Kellie Moss and Jennifer Kates
Sep 21, 2023
Despite a long history of broad and bipartisan support, reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is currently being held up by congressional debate around abortion. PEPFAR, first created in 2003 by President George W. Bush and reauthorized three times thus far, is the U.S. government’s signature global health effort in the fight against HIV. Widely regarded as one of the most successful programs in global health history, PEPFAR reports having saved 25 million lives due to its efforts, and KFF analyses have found a significant impact of the program beyond HIV, including large reductions in both maternal and child mortality and significant increases in some childhood immunization rates. Still, its fourth reauthorization has been drawn into broader U.S. political debate about abortion, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision (which overturned the nationwide right to obtain an abortion), even though U.S. law prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance, including PEPFAR funding, for abortion. This policy watch provides an overview of the current debate and issues.
by BETHANY VAN KAMPEN SARAVIA
Abortion is healthcare, and access to healthcare is a human right everyone is entitled to, no matter their income, hometown, race or gender—and now more than ever, the American people agree with this.
Abortion was one of the defining issues of the midterm elections. It was the number one issue for almost one-third of all voters according to exit polls, and every single ballot initiative addressing abortion was a resounding victory. (“It turns out women enjoy having human rights, and we vote,” Hillary Clinton tweeted.)
by MICHELLE ONELLO
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ruled that there is no U.S. constitutional right to abortion, will have ripple effects around the world, according to the International Center for Research on Women’s (ICRW) policy brief, “U.S. Foreign Policy Implications of Overturning Roe v. Wade.” While Dobbs did not change existing U.S. foreign policy regarding abortion, the brief argues that it will embolden anti-abortion movements abroad, contribute to global stigmatization of abortion, cause confusion for policy implementation and open the door for new restrictions—all of which will negatively impact the health, economic resources and well-being of women throughout the world.
Dobbs is a reminder that current U.S. foreign aid restrictions “are not aligned with best health care practices nor consistent with human rights and bodily autonomy principles.”
Oct. 18, 2022
By Anu Kumar (Ipas)
Graphics by Sara Chodosh
Abortion has been legal in Ethiopia under a broad range of circumstances for the past 17 years. Nevertheless, at the Shekebedo Health Center, abortions cannot be performed at all. The clinic, situated in a rural part of southwestern Ethiopia where quality health care is hard to access, is partially funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. This funding has stopped the clinic from offering abortions to Ethiopian women.
The U.S. law that has impeded Shekebedo from providing abortions, known as the Helms Amendment, was passed in 1973 during the backlash to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states — and which the current court overturned in June. Helms prohibits the federal government from using foreign aid to pay for “abortion as a method of family planning.”
It’s imperative that advocates not limit their advocacy to the United States but expand it to countries around the world affected by US restrictions.
By Aruna Uprety, Nira Singh Shrestha, Astha Sharma, Giriraj Mani Pokharel and Sumesh Shiwakoty
Septe 23, 2022
The US Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade has sparked debate in the United States about how to protect reproductive freedom. President Biden proposed ending the Senate filibuster rule in order for Congress to pass legislation legalizing abortion rights, and he signed an executive order to “protect access to reproductive healthcare services.” In some states, legislators have enacted new laws that expanded abortion rights. However, what is missing in this debate is similar discourse and concrete actions by Democrats to protect reproductive rights not only in the United States but also in less-developed countries, which are directly affected by Republican attacks on US funding for reproductive health around the world.
OPINION: The reversal of Roe v. Wade is a tragedy not just for the United States, but for women everywhere
By TK Sundari Ravindran, Pascale Allotey, Sofia Gruskin
The past decades have brought modest improvements to women’s reproductive health around the world. Over the last 30 years, global rates of unintended pregnancies have thankfully declined by almost 20 percent, presumably in part because of better access to education and contraceptives. In 1973, the US Supreme Court, ruling in Roe v. Wade, declared an American woman’s right to an abortion to be fundamental and constitutionally protected. This landmark decision helped inspire many countries around the world to enshrine the individual right to bodily autonomy in law or expand access to abortion services — including Canada and India. Many women have been able to access safe abortions and post-abortion care.
Then the 2022 US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Senators also seek to correct misinterpretation by aid recipients of Helms amendment as a blanket ban on US funds for abortion
Fri 12 Aug 2022
Supporters of reproductive rights in Congress are calling on the government to clarify to foreign aid recipients that the end of abortion rights in the US does not affect US-funded family planning programs abroad, and to limit the damage of a half-century-old law that has functioned as a blanket ban that prevents US aid from supporting abortion care overseas.
Their efforts come as the Biden administration looks for ways to support abortion rights in the wake of the supreme court decision overturning Roe v Wade – which scrapped abortion rights – and amid signs that abortion rights could be a persuasive issue in midterm elections.
Biden already has the authority to roll back draconian abortion restrictions.
by ELLEN GADDY
President Joe Biden and I have met many times throughout my life and over the course of his political career. Our last meeting was in 2008 at the funeral of my grandfather, the late Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina.
Biden and my grandfather started their first Senate terms together in 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court. Although my grandfather was a Republican who opposed civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, HIV/AIDS research and abortion, Biden found a way to cross the political divide and work with him on some of these controversial issues, and even helped to soften his views over the years.
BY KHALEDA RAHMAN
The Supreme Court's historic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was quickly felt around the country as states quickly moved to enact abortion bans.
But abortion rights advocates fear not enough attention is being given to how the impact of the decision will ripple around the world.
Activists said they spoke to officials not only about their fears of the international impact if Roe were to fall but also proposed changes to U.S. policy that has long restricted funding for abortions abroad.
By DANIEL PAYNE
Abortion-rights advocates from around the world have met with congressional, USAID, HHS and State Department leaders to discuss worries that their countries will be next to see more restrictions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
In meetings last week, the activists said they spoke to officials not only about their fears of the international impact if Roe were to fall but also proposed changes to U.S. policy that has long restricted funding for abortions abroad.