World Population Awareness

Funding, Accords, Politics, Legislation


ICPD Cairo 1994, UNFPA

Support the UNFPA

   July 31, 2012, Friends of UNFPA

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. Your support today will help improve and save lives in the 150 countries around the world where UNFPA operates. doclink

Controversy Shadows UN Population Meeting

   April 29, 2013, International Development

Last week the 46th session of the Commission on Population and Development concluded at U.N. headquarters. 45 member nations participated. The five-day session was described as fraught with tension and disagreement because most of the states were "concerned about the economic implications of migration, looking at the effects of remittances," said Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman, chief executive of leading Pakistani NGO Awaz Foundation. He said the connection between health and migration was frequently overlooked. "Many member states are less interested in highlighting issues related to particularly HIV/AIDS and overall sexual and reproductive health rights and gender identity issues and how these can particularly affect migrants," he continued.

The global remittance flows of migration were an estimated $534 billion in 2012, although the U.N. estimates that twice this amount could have been transferred informally.

In October a high-level dialogue on migration and development will be held that will help lay the foundation for how migration will be incorporated into the post-2015 agenda.

The number of internagional migrants reached 214 million in 2010, up from 155 million in 1990, according to U.N. figures.

About half of today's international migrants are women, an extremely vulnerable group, unlikely to receive access to the social and health protections that they need from gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Member states from South Asia and some Arab nations like Qatar, as well as Nigeria and the Vatican, opposed the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health language in a consensus agreement. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I found the coverage of this meeting sparse and confusing. I welcome any better explanation of what happened at this meeting.

Family Planning Summit Could Mark Turning Point for Maternal Health

   June 7, 2012, Mail and Guardian

Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths and human misery.

Over 200 million women, mostly in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can't access them, facing cultural barriers or family resistance, or not having access to contraceptives, or there is a lack of information or trained workers to give advice.

In London in July a family planning summit is being co-hosted by the UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where an initiative will be planned to tackle the estimated $3.6bn (£2.3bn) annual shortfall in investment. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.

The summit's aim is to mobilise the political will and extra resources needed to give 120 million more women access to family planning by 2020. This ambitious target is one that is desperately needed. Hundreds of thousands of women continue to die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Without new urgency and impetus, many developing countries will not only fail to meet the MDG target to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 but for decades to come. This would be a betrayal of the most vulnerable people and communities on our planet and an affront to our sense of justice.

For every mother who dies, 20 more suffer from chronic ill health and disability. Uncontrolled pregnancy has a much wider impact on the life chances of women and their children - and the health and strength of their communities. doclink

House Foreign Affairs Committee Votes to Defund UNFPA

   October 6, 2011, Ms Magazine

The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to defund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the vote 23 Republicans to 17 Democrats.

The Huffington Post said, "If the U.S were to give $50 million to the UNFPA in 2012" it "could prevent 7,000 maternal and newborn deaths, provide surgeries to 10,000 women afflicted by an obstetric fistula, and offer contraception to about 1 million couples who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it."

Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) stated, "Tragically, the bill takes aim at poor women and children in the developing world - women and children who all too often suffer from the effects of disease, war, rape, and a host of absolutely horrid conditions that few of us can even begin to imagine. Rather than helping these desperate people - as UNFPA seeks to do - the legislation makes them pawns in a debate over social issues that often seems divorced from reality."

House Republicans claim that their desire to defund the UNFPA stems from the organization's support of China's one-child policy, which requires women obtain abortions and sterilization. However, Sarah Craven, chief of the Washington branch of the UNFPA, denied these claims, stating, "Not a dime of U.S, money goes to China, and not one dime goes to abortion." An investigation conducted by the State Department, which found "no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization," supports Craven's assertion. doclink

According to Engenderhealth: Democrats on the committee offered various amendments to allow U.S. money to UNFPA to be directed to specific programs, such as ending child marriage and female genital mutilation, preventing and repairing obstetric fistula, and providing safe birth kits to pregnant women following a natural disaster, but these were turned down by the Republicans.

UN Official Urges More Investment, Efforts on Issues of Population Amid Financial Crisis

   March 30, 2009, Xinhua General News Service

A senior UN official urged countries to increase social investment and redouble efforts for an international population agenda. The financial crisis threatens to push 200 million people back into poverty. The financial crisis is threatening to wipe out progress in improving health and reducing poverty.

Countries must put people first and the long- term well-being of the majority over the short-term interests of a few.

Increase social investment and redouble efforts for the ICPD agenda by investing in women, youth and migrants.

Established in 1946, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) is an international agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. doclink

Family Planning and the Path to Progress

   January 24, 2009, New York Times*

Obama pledged to restore the money while signing an order reversing a move by Bush that banned American government aid for family-planning organizations that, promoted or conducted abortions.

Sixty percent of people living in poverty are women. Two-thirds of the 960 million illiterate adults are women. Seventy percent of children out of school are girls. Women are the givers and keepers of life.

A cofounder of Friends of the UNFPA, was elated to see the Global Gag Rule gone and to see President Obama's statement of support. As of 2009, our movement, (begun in 2002 when the Bush Administration refused to release $34 million) asking at least one dollar from 34 million Americans, has garnered $4,000,000.

The money has permitted UNFPA to increase its support for family planning, to train doctors and midwives, save women's lives in childbirth, repair obstetric fistulas, discouraged forced early marriage, and to educate adolescents about AIDS.

By 2050 the world's population is expected to rise to nine billion people, all of whom will be seeking food, water, and other resources. This growth in population will exacerbate every environmental and humanitarian crisis we face today. Gender inequality is at the base of population and environmental issues. Hillary Clinton stated: Of particular concern is the plight of women and girls who comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid.

UNFPA offers the family planning that allows women to choose if and when have children. In the world there is a vast unmet demand for family planning, that can mitigate the worst of humanitarian and environmental crises. doclink

U.S.: Maternal Health Donations Overflow Bush Blockade

   November 8, 2007, WomensENews

The U.N. Population Fund picked up more than $200 million in new commitments over five years from the UK. UK has allocated more than $40 million per year to the fund.

Contributions are voluntarily allocated at the discretion of 180 U.N. member nations. The fund received $269 million in 2001, $389 million in 2006 and $411 million in 2007.

