Women abroad who have been raped by ISIS militants are effectively being denied abortions at least in part because of outdated U.S. foreign policy, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof discussed in a column this past week. The Helms Amendment, which was passed in 1973, prohibits government aid funding for “abortion as a method of family planning,” but has effectively been implemented as an outright ban on funding for abortions abroad. Lisa Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women and co-founder of Sister Somalia, argues that it is high time to change this, arguing that “a simple reinterpretation on the part of the president would allow aid dollars for terminating rape-induced pregnancies,” since 88 percent of American voters support abortion access under such extreme circumstances. She adds that besides facing the trauma of rape, pregnancy adds another “permanent prison,” which often leads these women to try to conduct an unsafe abortion themselves — killing some 47,000 girls and women each year. Other women who are unable to cope with the trauma abandon their newborns or commit suicide. Shannon calls for a complete repeal of the amendment, which might just happen if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency next Tuesday. She has made it a campaign promise to fix the enforcement of the amendment and even promised to fight for its complete repeal.
Read the full story at the New York Times.