Under pressure from outside groups, the White House is deciding to overturn part of the 1973 Helms Amendment which bans American money from being used to perform or promote abortion overseas, reports the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) in their weekly Friday Fax report.
The Obama administration reportedly intends to sidestep Congress and make an executive decision concerning the Helms Amendment, declaring that it has been misinterpreted for the past 41 years since it became U.S. law.
The wedge that abortion proponents are using is rape. They claim Helms only bans funding for abortion as a “method of family planning” and that abortion for rape is hardly a method of family planning. They also claim that recent U.N. Security Council resolutions mentioning the provision of “sexual and reproductive healthcare services” in conflict situations makes abortion for rape in war a part of humanitarian law.
Thirty leaders of left-wing faith-based groups sent a letter to President Obama this week saying that the Helms Amendment has been misinterpreted throughout these years and that not allowing a rape exception is “immoral.”
It is likely the White House is making this decision without input from various development and aid coalitions that usually have a voice in such decisions. InterAction and Accord, two such coalitions, have member organizations on both sides of such questions, but experts say they would be concerned that such a change might damage faith-based groups that would find a financial provision for abortion objectionable.
World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian aid group that spends more than a billion dollars a year overseas, is one of the most powerful aid groups that may object to the change in law. A spokesman for World Vision told C-Fam’s Friday Fax on Thursday that they had no comment but had not heard of the proposed change.
Pro-life groups have opposed U.S. aid for abortions overseas, even for cases of rape, because there is a lack of controls in conflict situations and the unsanitary conditions can place women in grave harm. They also point to the fact that this policy will hold true even in countries where abortion is illegal, and this would violate national sovereignty.
Austin Ruse is president of C-Fam.