The organization that since 2002 has been shunned by the administration of the White House that withholds funding via a policy loophole that had its genesis during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Congress passed an amendment giving the president discretion to withhold funding from any group or agency involved in coercive abortion or sterilization. The White House has refused to release funding for the agency that was appropriated by Congress.

The withheld U.S. funding since 2002 would have allowed the UNFPA to prevent 244,000 maternal deaths. Private citizens are being encouraged to support the UNFPA through a new web service that allows a user to enter information about herslf with the idea that women around the world can begin to compare their common experiences.

Another new online tool is the MDG Monitor web site, that uses data to track progress in meeting the U.N. MDG's Visitors can quickly check global comparison of data that include maternal mortality rates and girl-boy ratios of school enrollments.

The Bush administration contends that because the UNFPA provides financial and technical resources to China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, it supports the Chinese government's program of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization.

The chief of the Washington office of UNFPA says the program in China promotes a voluntary approach to family planning and last year, spent $3.69 million in China.

Abortions declined by 18 percent between 2003 and 2005 in the counties in China where the UNFPA worked.

At least 200 million women lack access to the contraceptives they desire in order to plan their families or space their children. Reproductive health conditions are the leading cause of death and illness among women of childbearing age. Demand for family planning services is expected to increase by 4% over the next 15 years.

Other major donors promised to devote more than $1.4 billion to the overall cause of reducing maternal mortality.

The Gates Foundation, which in 2006 received a gift of $31 billion from Warren Buffett and has so far pledged $563 million to maternal health, vowed to take further action. Over $486 million has already been paid out.

Japan promised to focus on global health when it hosts the Group of Eight economic summit in Hokkaido Toyako in July 2008. doclink

What's the Status of Women Got to Do with Family Planning? Everything!

   July 22, 2007, Redlands Daily Facts

Sixty-million women and girls are "missing" in Asia, thanks to sex-selective abortion, female infanticide and neglect of the girl child. Millions of girls are not sent to school and are forced to marry at young ages. When a girl goes to school and learns how to read, she is empowered throughout her entire life. She marries later, has fewer children, sends them to school, earns income and participates more in the life of her community. Illiteracy leads to poverty and powerlessness, the root causes of violence against women, sex trafficking, and other ills.

The Cairo Consensus of 1994 promised universal access to primary education. Unfortunately, this agreement has not been honored. Lack of access to reproductive health services means that more than 500,000 women die in childbirth every year and 40 per minute seek unsafe abortion. Millions of women who play by all the rules of faithfulness in marriage contract the AIDS virus.

Because of the low status of women in many cultures, and of religions of all stripes which limit the spheres in which women and girls can participate, the world is digging an unnecessary hole for itself.

The UNFPA is a leader in the fight for the education, health and human rights of the world's women. In 2006, 180 countries allocated funds for UNFPA but not our own. doclink

World Population Day: U.S. Funding Continues to Stumble

   July 11, 2007, InterPress Service

The U.S. remains the only major donor that continues to cut off funds to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Since 2002, the U.S. has withheld about 161 million dollars in funding on a false claim that UNFPA supports coercive abortion in China.

The State Department team investigated UNFPA-supported projects in China and submitted a report stating, "based on what we heard, saw, and read, we find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation in the PRC [People's Republic of China].

UNFPA has never -- and will never -- be involved in coercion in China or any part of the world.

The majority of Americans support the work of UNFPA, and we hope that a new president, Republican or Democrat, will listen to the views of voters and support UNFPA.

There is a role for both government and private philanthropy to provide support for UNFPA. Private philanthropy is not sufficient to meet the needs for the health and dignity of women. Government support is vital both financially and morally.

Over 100,000 individuals and donors have contributed nearly 3.5 million dollars to the 34 Million Friends of UNFPA campaign. In 2006, 180 countries contributed a total of 360 million dollars to the regular resources of UNFPA. It also highlights the importance of sexual and reproductive health, as well as HIV prevention, for development.

The number of UNFPA donor countries has increased over the last few years, from 69 in 1999; to 172 in 2005; to last year's new high of 180.

The top six donors were the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Britain, Japan and Denmark. doclink

President Bush's Appeal to Religious Fundamentalists

   June 25, 2007, Population Institute

Opposition to abortion is a cornerstone of the Bush administration. The President blocks funds for UNFPA, the international agency that has prevented more abortions than any other policy.

Congress votes to contribute U.S. funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the but when these bills reach President Bush's desk, they die, because China is one of the more than 100 countries in which UNFPA operates.

President Bush is convinced, as were conservative Presidents before him, that China's national family planning program is driven by forced abortion and coercive sterilization. The Chinese government has denied this allegation for more than 20 years. China, the world's most populous country, employs draconian measures to put the brakes on further population growth. These have included reducing food rations, reducing living space and denying school choice to parents who have children beyond a couple's first child.

It has not been resolved, however, whether the Chinese government is perpetrating coercion. Beyond the moral repugnance of government dictating bedroom decisions, it is a strategy that is unnecessary and likely unworkable. Studies indicate that when couples have access to family planning information, education and supplies, they choose to limit their family size.

To correct the administration's policy, a bill in the House of Representatives calling for a $34 million fiscal year 2008 appropriation to UNFPA, would ensure detailed presidential accountability for refusing to release these congressionally appropriated funds.

In the 32 Chinese counties that receive UNFPA assistance, not only have maternal deaths declined, but abortions have decreased from 24 per 1,000 women to 10 per 1,000 women. doclink

Record Number of Countries Contribute Record Amount to UN Population Fund

   January 15, 2007, UN News Centre

180 countries contributed $360 million to UNFPA last year, the highest number since the organization began. The top six donors were the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Japan and Denmark. Every nation in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as sub-Saharan Africa, pledged funds to UNFPA in 2006.

In 2005, co-financing income reached $158 million, which included contributions for two emergencies, the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.

