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Faith Leaders to President Obama: Take Executive Action Now on Helms

June 4, 2015

Today Catholics for Choice joins a diverse coalition of faith-based and other advocacy organizations from around the country, as well as a rape survivor from Kenya, to urge President Obama to take immediate action to end the implementation of the harsh Helms Amendment. During a press conference at St. John’s Church near the White House, these faith groups will explain why Helms is so dangerous for women and why the majority of people of faith support reproductive autonomy.

“Catholics believe our laws and policies should support and safeguard a woman’s conscience,” said Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, domestic program director at Catholics for Choice, in prepared remarks. “They should enable her to exercise her conscience no matter where she lives, how much money she has in her pocket or where she receives care.

“The existing interpretation of the Helms policy has been so harshly implemented that it currently serves as a complete ban on support for any abortion care or counseling on options for a pregnancy. It creates barriers that prevent women around the world from following their conscience and ties the hands of agencies receiving US aid from providing the care women need.

“This policy is a disgrace to who we are as Americans—our values do not allow the US government to tell those in another country what they can and can’t do. The Obama administration knows this—Catholics for Choice and our partners have spent six and a half years pleading, prodding, but to no avail. This administration continues to bend a knee to religious extremists who want the ability to take US federal dollars and still keep the ‘right’ to refuse to do what is required to fulfill the needs of those who need services around the world.

“Vulnerable women and girls in some of the poorest parts of the world deserve and desperately need this inaction to end. It is the right thing to do, it is the just thing to do and, Mr. President, it is long beyond time to take action.”

Today’s event is part of ongoing efforts by faith leaders and advocates to ensure US support for abortion overseas. Most recently, Catholics for Choice has joined 30 other faith-based organizations in a letter to President Obama and partnered with Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) on a bus shelter ad campaign throughout DC.