WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), joined by 21 U.S. and international organizations, holds a rally at the White House to stand with women and girls raped in conflict at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 9. The rally is part of the Break Barriers campaign, launched last December. Break Barriers calls on President Obama to take executive action on correct implementation of the Helms Amendment and allow U.S. funding for abortion services overseas for women raped in conflict, and globally, in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. The rally is the culmination of events that took place over the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence and will take place on the eve of International Human Rights Day.
- The Helms Amendment, a decades-old provision, forbids the U.S. to “pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning,” but does not prohibit U.S. foreign assistance in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. Despite the distinction, lack of clarity around the implementation of Helms has served as a barrier to safe abortion services for women and girls, including those raped in conflict.
- U.S. voters support executive action to ensure funding for safe abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. A January 2014 poll found that 57% of U.S. voters favor such action.
- Since the Syrian conflict began, the most extensive form of violence women and girls there face is sexual violence, including rape.
- At the U.N. in September, President Obama acknowledged that “mothers, sisters, and daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon of war.”
This call to action has been supported by former USAID Administrator Brian Atwood, more than 30 US faith-based leaders, and a diverse coalition of NGOs.