Co-financing income in 2006 reached the same high level. Universal access to reproductive health is vital for poverty eradication, and requires partnerships and efforts from governments and the civil society. UNFPA promotes the right of every person to a life of health and equal opportunity. It supports countries in using population data for programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted. doclink

UN Population Fund's Governing Body Approves New Country Programme for China

   January 30, 2006, UN News Centre

UNFPA has approved a $27 million, five-year programme of assistance to China that promotes and protects human rights. Ten European countries that provide most of UNFPA's funding said the support to China has played a crucial role and is in strict conformity with the unanimously adopted Programme of Action of the ICPD. That meeting placed the rights of people at the heart of population activities. The 10 European countries aligned themselves with the statement by South Africa "In geographical areas where UNFPA is working, the client-centered service not only provided choices to many ordinary people, particularly women, but also improved the reproductive health situation in these areas." The Fund will continue to give priority to reproductive health and HIV prevention, concentrating on the 30 Chinese counties that have experimented with ways to give clients control over reproductive decisions. The Fund has pledged continued efforts to advocate for a rights-based approach and an end to coercion. doclink

UNFPA Governing Body Approves New Country Programme for China

   January 30, 2006, UNFPA

UNFPA approved the sixth programme of assistance to China, totalling $27 million over five years. Ten European countries that provide most of UNFPA's funding said that the agency's support to China has played a crucial and successfully demonstrates that a client-oriented quality approach to reproductive health and family planning is an alternative to a target-driven administrative system. The countries declared: UNFPA's activities in China are in strict conformity with the unanimously adopted programme and play a key role in the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. In areas where UNFPA is working, the client-centered service not only provided choices to many ordinary people, but improved the reproductive health situation. The programme has contributed to reproductive health and family planning. The Fund will continue to give priority in 2006-2010 to reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention. During the last programme, China adopted national standards including the removal of birth targets and quotas. UNFPA will continue to advocate an end to coercion. In project counties in poor, western China, hospital deliveries increased from 74% to 91%. The programme will also support the policies to address population ageing and gender-related concerns. doclink

Many Charts of Women's Progress Remain Blank

   January 18, 2006, InterPress Service

The paucity of national statistics is impinging negatively on four new areas: violence against women; poverty; power and decision-making; and human rights. The more developed regions report the most data and the (50) least developed countries (LDCs) the least. In Africa less than a third of the 54 countries were able to provide data on births, deaths and economic characteristics of Africa's population by sex. One of the shortcomings in this area is the collection of data disaggregated by sex and of data focusing on gender issues. Regular and reliable national statistics are required for policy formulation, planning and for evaluation of national development goals. The world's least developed countries require national commitment and public support by women's groups, to strengthen three essential activities: First, conducting a census of the total population. Second, strengthening survey capability to address topics requiring further detail and explanation. Third, a civil registration system that registers births and deaths by sex and age. National statistics are required for assessment of progress. There has been little increase in the number of countries collecting and reporting the number of births and deaths by sex and age in their population over the last 30 years. UNFPA said the production of gender statistics has been impaired by the mere lip service, paid to gender equality in society in general. Female births are often not registered because girls may not enjoy the same value as boys. Many censuses under-represent women because of a lack of recognition of their economic and social contributions. doclink

How U.N. Population Fund Rescues Women - by Carolyn B. Maloney

   November 17, 2005, Wall Street Journal

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D., N.Y.) says that the president publicly expresses concern about China's family planning practices, but hasn't pressed China on the issue and instead has withheld $34 million from the U.N. Population Fund for programs around the world. According to the conclusions of Mr. Bush's own delegation, the Fund doesn't participate, support or condone forced-abortion activities in China. The Fund is a force for human-rights progress. In the 32 counties where it works, coercion has been halted, contraceptive use is up, abortion is down. The administration's policy denies critical health services from poor women in the 146 other countries where the fund operates. Maloney's bill would help women in Africa by funding the campaign to end obstetric fistula. doclink

U.S.: Clinton Hits China Policy on Abortion

   November 11, 2005, New York Sun (US)

Senator Clinton proclaimed her support for ending lawlessness in the Middle East and denounced terrorist attacks in Jordan. The senator lambasted China for its policy of "forced abortion" and requesting President Bush to take the Chinese president to task for human rights abuses. Mrs. Clinton's comments came as she faces a backlash for her ongoing support for military action in Iraq. Mrs. Clinton extended her "condolences and sympathy" to the people of Jordan in the wake of an Al Qaeda attack and said they were a "further brutal reminder of the importance of the rule of law, and the necessity of our efforts to spread the rule of law and help to embed it in societies as a guarantee not only of freedom but against violence." Mrs. Clinton urged President Bush to make clear to China that the United States strongly opposes forced abortion and sterilization, restrictions on religious freedom, the lack of workers' rights, and the oppression of Tibet. Mrs. Clinton's call for America to continue the worldwide spread of freedom met with criticism as some said her comments insinuated that Jordan lacked "the rule of law." Mrs Clinton has become the subject of attacks by Cindy Sheehan, and other elements of the antiwar movement. Mrs. Clinton will face demonstrations against her as she seeks re-election to the Senate and will result in a challenge to her from an antiwar Democrat in 2008. A veteran pollster said that while he was skeptical of a Feinstein challenge to Mrs. Clinton in 2008, he was certain a credible candidate would emerge to attack Mrs. Clinton from her left flank. The remainder of Mrs. Clinton's speech focused on increasing the freedom of women and girls at home and abroad. She said America needed to "ensure that women enjoy the fundamental right to plan their own families and have access to family-planning services." doclink

The article did not say whether or not Senator Clinton supported the UNFPA. Surely she is aware of the controversy surrounding the UNFPA and false claims by Bush that the UNFPA supported forced abortions in China.

The Future of the International Family Planning Movement

   July 27, 2005, Population Reference Bureau

The availability, use, and funding of family planning worldwide has seen a revolution in the last 50 years, dramatically reducing fertility levels and slowing population growth in developing countries. But contraceptive use is still low and need for it high in some of the world's poorest and most populous places.

In the 1970s and 1980s family planning was in the spotlight, but recently not so much recently as as issues such as HIV/AIDS and poverty alleviation. Perhaps its success has led to its recent loss of visibility.

Recently key informants - developing-country program managers, senior staff members of nongovernmental and donor organizations, and prominent researchers - were surveyed in a study supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute of Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins University. One key informant in the study said: "When you hesitate to say the words 'family planning,' something is happening. When you say 'reproductive health' and have to be careful, something is happening."

There is a declining sense of urgency about population growth and its consequences; competing health and development priorities; rising political conservatism (especially in the United States); and a lack of international and local leadership. Poverty reduction was cited as the primary focus of current development efforts.

The agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) meeting in Cairo in 1994 emphasized the welfare of individual women, the achievement of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender equity. This redefinition of the social problem of population growth in terms of reproductive health, particularly for women, has caused popular consciousness about the problem to ebb, since reproductive health does not carry the same political vitality as a developmental disaster or disease epidemic.

"When reproductive health becomes too big, family planning gets lost. The trouble is that it's no longer a focused program. It's difficult for donors to see, to manage and implement." In 1995, family planning received 55% of total worldwide population-assistance expenditures, while basic research and reproductive health received 18% each and HIV/STIs received 9%. In 2003, HIV/STIs received 47% of total worldwide population-assistance expenditures, while reproductive health received 25%, basic research 15%, and family planning 13%. Compared to the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, preventing unintended pregnancies is now perceived internationally as much less compelling and less urgent.

While there was general agreement that collaboration between family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs was appropriate, there seemed to be distinct lack of collaboration between the fields. Young people who used to be attracted to the family planning field when it was seen as a critical social need are reportedly going into fields that are perceived to be more urgent today, such as HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood, and poverty alleviation, while some older, experienced leaders who formerly worked in family planning have moved on. That and lack of funding for advanced training means that leadership in family planning is aging or lacking.

Strong opposition from abortion opponents is also a disincentive to work in the family planning field. Some respondents felt that the international family planning movement was in it's demise, but others felt that the movement would continue with the locus of action shifiting to the developing world in those countries that have major contraceptive needs, a rapidly growing population, and a policy commitment to slowing growth. Others felt that women's motivation to control fertility is so strong (and the social norm of family planning so well established) that contraceptive use will continue to rise no matter what happens to family planning programs.

Some felt the message of family planning could be recast (1) addressing an unfinished agenda of unmet contraceptive need, unwanted fertility, stalled fertility decline, and shortages of contraceptive supplies; (2) highlighting family planning's benefits for reducing abortion and improving women's status and health; and (3) demonstrating family planning's relevance in reducing social inequity. Many saw the risks of increased poverty, poor health, and higher mortality as a result of high fertility and population growth rates.

"The population theme is both a threat and an opportunity. It needs to be better utilized, not for Malthusian reasons, but in order to rise above poverty," said one respondent. doclink

Malaysia: Poor Nations Urged to Cast Away Outdated Religious Tenets to Improve Women's Lot

   May 9, 2005, Associated Press

At the opening of a two-day ministerial meeting of Nonaligned Movement members on the advancement of women, Malaysia's prime minister said that developing countries, especially Muslim nations, must challenge outdated customs and religious teachings that keep their women poor and powerless. Groups opposed to the empowerment of women have often used religion and cultural norms to perpetuate discrimination. It takes courage and fortitude to challenge long held and deeply ingrained beliefs about the role of women in society, particularly if religion is the main reason for their subjugation. Women in some parts of the world have become more emancipated, but continue to be marginalized and discriminated against in many Muslim countries. Women still suffer from a lack of education, resources, and job insecurity. The situation is worse in countries torn by war and armed conflicts and are raped, tortured, maimed and subjected to unspeakable crimes. Ministers were expected at the meeting to issue a declaration pledging to protect women from war and diseases and provide them with more political and economic power. A draft proposes wide-ranging measures as well as affirmative action policies to eliminate gender discrimination. The countries are expected to express their grave concern over the suffering of Palestinian and Syrian women under Israeli occupation, according to the draft. The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of poor nations that tried to stay neutral during the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War, the movement has continued to work to reverse the marginalization of Third World countries in world affairs. doclink

UN, World Bank Asked to Set Example, Promote More Women

   April 2, 2005, Agence France Presse

Carol Bellamy, director of UNICEF, pointed a finger at her own organization as a laggard in women's rights. The UN needs to put women in senior jobs. Other global institutions ought to recruit women in their top ranks. There are many opportunities, starting with the openings heading up UNDP and the World Bank. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan agreed with her, and said we have to try harder. According to official figures, women hold only nine of 27 jobs as director of a UN agency or program, and 12 out of 54 senior posts in the UN Secretariat. The White House, which traditionally chooses the World Bank president, is reported to be considering Carly Fiorina, the ex-chief executive of Hewlett Packard and one of the top US executives. Another vacant UN position is High Commissioner for Refugees, and the UN has recently solicited nominations from its 191 member states. Until now, many senior UN appointments have been handled through non-transparent political negotiations to meet with the UN charter's recommendation of equitable geographic representation. doclink

Women's Rights Wrongly Ignored

   February 28, 2005, Des Moines Register

In Nigeria, it's legal for men to assault their wives. In Haiti and Syria, a man can kill his wife for defiling his honor. Here in America rape and domestic violence are at epidemic levels. While American women can vote, American voters have never put a woman in the highest office although Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Great Britain, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Israel and Ukraine have. The most blatant forms of state-sanctioned sex discrimination endure, are condoned and enforced by governments. Women around the world are still persecuted and discriminated against. As the world's only superpower, the U.S. has a burden of leadership as women around the world look to us to lead the way. The administration has halted funding to the UNPF claiming it supports forced abortions and the White House has threatened to withhold aid to other agencies with ties to UNFPA. In recent gatherings, while affirming its commitment to the rights of women, U.S. delegates have stressed abstinence and fidelity to fight AIDS. Compounding the mixed messages is the Senate's refusal to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Without ratification, the U.S. can't take part in encouraging women's rights. Only 10 percent of U.N. nations haven't ratified it. Every time there's a change in the White House, the rules on global women's rights get rewritten. doclink

Have-Nots Help Defuse Population Bomb: UN Director Takes Heart From Poor Countries' Response to U.S. Pullout

   February 28, 2005, Ottawa Citizen (Canada)

When George Bush cut his country's donation to the UNPF, the poorest countries stepped in. Afghanistan sent $10, The Republic of Congo $1,000. The Palestinian Authority and Somalia sent small but significant donations. The U.S. withdrew its contribution because of allegations that the family planning agency is complicit in forced abortions in China. The U.S. money was intended for safe motherhood services, contraceptives and HIV prevention services to women in the world's poorest countries. Canada's contributions were increased to almost $17 million. Before the U.S. cut funds, the UNFPA had only 92 donors - now 166 contribute. The issues addressed by the UNFPA are more serious than anyone could have imagined. In 1995, eight million women were infected with HIV. Now, there are 17.6 million. Millions of women don't have access to family planning, are being raped, and maternal mortality rates are high. HIV and reproductive rights activists must work together. The pro-abstinence policies of the U.S. are criticized as AIDS has a young married woman's face and abstaining from sex with their husbands isn't an option - they need contraceptive services. doclink

