Many organizations and individuals are becoming more vocal against the Helms Amendment. Passed by a conservative Congress in 1973 as a reactionary measure against the landmark court case, Roe v. Wade, the Helms Amendment denies women in countries receiving American aid the ability to get abortions with government money.
This amendment has received flack from both liberals and conservatives due to the denial of safe abortion options for women who are victims of rape during war. The opposition has grown a lot of steam world wide.
Before President Obama touched down in Kenya last week, the Kenyan government tore down a billboard that seemed to be politically motivated. According to reports, the billboard implored President Obama to utilize his executive action to help women who are victims of rape in developing countries.
After the Kenyan government took the billboard down, many were upset. Perhaps the government wanted Obama’s trip to his father’s country to be pleasurable and void of political dissonance.
Obama is not just receiving pressure to revoke the amendment abroad, but also at home.
Before his trip to Kenya, 70 U.S. non-government organizations called for Obama to visit health clinics in Kenya that attend to women’s’ health so that he can see for himself what the amendment is causing.
At the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice” in June, religious leaders requested that Obama use swift action to revoke the amendment. The support to revoke the amendment is not just from leaders, but from the majority of the American public.
BuzzFeed reported that 81 percent of people support a woman’s right to have access to an abortion in the case of rape or for the safety of the mother. Although this poll shows people’s views domestically, they can translate to the global stage.
Women living in countries rampant with a gang and terrorist violence are subject to rape. Because of the lack of protection the perpetrators have, the victims are oftentimes subject to sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
Due to rape being a tool of war, many from both sides express their disdain for the harsh bill. Perhaps the president will one day voice his opposition.
– Erin Logan