Letter: Ayotte can make a difference on Helms Amendment

Published: 7/30/2016 12:01:07 AM
Ayotte can make a difference on Helms Amendment

The Republican Party’s national convention had grandiose speeches but less attention to policy issues. One such issue is women’s health and reproductive care access for women in the poorest parts of the world.

Since 1973, the Helms Amendment has prohibited funding for abortion “as a method of family planning” – but has been misinterpreted to ban funding even in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancy.

My husband and I spent five years working with the United Nations in conflict areas of Africa. There we learned of the unintended consequences of this misinterpretation.

In some of the most dangerous parts of the world, if a woman is raped and gets pregnant she has few resources available to help her. Indeed, one recent news item recounted how Hamsatu was kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Her captors raped her for seven months. She recently gave birth to her rapist’s child in a refugee camp. A group of U.S. senators and representatives proposes clarifying the amendment to allow for aid in cases of rape, incest and life-threatening pregnancy. But to repeal the law will take an act of Congress.

That’s where Sen. Ayotte can make a difference and pledge to end this ban.

Sen. Ayotte recently said she was “deeply troubled” by the treatment of women who have been raped; she highlighted the need for justice for their attackers.

Sen. Ayotte can stand against these terrorist groups by standing for the women and girls they target and modify or repeal the Helms Amendment.



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