Rep. Jan Schakowsky has introduced a bill that would allow U.S. taxpayer-funded international aid programs to pay for abortion procedures in Africa and other locations around the world.
On Wednesday, the Illinois Democrat and six Democratic co-sponsors unveiled the Abortion Is Health Care Act of 2020, which would classify abortion as a “critical component of comprehensive maternal and reproductive health care.”
The bill seeks to repeal the Helms Amendment, which has prohibited the use of foreign aid for abortions since 1973.
The law passed following the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
“Ninety-seven percent of unsafe abortions occur in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In low- and middle-income countries, the annual cost of post-abortion care for all who need it would be $4 billion,” Schakowsky’s bill reads.
The legislation adds: “Restricting abortion does not reduce either the need for or number of abortions.
“Abortion rates are similar in countries where it is highly restricted by law and where it is broadly legal.”
The proposed legislation then takes direct aim at the Helms Amendment.
“United States law restricting United States foreign assistance funding from being used to provide safe abortion services has the effect of harming people who seek to terminate their pregnancies,” the bill says.
The legislation does not merely take up the Democrats’ call for taxpayer money to be used to fund abortion procedures internationally.
The bill also specifically mentions pregnancies in transgender individuals.
According to Schakowsky, U.S. taxpayers should foot the bill for “transgender men” and other “gender non-conforming individuals” seeking abortion procedures around the world.
“Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that when people, including young women and adolescent girls, gender non-conforming individuals, and transgender men, are able to control their reproductive lives, there are enormous social and economic benefits — not just for the individual and their family, but for entire communities,” the bill says.
“Countries that prioritize reproductive health, rights, and justice and human rights are more likely to have better overall health throughout.”
In a statement, Schakowsky claimed the policy designed to prevent Americans from paying for abortions in other countries is racist.
“The Helms Amendment is a policy deeply rooted in racism,” Schakowsky said.
“It imposes our arbitrary and medically unnecessary abortion restrictions on international communities, allowing the United States to control the health care and bodily autonomy of billions Black and brown people around the world,” the Illinois Democrat added.
The lawmaker also touted the bill on social media:
I’m grateful to my sisters @NitaLowey, @RepBarbaraLee, @RepSpeier, @RepPressley, @RepDianaDeGette, & @NormaJTorres for joining as original cosponsors & to 115+ organizations who have endorsed this legislation to uplift women around the world #RepealHelmshttps://t.co/l2QbDaEw0c
— Jan Schakowsky (@janschakowsky) July 29, 2020
According to The Hill, the bill is not scheduled for a vote in the House.
Even if it passed, Democrats do not expect the legislation would be taken up by the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim majority.
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