Once again abortion advocates are pushing to force taxpayers to fund abortions, this time overseas. And the push is coming from leaders of liberal faith-based groups. Last week more than 30 U.S. organizations crafted a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to use executive authority to allow foreign aid to help girls and women in other countries obtain abortions.
At issue is the Helms amendment, which was enacted in 1973 to ensure that U.S. aid to foreign countries would not be used to pay for abortion as a method of family planning or to coerce or motivate anyone to practice abortion. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed an executive order ensuring that foreign non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. family planning assistance would not be allowed to use non-U.S. funding to provide abortion services, information, counseling, or referrals. They also are prohibited from advocating or promoting abortion. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, every Republican president since Reagan has implemented the policy and every Democratic president, including Obama, has revoked it.
Although the Helms amendment does not prohibit use of funds for abortions in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother, the abortion promoters who wrote the letter are using such cases as grounds to eliminate the amendment altogether. Some of those signing the letter represent such organizations as the United Church of Christ, St. John’s Episcopal Church, the National Coalition of American Nuns, the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, Minn., the United Methodist Church, several Jewish organizations, and Muslims for Progressive Values.
A CNN/ORC International poll conducted earlier this year showed that a majority of Americans are opposed to using pubic funds for abortions, a statistic that has held steady for years. Yet, abortion advocates contend that taxpayers should be forced to provide access to abortion for millions of women and girls in foreign countries. They maintain that U.S. policy and programs that support the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for girls and women globally is not only the “natural extension” of Obama’s policies but is, “a moral imperative.”
In January, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the No Taxpayer Funded Abortion Act, which would make the Helms amendment permanent and would eliminate the need to renew it every year in the appropriations process.
The bill still needs Senate approval and Obama has threatened to veto it if it comes across his desk.
“We should not be taxing Americans and forcing them to fund a violation of their religious freedom,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, in a press release issued shortly after the vote. “The passage of this bill today is one more step toward restoring respect for the sanctity of human life.”