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(LifeSiteNews) — A pro-abortion activist has written an essay in the New York Times expressing her anger over the United States’ 1973 Helms Amendment which prevents the government from using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion overseas.

An October 18 New York Times essay from Anu Kumar, the president of the pro-abortion Ipas, laments the life-saving effects of the Helms Amendment, which is named after late North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and “prohibits the use of foreign assistance to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortion.”

This amendment, paired with the Mexico City Policy which prohibits foreign non-profits from committing abortions if they receive foreign aid has helped reduce abortions overseas.

Ipas currently works with Ellen Gaddy, Helms’ granddaughter, to support abortion.

In the essay, Kumar wrote:

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.

The Times essay identifies 37 countries currently affected by this amendment, including Ghana, Jordan and Liberia.

Even Democrats, despite controlling the executive and legislative branch, have struggled to repeal this amendment.

“While the Biden administration has called for repeal of the Hyde Amendment (the domestic law restricting federal funding for abortion), its stance on Helms is unclear,” Kaiser Family Foundation wrote in its January 2022 one-pager. “It has not taken a public position on repeal, and its first budget request to Congress included the Helms language. Moreover, both chambers of Congress would have to agree to excluding Helms Amendment language from annual appropriations legislation as well as from the permanent statute, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.”

A 2021 analysis from the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) underscores the importance of the amendment for pro-lifers.

“The crux of the matter is whether abortion is a human right and whether the U.S. has an obligation to fund abortion internationally,” C-Fam wrote. “This is categorically not the case. The U.S. government does not have an obligation to export abortion to the whole world.”

The group urged the focus to shift to maternal health and away from abortion.

“U.S. funding for maternal and child health must increase. 39% of unintended pregnancies are carried to term. Therefore, millions of women and their children still need maternal and child health, which is woefully underfunded internationally,” the analysis stated. “Keeping the Helms amendment in place is about making sure U.S. taxpayer funds are used to help these women and children, and not to already well-funded abortion groups.”

However, Kumar and Ipas want Biden to use executive power to get around the prohibitions.

“President Biden also has the power to mitigate some of the harms of the Helms Amendment. The president could issue federal guidance to clarify that Helms permits using U.S. funds for abortion care in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment,” the pro-abortion group leader wrote for the Times. “His administration could also ensure that clinics in countries where abortion is legal understand that U.S. rules allow them to offer abortion information and counseling.”

“Through its power of the purse, the United States is stripping people of the rights and health care access they are legally entitled to in their home countries in the name of a half-century-old law that exports conservative American values overseas,” Kumar urged. “Everyone deserves access to abortion — no matter where they live. The Helms Amendment is an act of international interference and overreach, and it has to end.”