The Helms amendment (1973) prevents federal aid from funding abortions internationally except in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. In practice, overly cautious enforcement of the Helms amendment prohibits the support of abortions even in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.
The Helms amendment prevents many women in the developing world from obtaining needed abortion care and increases the likelihood that a woman will undergo an unsafe abortion procedure. 47,000 women around the world die each year as a result of unsafe abortions, making this the #2 cause of maternal mortality worldwide.
The Helms amendment exacerbates circumstances of poverty and marginalization, threatens women’s lives, and effectively denies women autonomy over their own bodies.
Our religious traditions urge us to care for those who are most vulnerable, whether in our own community or far away. Our traditions also call us to work for justice and well-being in the world. Our religious commitment to the welfare of all people requires that we address the injustice of the Helms amendment. All women deserve safe reproductive care, no matter their economic circumstances.