Mother and Child Health Services in Thai Tsunami Zone Expanded by UNFPA

   February 25, 2005, UN News Centre

UNFPA announced it is restoring its health services, including HIV/AIDS prevention, in the coastal region of Thailand devastated by the tsunami and expanding its work into the communities of immigrants from Myanmar. UNFPA said that Mahidol University would survey people in the area to determine their needs and local people would help plan the programmes. UNFPA emphasized the vulnerable situation of migrant workers from Mynanmar who have been essential for rebuilding the commercial fishing and construction sectors.UNFPA, in partnership with World Vision, hope to provide emergency housing and safe water for displaced Thai and migrant families. doclink

China Defends 'One Child' Birth Limits against U.S. Criticism

   December 21, 2004, Associated Press

China rejected U.S. complaints that its birth controls encourage abortions, saying the regulations that limit most urban couples to one child are necessary for the country's economic health. U.S. said that despite improvements, China's policy to restrain the growth of its population is coercive. Speaking at a news briefing, Liu said forced abortions are illegal in China and anyone who knows of them should report them to authorities. Under the Chinese policy, couples who have unsanctioned children can be fined, lose their jobs or undergo sterilization. In 2002, under strong U.S. pressure, Beijing enacted a national law aimed at standardizing birth-control policies and reducing corruption and coercion. Bush's administration has for the last three years barred U.S. funds for the U.N. Population Fund, saying its support allows China to carry out coercive abortions. doclink

Child Marriage

   December 16, 2004, Chicago Tribune

Before they become women, more than 51 million girls in developing countries become wives and mothers and victims of HIV, domestic violence, poverty and social rejection. The consequences of child marriage are negative and lasting. When you consider the health consequences and the human cost, this is probably the largest human rights abuse you could name. The Bush administration withdrawal of funding for UNFPA has had repercussions in the battle to fight and treat the ravages of child marriage. UNFPA officials deny that they support or participate in any program involving abortion or sterilization. But the loss of U.S. funding, 13% of UNFPA budget, has sapped the efforts in an array of maternal issues, including the treatment of obstetric fistula. They have concerns about coercive abortions in China and that's why we are working on appropriate family planning and coercion is wrong. doclink

State Department Says Abuses Still Rampant in China's Family Planning

   December 14, 2004, Associated Press

Despite changes, China's one-child program includes coercion, forced abortions, infanticide and imbalanced boy-girl ratios, State Department officials said. A Shanghai woman who, since her second pregnancy, has been assigned to psychiatric wards, was coerced into abortion and removed from her job. She is subject to torture in a labor camp said U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith, and there are thousands of other victims. Couples who have unsanctioned children have been subject to heavy fines, job losses and forced sterilization. There have been modifications, allowing second children for ethnic populations and rural families whose first child is a girl. In 2002, Beijing enacted a national law aimed at standardizing birth-control policies and reducing corruption and coercion and there are encouraging signs that China understands that its coercive birth-planning regime has had negative social, economic and human rights consequences for the nation. In some areas there is a strong desire for male heirs, and the sex ratio may be as much as 122 boys for every 100 girls. In southern Guangdong Province, party secretaries and village heads were told their salaries would be cut in half if, in a 35-day period, they did not sterilize 1,369 people, fit 818 with IUDs and carry out 163 abortions. George Bush's administration has for the last three years barred U.S. funds for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) charging that its support of China's programs allows China to implement its policies of coercive abortion. doclink

The UNFPA in China has promoted voluntary family planning and contraception which avoids abortion and forced sterilization. The UNFPA does not promote abortion and involuntary sterilization.

Population Fund Signs New Accord with Nearly 80 Developing Countries

   October 25, 2004, United Nations Population Fund

Seventy-nine governments of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) signed an agreement with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to work together to tackle problems of reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed on at a UN summit in September 2000, include the aim to halve poverty by 2015. The UNFPA-ACP agreement promotes policy relationships between reproductive health, gender equality, girls' education, women's empowerment and sustainable development. UNFPA will help ACP countries ensure that the goals of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) are included in programmes to promote sustainable development. doclink

Support the Bingaman Amendment on UNFPA!

   September 22, 2004, Sierra Club


Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your Senators. (The bill may be considered on the Senate Floor as early as tomorrow)

Tell your Senators to support restoring a U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) by supporting Senator Bingaman's (D-NM) amendment to the Senate Foreign Operations appropriations bill.

Water shortages, climate change, air pollution and many other environmental problems are directly linked to and exacerbated by the growing global population. Protecting the planet must also include protecting and improving women's lives, here at home, and in every country. Increased access to voluntary family planning is a long-term environmental solution. By giving people more control over their own futures, UNFPA has improved the lives of millions of families around the world. Sadly, the Bush administration's elimination of US support to UNFPA for the last three years has denied the funding that could have been used to prevent 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 induced abortions, 77,000 infant and child deaths, and 4,700 maternal deaths each year. doclink

Angola: Families Living Standards Improved - UNPF Director

   July 12, 2004, Angola Press Agency

In Luanda the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) has scored progress towards improving the families living standards, with school enrollment and life expectancy on the rise. The number of women and couples choosing their reproduction spacing is rising, with many taking measures to fight HIV. Women and adolescents are advised on the sexually transmitted diseases prevention and take measures to protect themselves against violence and bad treatment. doclink

Latin America and Caribbean to Adopt Text on Population and Development

   July 2, 2004, UN News Centre

At a San Juan, Puerto Rico meeting, the US is set to join in the declaration by Latin American and Caribbean countries reaffirming support for the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. The Programme is on reproductive health and rights to eradicate poverty, reduce social inequalities and eliminate the gender gap. The reaffirmation document was adopted last March in Santiago, Chile. At that forum, the U.S. had expressed the lone dissent, dissociating itself from the Santiago Declaration. Washington decided to join the consensus after participants agreed to note the report of the preliminary meeting. doclink

Drive for Votes Harms U.S. Policy

   June 27, 2004, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

By fighting family planning, the administration will drive up populations in poor countries, deprive Americans of pregnancy prevention and worsen the problems of overcrowding. It has expanded its attacks on the UNFPA, cut off funds to associated agencies and tried to persuade other countries to kowtow to anti-abortion orthodoxy. The FDA threw out scientific judgments, to deny approval of non-prescription sales of emergency contraception. Health education is skewed toward abstinence-only. Americans support family planning, especially contraception, but political advisers want to support the right-wing. The administration has charged the UNFPA with supporting forced abortions, although investigations rejected the charges. The UN Population Fund's results in China provide a call so people can enjoy the economic, social and environmental benefits. If the administration continues, the decision is likely to hinge on how to win on Nov. 2. doclink

Population and Politics

   June 22, 2004, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Bush administration is seeking to weaken the United Nations Population Fund fund by ostracizing it. The administration has targeted the population fund as being complicit in coerced abortions and sterilizations as it operates in China, whose leadership pressures families that exceed their quota of children. Last year, the State Department denied money to Marie Stopes International, a British charity that works to prevent AIDS as it worked with the population fund in China. Now it has warned international organizations that address health problems that their U.S. support may be imperiled if they work alongside the population fund. To say that all these groups condone forced abortions is ridiculous. The fund's efforts to help families voluntarily limit their size lessen the likelihood of abortions. The fund also helps women have healthy babies, and educates people in avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and preventing violence against women. doclink

Countries Committed to Population Issues and Reproductive Health, New Global Survey Shows

   June 21, 2004, UNFPA

Family planning policies are established around the world, and the use of family planning is on the rise. Population and gender issues are becoming institutionalized, and women are getting more involved. However obstacles impede development efforts. The 20-year Cairo programme represented a new vision about population and development. Responses from 169 countries report the steps they have taken to implement the measures related to population, gender equality, reproductive rights and health. It also presents actions still needed to achieve the goals. A significant progress has been achieved and the challenge during the next 10 years is to build on this progress. Countries have a sense of awareness and are defining and focusing on national priorities. Global consensus is critical to halving extreme poverty by 2015. More than 90% of countries have integrated family planning and safe motherhood into their health care and integrated reproductive health education into school curricula. Many have established AIDS programmes to deal with the pandemic; and also migration and population ageing programmes. The most notable obstacles are the inadequate financial resources by donor countries. doclink

U.N. Population Fund Counts 142 Donor Countries; UNFPA Reports Donor Increases in 2003

   December 29, 2003, UN Wire

The UNFPA stated that during 2003 it received donations from 142 of the 194 member estates, more than double the number in 1999. The fund's 2003 budget was $294 million. Top donors were the Netherlands, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden. New donors included Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, East Timor and Uzbekistan. The United States rescinded its $34 million donation in July 2002 amid allegations by conservative religious groups that the UNFPA was funding forced abortions in China. doclink

Politics, Prejudice in Way of Family Planning

   July 28, 2003, Peoria Journal Star

Political unrest and war in Asia and Africa are making it tougher to promote family planning and literacy. Pakistan and Afghanistan are expected to grow 134% in next 50 years and Pakistan will be the fourth most populous country. Terrorism and hopelessness are linked, and this is not good for the US or the world. Support for family planning should be high priority for the US. But on July 14, the House of Representatives voted 216-211 to refuse to contribute to the UN Population Fund because money goes to China and supports abortions. A study last year found the allegation false. U.N. money has prevented forced abortions. But neither that report, nor the support given to family planning programs in 140 countries where abortion has not been an issue, kept President Bush from threatening to veto any bill that gives money to the UN Population Fund. The House vote means more unnecessary abortions, increased HIV, and more women dying in childbirth. It also means more babies will be born to families without the resources to care for them. This is not in the national interest, and makes for unwanted pregnancies. It serves politics and prejudices. doclink

UNFPA, Kemp-Kasten and the Crowley-Lee Amendment

   May 30, 2003,

The House International Relations Committee approved the Crowley-Lee amendment that clarifies the Kemp-Kasten law that permitted the Administration to eliminate funding for UNFPA. This takes family planning closer to renewed U.S. funding. The Kemp-Kasten provision in current law prohibits US funds from going to an organization that participates in a program of involuntary abortion or sterilization. This language has been unevenly applied, recently to cut off funding for UNFPA activities in China. The Crowley amendment seeks to maintain the protections while prohibiting US funds from going to UNFPA only if it directly participates in coercive abortion or sterilization. This clarification is needed because of recent devastating consequences for poor women and men around the world due to lack of funding. China is an egregious violator of reproductive rights and UNFPA implemented a program in 32 Chinese counties demonstrating that voluntary family planning programs should be universally adopted and birth quotas eliminated. A hand-picked Administration team traveled to China in 2002 and found no evidence that "UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in the PRC" and recommended that US funds be released to UNFPA (The Team's letter to Secretary Powell, May 29, 2002). doclink

U.N. Population Fund Deserves Our Support

   March 30, 2003, Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

"..although the Population Research Institute was able to convince the Bush Administration to withdraw the $34 million approved by the Congress for the United Nations Population Fund (which does no abortions), the people of the United States are responding by the tens of thousands to an appeal made by Lois Abraham and myself," said Jane Roberts. After a seven-month long grass-roots effort, $767,000 has been raised and $7,000 arrives daily. Jane traveled to Senegal and Mali to see UNFPA's work on site. She talked to women whose lives had been saved by Caesareans and saw babies vaccinated and mothers given the means to space their next pregnancies properly. She saw joint-government UNFPA clinics that have brought maternal mortality rates down, and the children born healthier. Our own State Department has shown that the statement made by PRI about the UNFPA program in China is false and hurts the poorest, most vulnerable women in the 141 other countries where UNFPA has programs. Those "who appreciate the reproductive health care we have in this country can share a little of their good fortune with the world by sending $1 and asking their friends to do the same. Our government may not be participating in the work of the UNFPA, but we the people are." doclink

Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Religion and Women's Rights: An Interview with Thoraya Obaid

   Huffington Post

Thoraya Obaid, a proud Muslim and Saudi Arabian citizen, just completed ten years as Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In her reflections, she said:

"My father was a devout Muslim who took very seriously the first principle in the Quran which is about learning. He insisted that his daughters get a good education and he never interfered with my life choices.

"It was clear from the day I started at UNFPA that it was the most controversial of the UN agencies. The attacks were strongest during the Bush 43 administration years, but we have been attacked all the time, including by feminist groups that fear that UNFPA has 'sold out'".

The attacks come only from the United States. Recent Republican administrations have withdrawn United States funding from UNFPA, citing the "Kemp Kasten Amendment" which was enacted to ensure that no US money goes to any organizations that participates in the management of coercive population policies.

"The issue is that UNFPA works in China, and China is considered by some in Congress and the US administration (when there is a Republican President), to be subject to the Kemp Kasten Amendment. UNFPA's work in China has been reviewed many times, and always with the conclusion that UNFPA has a positive influence on China's policies. The Bush administration sent a team to China that reached the same conclusion, but that made no difference. Throughout President Bush's tenure, Congress appropriated funds for UNFPA but Bush would not release them. It all was the result of the influence of the religious right.

"Democratic Presidents (Clinton and Obama) release the funding, after deducting the small amounts that would be spent on UNFPA's China program; we are asked to put the funds in a separate account and be held accountable for it."

Thoraya Obaid met several times with the Holy See's representative to the United Nations. They agreed to disagree. It was significant that they opened a channel that would allow them to communicate if times got tough. On the ground, in many parts of the world, we work all the time with the Catholic Church on common agendas such as ending violence against women.

"We are working to build relationships and partnerships with a wide range of groups, including but also going beyond the traditional feminist/reproductive health groups. It is important to broaden the base of understanding and support and find ways to support each other. Some groups still have doubts about UNFPA's commitment and approach and some are uneasy specifically about our effort to work with faith groups, fearing that it signals an erosion in our commitment to human rights. It absolutely does not. Today, over 400 faith based groups form the Global Network of Faith-based Organizations for Population and Development.

"By dealing with cultural values and religious beliefs, we aim to promote human rights, never to accept the status quo or harmful practices but rather to expand the reach of the human rights agenda."

"There are some things that we, UNFPA, cannot address and discuss, while some things women's groups can address less effectively.

"Abortion is the most controversial topic. We, UNFPA, are mandated to consider abortion within the context of public health, but never as a right, as some NGOs do. That is a clear parameter from the ICPD Programme of Action, the famous and much contested clause 8.25 which set out the position towards abortion. It states that abortion should never be a form of family planning and that when family planning services are available and accessible that lowers abortions. Abortion is a national issue to be decided by national laws and legislations. Where it is legal, it should be done under good medical conditions. Some women's groups approach the issue differently, viewing abortion in the context of a woman's right to choose. So, though we have many common interests, we deal with them differently.

"Thus there are areas where we can work together with a wide range of religious leaders and women's groups - violence against women, child marriage, and female genital cutting are among them. On the more controversial issues, we need to give some more space and time and show mutual respect for our differences. doclink

US Funding, International FP/RH

Global War on Women Starts Again

   May 18, 2012, Population Action International

Today the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee voted approved a bill that includes dangerous cuts to international family planning, reimposes the Global Gag Rule, and bans funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

This bill funds State Department operations and U.S. foreign assistance programs. The House version places a ceiling on funding for family planning and reproductive health programs at $461 million - 25% below current levels. The bill also includes a legislative codification of the Global Gag Rule and a prohibition on a U.S. contribution to UNFPA the lead UN agency on reproductive health issues.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) made the statement: "The counterproductive, harmful, and unnecessarily divisive cuts and policy riders - including reinstatement of the global gag rule and a ban on funding for the United National Population Fund - on international family planning programs will leave millions of women without access to critical and often life-saving health services, and will result in 1.4 million more abortions next year. It is unconscionable that the majority insists on including these provisions, which run counter to our shared goals of saving mothers' and children's lives, and reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions."

The Guttmacher Institute determined that a cut to overseas family planning of this magnitude will result in 7.7 million fewer women and couples receiving contraceptive services and supplies, 2.2 million more unintended pregnancies, and over 1 million more abortions.

During markup, the committee rejected on largely party-line votes three pro-family planning and reproductive health amendments that were offered by Democratic family planning champions in an attempt to rectify the bill's most blatant attacks.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) tried to strike the entire section in the bill codifying the Global Gag Rule and prohibiting a U.S. contribution to UNFPA, designating $39 million to UNFPA. Her amendment was rejected on a vote of 23 to 27. All committee Democrats and Republican Representatives Dent (R-PA) and Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) supported her amendment.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) tried an amendment designating $39 million to UNFPA only to support UNFPA programs to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to promote the abandonment of female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices, and to ensure safe childbirth and emergency obstetric care, but it failed on a 24 to 24 tie vote.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) wanted a designated $39 million to UNFPA to be used only for family planning services and contraceptive supplies in low-income sub-Saharan African countries where USAID does not provide family planning assistance, but this amendment was defeated on a vote of 22 to 27.

The intent is to bring the bill to the House floor in June after the Memorial Day recess.

The Senate Appropriations Committee's version of a FY 2013 State Department-Foreign Operations bill is widely expected to be the complete opposite of the House legislation, with a robust family planning funding level, a permanent legislative repeal of the Global Gag Rule, and a U.S. contribution to UNFPA.

These diametrically-opposed bills from the House and Senate will set the stage for the high-stakes negotiations on a final bill, not anticipated to occur until after the November election during a "lame duck" session of Congress. doclink

Philippines Axes Contraceptive Budget

Funds earmarked by Benigno Aquino scrapped despite law mandating state provision of birth control to the poor
   January 6, 2016, Guardian   By: Agence France-presse

One of the world's most overcrowded nations has axed the government's budget for contraceptives, despite a law mandating otherwise.

Health secretary Janette Garin, confirmed this recently, adding, "This will have a huge effect since a lot of mothers depend on what the department of health provides."

She said the department would seek private donors to provide funds for contraceptives.

Foreign and local authorities have long called for improved birth control in the Philippines, which has one of Asia's highest birth rates as well as high maternal mortality rates.

The country has a population of about 100 million, roughly 25% of whom live in poverty.

The dominant Catholic church has long opposed efforts to make birth control more widely available for many years.

It was only in 2014 that the supreme court finally upheld a reproductive health law. The law requires government health centres to supply free condoms and birth control pills, as well as mandating sex education in schools. It also requires that public health workers receive family planning training. Medical care after an abortion is to be legalized.

It appears that all the advances in 2014 have been recently reversed.

