In the December 2015 issue of our magazine, we looked at the hostile Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, passed in 1973. Named for its sponsor, the mean-spirited Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), the Helms Amendment prevents USAID from funding safe abortion overseas as a method of family planning. However, it is interpreted as an outright ban. Below is an excerpt from the original article, published by the Guttmacher Institute.
Because of the Helms amendment and related abortion restrictions, the U.S. government has limited its ability to fully address the problems of unsafe abortion and maternal mortality and morbidity. Every year, millions of women suffer serious injuries from unsafe abortion, and 47,000 of them die—almost all in the developing world. Unsafe abortion is a significant driver of maternal mortality: It is responsible for 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide and represents one of the four major causes of pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity. In certain regions, such as Africa or Central and South America, almost all abortions are unsafe, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an abortion performed by an individual without the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to minimum medical standards, or both.