Will U.S. Abortion Wars End a Successful Foreign Policy in Africa?

Conservatives in Washington have blocked the reauthorization of PEPFAR, endangering the health of HIV-positive Africans.

By Nosmot Gbadamosi
NOVEMBER 1, 2023

The Most Successful U.S. International Health Policy Is Unraveling
Fierce opposition from conservative lawmakers is casting doubt on the future of PEPFAR, the U.S. government’s most successful global-health program, which was set up two decades ago by the George W. Bush administration to address the HIV epidemic.

Since 2003, PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has funded antiretroviral treatment for more than 20 million people across more than 50 countries in its 20-year existence. The project has donated about $110 billion to health projects globally, yet a decision to fund the program’s next five-year cycle has become embroiled in the domestic abortion debate. Authorization for PEPFAR lapsed at the end of September after it failed to get congressional approval.

Continued: https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/11/01/bush-pepfar-africa-aids-abortion-wars-end-a-successful-foreign-policy-in-africa/

Abortion Is Legal in Ethiopia. But Half of These Clinics Won’t Provide Them.

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.”

Unlocked: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/10/17/opinion/helms-amendment-abortion-repeal.html?unlocked_article_code=mHvChNQ4UzOBW3MNBpu0qhgSJ3tcqpa-UNmGiBj2yy43pMKf99_p1ca620Z5rB5wlOZ8hN1dEzZurbnq9ZWZOgqO8RD2ZZeyzD8UfFwOmODM4q6tl0KI0TeXC84EqBwbRYmMmh_0dRsOZqE2ibH08tA33rulyiEfzpEBvDR1GKdhC1nOI8YOCOLdFgJFL1xEXkhD1YOAyP1lCZTt1IoAsBtwznC7WP7tPw_Q_Xm4zAsXyUS5x60HhQGAR6e6JnIarYLGot0BPfIfTTXvzHUqK0_YboSgl8OlttSWwFIhQJT24AsGUaWGQTdVvimylinlbBEXqF6A95wNkKhWx7azF82LE1FDNnX-cPU5TG3dyKp60p6Wt4fMpRc&smid=share-url

Biden urged to clarify that abortion aid abroad unaffected by Roe v Wade ruling

Senators also seek to correct misinterpretation by aid recipients of Helms amendment as a blanket ban on US funds for abortion

Noa Yachot
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.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/12/foregin-abortion-funding-limit-ban-senators-joe-biden

USA – It’s Time to End My Grandfather’s Harmful Legacy — the Helms Amendment

Biden already has the authority to roll back draconian abortion restrictions.


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.

Continued: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/07/28/biden-repeal-helms-amendment-on-abortion-00048533

Global abortion-rights advocates worry their countries are next if Roe falls

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.


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.

Continued: https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/15/global-abortion-rights-roe-00039654

Too many have suffered under Ghana’s abortion laws. Ending Roe v Wade risks our hope for change

In a country where stigma, poverty and religious beliefs compound anti-abortion laws, a rollback on US rights will only embolden extremists

Bisi Adjapon, The Guardian
Mon 23 May 2022

No one knew she’d had multiple abortions. Not even me, a lifelong friend. “I can’t even count how many times I had to do it. He wouldn’t let me use contraception and he wouldn’t wear anything.” Sitting opposite her at a restaurant, I felt deep anguish. This was a prominent Ghanaian official.

She told me how my novel, The Teller of Secrets, had stirred memories she had tried to suppress. It was not the only shame-filled confession triggered by the book. An award-winning Ghanaian film-maker messaged me to share harrowing accounts of a Muslim woman’s abortions she couldn’t make public. Literary friends of mine have confided similar pain. Almost every African woman I know, mid-30s and above, has had an abortion or two, or more.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/may/23/too-many-have-suffered-under-ghana-abortion-laws-ending-roe-wade-risks-hope-for-change

Statement on the U.S Congress’ FY22 spending bill which fails to permanently repeal the global gag rule

U.S congressional leaders have announced they have reached a final spending deal for the fiscal year 2022 (FY22) but the bill fails to permanently repeal the harmful global gag rule.

International Planned Parenthood Federation
Thu, 03/10/2022

U.S congressional leaders have announced they have reached a final spending deal for the fiscal year 2022. This bill results from months of negotiations over funding and policy decisions, including those that impact sexual and reproductive healthcare globally.

Despite the inclusion of language to permanently repeal the global gag rule passed in the House and introduced in the Senate, the final legislation fails to permanently end the harmful policy that has destroyed the lives of women and girls around the world for so many years. It also does not remove discriminatory abortion bans like the Hyde, Helms, and Weldon amendments or include much-needed new investments in sexual and reproductive healthcare and international family planning programs.

Continued: https://www.ippf.org/media-center/statement-us-congress-fy22-spending-bill-which-fails-permanently-repeal-global-gag

The whole world is watching for Biden’s plan to protect abortion rights


The first year of Joe Biden’s presidency came to a close just days before the 49th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, which has served as the foundation for Americans’ right to abortion ever since. Yet, it could be the last anniversary we ever celebrate.

In the next six months, the Supreme Court is set to rule in a case aimed directly at dismantling the constitutional protections established by Roe. Given the realities of a conservative Supreme Court and gridlock in Congress, executive branch leadership and support of abortion is critical. The time is now for the Biden administration and federal agencies to take every measure necessary to protect abortion access. But it shouldn’t stop at creative domestic approaches — an international perspective is also needed.

Continued: https://thehill.com/opinion/international/591194-the-whole-world-is-watching-for-bidens-plan-to-protect-abortion-rights?rl=1

U.S. Politics Push the Global Poor to Unsafe Abortion


Dr. Sukesh Sharma has worked as a gynecologist and surgeon for more than 40 years, providing services like safe abortion and tubal ligation to women in India. While he has seen progress in women’s reproductive healthcare since he started more than four decades ago—“At that time there were many untrained people doing abortions,” he said of his early career—he has also seen how U.S. politics have interfered with access to safe abortion and other services for Indian women.

Six times, Sharma has seen the global gag rule instated or repealed,
cutting off funding for his services and others, putting the lives of the women
he serves at risk.

Continued: https://msmagazine.com/2021/08/15/global-poor-unsafe-abortion-helms-amendment-global-gag-rule/

In Hospitals Across Africa, A Lack Of Post-Abortion Care

March 9, 2021

Some of Onikepe Owolabi's most vivid memories of medical school in her native Nigeria are of the teenage girls she saw in the emergency room of a rural hospital with complications from an unsafe abortion — painful infections that, if left untreated, can lead to permanent disability or even death.

Each time, Owolabi, now a senior research scientist with the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive rights organization in the U.S. that supports abortion rights, assisted doctors in promptly providing the girls with a group of essential obstetric services known collectively as "post-abortion care," or PAC.

Continued: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/03/09/936206516/in-hospitals-across-africa-a-lack-of-post-abortion-care