CCAR Resolution on International Reproductive Justice and the Helms Amendment

CCAR Resolution on International Reproductive Justice and the Helms Amendment

Adopted May 6, 2015


Whereas the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) has gone on record in 1967, 1975, and 1980 in affirming a woman’s right to control her own body, including her right to access to a safe and legal abortion; and,

Whereas the Central Conference of American Rabbis has consistently opposed amendments and legislation that would abridge or circumscribe this right, but has not heretofore taken a position specifically on the Helms Amendment; and

Whereas the Helms Amendment prohibits foreign assistance from being used to pay for abortion “as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions;” and

Whereas “as a method of family planning” is not defined in the Helms Amendment, “the federal status quo on abortion restrictions suggests that this excludes, at the very least, cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment;”[i] but

Whereas “USAID has consistently misinterpreted the Helms language to exclude funding for abortion services . . . in cases such as rape;[ii] and

Whereas rape is currently being used as a weapon in many places throughout the world; and

Whereas Helms Amendment restrictions have harmed the health and human rights of women and girls globally, 

Therefore Be It Resolved that:

  • The CCAR calls upon the Congress to overturn the Helms Amendment; and
  • The CCAR rejects the notion that women resort to abortion “as a method of family planning; ”
  • In the absence of repeal, the CCAR calls on the President of the United States to apply the Helms Amendment in such a way that U.S. foreign assistance is used to support access to abortion in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.
  • [i] Center for Health and Gender Equity,

    [ii] Ibid.