The Helms and Hyde amendments prohibit U.S. federal aid from funding abortions both internationally and nationally, and by doing so create an economic injustice for low-income women. Here, you can learn more about these amendments and the importance of comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion services.
- In the developing world, 40% of all pregnancies are unintended.[i]
- Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 in the developing world.[ii]
- Globally, 21 million unsafe abortions take place every year, causing the death of 47,000 women and injuries of 8.5 million more. Because the Helms amendment prohibits U.S.-funded reproductive health organizations from performing abortions, women often must seek out other, less safe sources for their abortion procedures.[iii]
- Cases of maternal death from unsafe abortions represent 13% of all cases of maternal mortality.[iv]
- With abortion restrictions are lifted, abortion-related deaths and complications reduce in number. South Africa’s abortion-related deaths decreased by 91% when its laws were liberalized, and Nepal’s abortion-related complications decreased by 26% after abortion was made legal.[v]
- Tens of millions of women worldwide receive reproductive healthcare that is funded by the United States, but the Helms amendment denies them access to abortion and abortion-related services as part of this healthcare.[vi]
- 3/4 of U.S. women who have abortions say that they cannot afford to have a child.[vii]
- The need for abortion services among poor women is especially high: 40% of U.S. women who have abortions have family incomes below the federal poverty line, 5.2% of poor women of reproductive age in the U.S. have abortions each year and 1/3 of U.S. women who get abortions have Medicaid. Because of the Hyde amendment, unfortunately, many of these women must fund their abortions with money they would otherwise use for basic necessities like food or shelter.[viii]
- Nearly 1 in 7 U.S. women of reproductive age (15-44) relies on Medicaid for healthcare expenses, but the Hyde amendment does not allow Medicaid to fund abortions except in cases of incest, rape, and danger to the life of the mother.[ix]
For a pdf version of this fact sheet, click here.