Faith-Based Leaders Call on Obama to Ensure Access to Abortion as Part of US Foreign Policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Calling access to safe abortion in the cases of rape, incest, and life
endangerment a “moral imperative,” more than 30 leaders of faith-based groups and organizations from across the United States today called on President Obama to ensure that U.S. foreign policy supports access to abortion services. In a letter coordinated by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) and the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), the faith-based leaders called on the president to clarify the Helms amendment, a decades-old provision that forbids the U.S. to fund abortion services as a method of family planning but does not prohibit U.S. foreign assistance of such services in
the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Lack of clarity around the Helms amendment has resulted in its misapplication as a complete ban.
“…[W]e urge you to use your executive authority to end the longstanding misinterpretation of the Helms amendment, which in current practice denies women and girls access to safe abortion services even in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment,” stated the letter which was signed by faith-based leaders including Reverend Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ; Reverend Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance; Reverend Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, the United Methodist Church; the Most Rev.
Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Episcopal Church; and Lori Weinstein, CEO and Executive Director, Jewish Women International.
“For many women in dire situations abroad, US-funded programs are the best—and in many situations the only—option they have for receiving safe reproductive healthcare,” said Rev. Harry Knox, President/CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. “In our view, turning away these women in need when we could so easily help them violates one of our most basic religious values: compassion. At the very least, the administration should follow the existing the law and abandon the current practice of denying women access to abortion even in cases of rape,