American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Hails Reintroduction of the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act

U.S. House of Representatives Must Pass this Legislation to Repeal the Helms Amendment, in order to Secure Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Today, the reintroduction of the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act in the U.S. House of Representatives is a necessary and welcome step to achieving reproductive justice, according to American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization.
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) and her colleagues—Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA-10), and Norma Torres (D-CA-35)—led the reintroduction of the Abortion Is Health Care Everywhere Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation would repeal the Helms Amendment, a harmful 48-year-old policy which prevents U.S. foreign assistance from funding abortion services around the world.

Responding to the bill’s reintroduction, Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), issued the following statement:

“We applaud the members of Congress who are taking a stand for women, girls and LGBTQI+ people everywhere by reintroducing this vital piece of legislation, which ensures that U.S. foreign policy will strengthen the right to life-saving healthcare and abortion services. We thank the more than 140 Members of Congress for supporting the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act and building the momentum up to repeal the Helms Amendment.

“As a Jewish organization committed to reproductive justice, we believe that abortion is an essential form of healthcare and a human right for women, girls and LGBTQI+ people. For nearly 50 years, the Helms Amendment has drawn an arbitrary and harmful line between abortion services and other healthcare, putting vulnerable communities around the world at grave risk, especially Black and brown individuals.

“Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services leads to a staggering 35 million unsafe abortions each year worldwide. Tragically, the Helms Amendment and other U.S. policies, like the global gag rule, have contributed to this health crisis. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the most marginalized people, we must ensure that barriers to health care access are permanently removed and that the United States advances sexual and reproductive health and rights in its foreign policy.

“As President Biden noted in his executive action on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad, the United States is committed to supporting sexual and reproductive rights in the U.S. and internationally—and repealing the Helms Amendment is one step to achieving this vision. Now, it is time for Congress to act.

“We encourage all Members of Congress to cosponsor the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act and to work to ensure its passage this Congress. Together, we must uphold that abortion is health care and a human right.”

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Madeline Cohen at mcohen@ajws.org during AJWS office hours from 9 am to 5 pm eastern time, Monday through Thursday. If you are on an urgent deadline on a Friday, over a weekend or during evening hours, please write Stuart Schear at sschear@ajws.org.