Clinton and Sanders Just Weighed In on an Old Battle in the Fight for Reproductive Rights

David Goldman/AP


Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have repeatedly emphasized the importance of protecting women’s reproductive rights, but mostly they’ve focused on domestic policy. Now, looking overseas, they say the United States should change the regulation of foreign aid for abortions.

The 1973 Helms amendment blocks the use of foreign aid for women who were raped in conflict zones or developing countries and seeking an abortion. The amendment states, “No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” The Hyde amendment, which was passed three years after the Helms amendment, prohibits federal funding from being used for elective abortions—abortions that are not because of incest, rape, or life endangerment.

According to the Huffington Post, Clinton promised to change the Helms amendment and create an exception for rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother. Sanders said he would use executive action to repeal the Helms amendment altogether.

“Sen. Sanders is opposed to the Helms amendment,” Arianna Jones, his deputy communications director, told the Huffington Post. “As president, he will sign an executive order to allow for U.S. foreign aid to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is at risk. He will also work with Congress to permanently repeal both the Hyde and Helms amendments.”

Clinton was asked about the Helms amendment during her Iowa campaign, where she said she thinks rape is being used increasingly as a war weapon.

“I do think we have to take a look at this for conflict zones,” Clinton said at the town hall, responding to a question from an audience member. “And if the United States government, because of very strong feelings against it, maintains our prohibition, then we are going to have to work through nonprofit groups and work with other countries to…provide the support and medical care that a lot of these women need.”

A Clinton campaign spokeswoman wrote in an email to the Huffington Post that Clinton would “fix” the Helms amendment: “The systematic use of rape as a tool of war is a tactic of vicious militias and insurgent and terrorist groups around the world. She saw first-hand as Secretary of State the suffering of survivors of sexual violence in armed conflict during her visit to Goma in 2009. She believes we should help women who have been raped in conflict get the care that they need.”

 

 

 

 

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate