Call for Action to correct the harmful implementation of the Helms Amendment

Posted on January, 22 2015 by Action Canada

Click here to read the letter in PDF

January 22, 2015

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama,

The undersigned organizations working to promote women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in many countries around the world write to urge you to use your executive authority to direct the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department, and other relevant U.S. government agencies to correct the harmful implementation of the Helms Amendment.

Historically, the United States has played a pivotal role in improving the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls in the developing world, including as a leading funder of international family planning and other reproductive health programs. We also recognize and applaud additional steps that your Administration has taken to empower women and girls and protect their health and lives, domestically and in foreign assistance programs.

However, we are deeply discouraged by the inaction of your Administration on correct implementation of the Helms Amendment. The Helms Amendment prohibits the use of foreign assistance funds for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.” Abortions for women who are survivors of rape or incest, and for those who experience life-endangering pregnancies, are not abortions provided as family planning. For over 40 years, the Helms Amendment has been implemented so restrictively that it has impeded counseling and referrals

by U.S.-funded healthcare providers even in these limited cases, as well as the provision of safe abortion care for women in countries where abortion in these circumstances is their legal right.

The need for action is greater than ever, and the time to act is now. In many countries receiving U.S. assistance, women and girls face high rates of sexual violence, limited access to trained healthcare providers, and other barriers to accessing care. We ask that you take immediate steps to end the harmful implementation of the Helms Amendment in order to save the lives and health of tens of thousands of women in developing nations.


List of endorsing organizations:

  • Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
  • Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
  • Action for Fundamental Change and Development, Uganda
  • Action Health Incorporated, Nigeria
  • Adolescent Health and Information Projects, Nigeria
  • Adolescent Health Support Organization, Nigeria
  • Advocacy Movement Network, Sierra Leone
  • African Youth Initiative on Youth and Development
  • AIDOS – The Italian Association for Women in Development
  • AIDS Accountability International, South Africa
  • Al Centro de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (PROMSEX), Peru
  • Amnesty International USA
  • Asia Safe Abortion Partnership
  • Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion, Bangladesh
  • Association for Reproductive and Family Health, Nigeria
  • ASTRA Network – Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
  • Awaz Foundation Centre for Development Services, Pakistan Balance, Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud A.C., Mexico Bangla Communications Ltd., Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh Association for Social Advancement
  • Beyond Beijing Committee, Nepal
  • Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco
  • Care For Life Mission, Nigeria
  • Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Mexico
  • Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Malawi
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Center for Research on Environment Health and Population, Nepal
  • Center for the Development of the People, Malawi
  • Centre for Health Works, Development and Research Initiative, Nigeria
  • Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education, Malawi
  • Choice 4 Life, Nigeria
  • Choice for Youth and Sexuality, Netherlands
  • Climate Wednesday, Nigeria
  • Coalition of African Lesbians
  • Coast Women in Development, Kenya
  • Colegio de Bioética A.C., Mexico
  • Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer, Mexico
  • Community and Family Aid Foundation, Ghana
  • Community Network for Reproductive Health Rights, Uganda
  • Concept Foundation
  • Consorcio Latinoamericano Contra el Aborto Inseguro
  • Dance4Life, Netherlands
  • Dandelion Kenya
  • Danish Family Planning Association
  • DKT International, Nigeria
  • Educación, Clínica e Investigación en Sexualidad, Paraguay
  • Education as a Vaccine, Nigeria
  • Elige Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos, A.C., Mexico
  • EngenderHealth
  • Family Care International
  • Federación Mexicana de Universitarias
  • Federación Planificación Familiar Estatal
  • Federation for Women and Family Planning, Poland
  • Fondo Maria, Mexico
  • Forum for Women, Law and Development, Nepal
  • Fundación Desafio y Frente Ecuatoriano, Ecuador
  • Fundación ESAR, Colombia
  • Fundación Oriéntame, Colombia
  • Fundar, Centro de Análisis e Investigación A.C., Mexico GESTOS-HIV, Communication and Gender, Brazil
  • Ginealmeria, Spain
  • Ginegranada, Spain
  • Girls Action Movement, Sierra Leone
  • Global Hope for Women and Children Foundation, Nigeria
  • Health Empowered Youth Focus Uganda
  • Health for All Coalition, Sierra Leone
  • Health, Economics and Society Department – Center for the Study of State and Society, Argentina
  • Ibis Reproductive Health
  • International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion
  • International Consortium for Medical Abortion
  • International Federation of Women Lawyers, Nigeria
  • International Youth Alliance for Family Planning Interrupción Legal del Embarazo en la Ciudad de México Investigación en Salud y Demografía, Mexico
  • Ipas
  • Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, Nigeria
  • Kalanyo Youth Development Program, Kenya
  • La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud de las Mujeres, Colombia
  • Las Hijas de la Negrita, Costa Rica
  • LUNA, Netherlands
  • Marie Stopes México
  • Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria
  • Millennium Development Goals Ambassadors Initiative, Sierra Leone
  • Modemmujer Red Feminista De Comunicación Electrónica, Mexico
  • Mujer y Salud en Uruguay
  • National Alliance of Women Human Right Defenders, Nepal
  • National Association of Women Journalists, Nigeria
  • National Youth Coalition, Sierra Leona
  • Network Movement for Democracy and Human Rights, Sierra Leone
  • Network of the Bar, Bench and Police on Women
  • Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Nigeria
  • Nigerian Medical Students Association
  • Nyale Institute for Sexual and Reproductive Health Governance, Malawi
  • Nzoia Youth Group, Kenya
  • Okoa Community Project, Kenya
  • Pathfinder International, Nigeria
  • Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Nigeria
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria Population Matters
  • Profamilia, Dominican Republic
  • Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Nigeria
  • Promotion of Reproductive Sexual Health and HIV&AIDS Education, Sierra Leone
  • Purple Hearts Foundation, Nigeria
  • Reproductive Health Matters, United Kingdom
  • Reproductive Health Partners Advocacy Network, Sierra Leone Reproductive Health Services Training and Education Program, Bangladesh Restless Development, Sierra Leone
  • RTM International Shikka-O-Manab Sampad Unnayyan Kendra, Bangladesh
  • Rutgers WPF, Netherlands
  • Rutgers WPF, Pakistan
  • Safe Motherhood Network Federation, Nepal
  • Sensoa, Belgium
  • Simavi, Netherlands
  • Sociedad Dominicana De Obstetricia y Ginecologia, Inc., Dominican Republic
  • Society for Women Development and Empowerment of Nigeria
  • Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Nigeria
  • Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa
  • Stand To End Rape Initiative, Nigeria
  • Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)
  • Tanzania Women Lawyers Association
  • TEAM Associates, Bangladesh
  • The Foundation for Leadership Initiatives, India & Thailand
  • The Youth Voices, Uganda Traffina Foundation, Nigeria
  • Uganda Harm Reduction Network
  • UNAM – National Autonomous University of México Voluntary
  • Association for Rural Development, Bangladesh
  • Women Arise for Change Initiative, Nigeria
  • Women for Women’s Human Rights, Turkey
  • Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights/Africa
  • Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights/Global
  • Women Help Women Foundation, Netherlands
  • Women in Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health (WISH) Associates, South Africa
  • Women Lawyers Association, Malawi
  • Women on Waves
  • Women on Web International Foundation, Netherlands
  • WomenAid Collective, Nigeria
  • Women’s Rehabilitation Center, Nepal
  • Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, Nigeria
  • YouAct, European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  • Youth Action Movement, Sierra Leone
  • Youth Net and Counselling, Malawi