WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Strip Religious Liberty Protections, Fund Abortion Overseas

Emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta reveal that Clinton’s close relationship with the abortion lobby would help deliver U.S. funding of abortions overseas without any accommodations for the conscience protections of faith-based groups.

WikiLeaks uncovers an email from Jennifer Klein, a Georgetown adjunct law professor who currently advises Clinton on issues related to women as she did while Clinton was secretary of state.

Klein indicates to Podesta she has been speaking with Planned Parenthood officials about their discussions with White House staffer Tina Tchen regarding the Obama administration’s desire to keep a conscience clause intact in the 1973 Helms Amendment – a longstanding U.S. law that bars U.S. funding of abortions overseas. Obama has wanted U.S. funding for overseas abortions, but has still resisted dismantling conscience protections for faith groups. Klein discusses how Clinton will manipulate around that.

Klein writes:

The groups have been advocating for changing the Helms Amendment to add exceptions for life of the mother, rape or incest (in other words, to clarify that despite the longstanding interpretation of Helms, while US dollars can¹t be spent for abortion as a method of family planning these cases are not family planning.) The groups heard recently that the WH was prepared to go forward, but with two notable limitations. First, that any organization with a religious or moral objection would not be required to provide, pay for or refer for abortion. Second, that an organization that does not provide abortion services could not be discriminated against in the solicitation, application or granting of foreign assistance funds.

Both of these pose problems, and in my view, leaving Helms intact is a better alternative at the moment. The conscience clause is at best odd and at worst harmful. Changing Helms would not require grantees to provide abortions at all, it would simply say that US funds can legally be spent in certain limited circumstances (life, rape, incest) and only in countries where abortion is legal. Since there is no affirmative requirement, why introduce the notion of a conscience exception?…In addition, the non-discrimination clause could be problematic. Again, there is no affirmative requirement that these services be offered so organizations that don¹t provide them don¹t need a leg up in the application process. (I¹d even go one step further to argue that if Helms were amended so that abortions could be paid for in cases of rape, that factor should be considered in the application, given the reality that in many parts of the world, the USAID grantee is going to be the only health care available, and in some of those places (e.g., DRC) the availability of abortion in the case of a rape might be important.)

“These changes are a problem, as a matter of substance and also as a matter of politics (including for H),” concludes Klein. “As I said, my intelligence suggests that the groups have effectively stopped this from going forward, but I wanted to be sure you are aware. Happy to talk to anyone further about this if it is helpful.”

Clinton has also vowed to repeal the Hyde Amendment – which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in the United States – as the way to allow more access to abortion for low-income black and Hispanic women. At the same time, Clinton asserts that unborn babies have no constitutional rights.

In January, Clinton said, “I will always defend Planned Parenthood. And I will say – consistently and proudly – Planned Parenthood should be funded, supported, and appreciated; not undermined, misrepresented, and demonized.”


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