How #Fight4Her Bolsters Reproductive Rights in North Carolina

Founded in early 2017, the #Fight4HER campaign works to call attention to policies like the Global Gag Rule. It sounds like worldwide work, but how does the reproductive rights campaign operate right here in North Carolina?

To zoom out to the roots #Fight4Her: the Population Connection Action Fund sponsors this North Carolina grassroots campaign. Population Connection is a national nonprofit organization that advocates global access to family planning and reproductive healthcare. The campaign currently reaches across eight states in the U.S.

Source: @Fight4HERNC on Twitter

#Fight4Her in North Carolina: Expanding Reproductive Rights

Tina Baker, one of North Carolina’s #Fight4HER organizers, spoke to NCND and outlined the campaign’s mission:

1. Ending the Global Gag Rule through the Global HER Act.

2. Increasing U.S. foreign aid for international family planning to $1.6 billion dollars a year ($111 million of which will be designated for the United Nations Population Fund).

3. Repealing the Helms Amendment.

#Fight4HER Spotlights Global Gag Rule’s Threats to Reproductive Health

What is the Global Gag Rule?

The Mexico City Policy, now commonly referred to as the Global Gag Rule, was created under President Ronald Reagan. This policy limits how U.S. funds can be used by foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Global Gag Rule limits reproductive rights to the NGOs by prohibiting these organizations from receiving abortion referrals or coverage. Restrictions apply even if NGOs pay for services with their own funds. In addition, the only exceptions to this rule are for cases of rape, incest, or threats to the mother’s health. 

Every subsequent president has had the authority to continue or revoke the policy. This structure leaves NGOs sensitive to changes in the U.S. political climate. For example, President Obama reversed the rule, while President Trump expanded it. The Trump administration broadened the rule with the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy in 2017, and again in 2019.

Women seeking abortion referrals and services aren’t the only ones impacted by the rule’s expansion. Due to disruptions in healthcare, the availability of AIDS and HIV treatment, prevention and testing are suffering. Over half of global AIDS and HIV funding is from the United States. The Trump administration’s 2017 policy impacted these programs significantly.

How does #Fight4Her Help?

#Fight4HER spotlights the damage that the Global Gag Rule has on reproductive health programs around the world. To do so, the campaign works with organizers, student activists and communities to collect petitions to end the Global Gag Rule. As a result of their efforts, over 11,000 petitions have been collected.

Repealing the Helms Amendment

What is the Helms Amendment? The Helms Amendment is part of the 1973 U.S. Foreign Assistance Act.

That none of the funds made available under this Act may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.

Sec. 104 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

Repealing this amendment would end the prohibition of foreign aid for abortion as a method of family planning overseas. Efforts to call attention to the damage the amendment causes have been gaining traction. In fact, on July 29, the U.S. House introduced the first-ever legislation to end this amendment. The Abortion is Healthcare Everywhere Act is the first Helms Amendment repeal bill and represents decades worth of work.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th District) sponsors this bill, which would allow for U.S. funding to provide comprehensive health care services that have been denied to vulnerable communities for almost 50 years. As a result, #Fight4HER in North Carolina has over 6,000 petitions signed in support of repealing the Helms Amendment and encourages conversation about the issue.

Reproductive Rights Activism in North Carolina

NCND spoke with Chloe Martin, a Summer of HER fellow, about her experience with the #FightforHER campaign. Summer of HER is a summer-long activist institute whose campaign trains its fellows in grassroots organizing. Martin told NCND, “I’ve been able to use my voice more than ever before, and I’m learning valuable campaign tactics.” Becoming engaged in the political process, especially considering the upcoming election, is something Martin believes matters as a young person. 

Reproductive Rights HER summit North Carolina
2019 HER Summit [Source: Population Connection Action Fund]

#Fight4HER Empty Town Hall

The campaign hosts events to draw draw constituents’ and legislators’ attention to reproductive rights. For example, #Fight4HER hosted a digital town hall last week targeting NC Senator Thom Tillis. The town hall presented a conversation on reproductive rights and healthcare in North Carolina. #Fight4Her calls the town hall “empty” because of Senator Tom Tillis’ silence on those reproductive issues.

Speakers at the town hall included Congresswoman Alma Adams and Democratic congressional candidate Deborah Ross, as well as several Summer of HER fellows. Chloe Martin was one of the fellows who spoke at the event. So too did Cora Martin and Jenny Teague. Each speaker advocated for reproductive rights through various angles, to present multiple perspectives in the issue’s support.

During the town hall, Adams expressed her support for the Global HER Act by saying, “”It’s time to end this policy. Instead, we should be putting women and girls in charge of their own reproductive health here in the U.S. and around the world.” Ross spoke about the importance of young activists in the fight for reproductive rights: “I am so excited that we have a generation of young people who are fired up and ready to go – we need your energy and we need your passion.”

What’s Next for #Fight4HER?

To learn what’s next for #Fight4Her, or to learn more about the Global Gag Rule follow @Fight4HERNC on Twitter and Instagram.