Four out of five of the Philippine population is Catholic, a legacy of nearly four centuries of Spanish rule that ended with the Spanish-American War in 1898. Since then the Catholic Church has opposed birth control and abortion, and decreed divorce as also illegal. doclink

Aid Rises for Family Planning in Poor Nations

   November 13, 2015, Voice of America News   By: Carol Guensburg

A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that international government funding for family planning services climbed 9% to $1.4 B in 2014. The money will help low- and middle-income nations pay for education, contraceptives delivery, counseling and other services.

The U.S. gave $637 M, almost half of all donations, Australia gave $39M, Canada gave $48 M, and the following E.U. nations provided most of the rest: U.K. $328 M, the Netherlands $164 M, Sweden $70 M, France $70 M, Denmark $29M, Germany $31M and Norway $21M.

At the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, all but two of these countries formed a partnership and pledged to increase their funding until 2020. (Most of them had also upped their 2013 donations.) That partnership's progress report shows just over 290 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries are now using modern contraceptives - - up from 266 million in 2012.

Yet the World Health Organization still estimates that 225 million women in developing countries who want to delay or halt childbearing aren't using modern methods of contraception. Meeting their needs would eliminate 54 million unplanned pregnancies and 26 million abortions, said Rhonda Smith, a research associate at the Population Reference Bureau. She noted that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of unmet need and the world's highest fertility rate, averaging five births per woman. That more than doubles the rate in Asia and almost quadruples the rate in Europe.

Surveys find that lack of access - in terms of cost or distance - is not the foremost reason why many people don't use the services. Smith blames false information. Some women "don't even perceive themselves at risk for pregnancy, either because they're breastfeeding or having sex infrequently." She also noted cultural or religious barriers and unfounded concerns about health risks and the side effects of contraception. doclink

House Bill Slashes Family Planning

   June 11, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund

Today the House Appropriations Committee completed work on the Fiscal Year 2016 State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.

In it, funding for family planning programs in the developing world were cut by almost $150 million, leaving funding for international family planning programs to "not more than $461 million.

The bill also bans any U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its work to expand access to birth control, to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to eliminate female genital mutilation, to ensure access to basic reproductive health care to women in emergency situations, to end the practice of child marriage, and to eliminate coercive practices in China.

In addition the bill calls for a reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which bans family planning aid to foreign health care agencies that use other, private funding to provide legal abortion, to offer counselling or referrals on legal abortion, or that publicly support a policy of legal abortion within their own countries.

This, in effect, disqualifies the most effective, experienced, and respected family planning providers in the developing world from receiving U.S. aid. The results are disastrous. When it was in effect from 2001 to 2009, clinics were forced to close, services had to be cut back, and contraceptive supplies ran dry. AS a result, abortions in several African countries affected by the policy doubled, according to researchers from Stanford University.

The bill is now on track to go to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber. doclink

Guess How Much of Uncle Sam's Money Goes to Foreign Aid. Guess Again!

   February 10, 2015, National Public Radio   By: Poncie Rutsch

Less than 1 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid. In a survey, the average respondent estimated that 26% went toward assisting other countries.

Once they were told that the U.S. spends less than 1% of the federal budget on foreign aid, only 28% still thought the nation was overspending.

The U.S. is pretty generous ... until you consider how much money it has. "On the one hand, you can say that the U.S. is the most generous because it is one of the biggest donators to foreign aid," says Phyllis Pomerantz, a professor of public policy at Duke University. "But on the other hand, we have one of the lowest percentages of gross national income donated to foreign aid," she says. doclink

House GOP Again Targets Birth Control

   June 19, 2014, Population Connection   By: Brian Dixon

The House bill would slash funding for family planning programs in the developing world where there are already a quarter billion women who want to prevent or delay pregnancy but have no access to affordable, appropriate birth control. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who chairs the subcommittee that wrote the bill and who calls herself a supporter of family planning, is proposing a 25% cut in overall funding that would help women in the poorest countries take control of their own lives and futures.

The bill would also ban any aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its work to expand access to birth control, to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to eliminate female genital mutilation, to ensure access to basic reproductive health care to women in emergency situations, to end the practice of child marriage, and to eliminate coercive practices in China.

Granger's bill also calls for a reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, one of the most misguided policies ever created. It bans family planning aid to foreign health care agencies that use other, private funding to provide legal abortion, or to offer counselling or referrals on legal abortion, or that publicly support a policy of legal abortion within their own countries. It effectively disqualifies the most effective, experienced, and respected family planning providers in the developing world from receiving U.S. aid.

The same bill would block U.S. funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We'll be working hard to make sure that this bill never becomes law. Please join us in that fight. Click on the link in the headline to send a Thank You note to Senator Jeanne Shaheen for sponsoring a bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. doclink

Just the Numbers: the Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

   June 15, 2014, Guttmacher Institute

For over 45 years the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a major provider of contraceptive services to the world's poorest people. Helping poor women and families gain control over childbearing choices means fewer unintended, unwanted, and/or risky pregnancies. It also reduces the motive for wanting abortions, which poor people often resort to under unsafe conditions. Planned birth spacing contributes to healthier mothers, babies and families. Having affordable numbers of children improves prosperity for families, communities, and nations. For FY 2014, USAID has allocated $610 million to assist family planning and reproductive health programs, of which $35 million is designated for the UN Population Fund.

This modest funding level is enough to:

• Provide contraceptive services and supplies to 31 million women or couples;

• Avert 7 million unintended pregnancies and 3 million induced abortions;

• Avert 13,000 maternal deaths, meaning that 60,000 fewer children will lose their mothers.

These gains are seriously jeopardized when program funding gets targeted for budget cuts . For example, each $10 million decrease in USAID international family planning and reproductive health assistance:

• Reduces the number receiving contraceptive services and supplies by 520,000;

• Results in 110,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 50,000 more unplanned births;

• Results in 50,000 more mostly unsafe abortions and 200 maternal deaths affecting 900 children. doclink

This U.S. Law Contributes to Women's Deaths Around the World

   May 26, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Alissa Scheller

The Helms Amendment, which passed in 1973 - more than 40 years ago, prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortion as "a method of family planning" or "to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." in 1994 Congress passed legislation to clarify that women in countries receiving aid could be counseled on all pregnancy options, including abortion. However, the Helms Amendment still inhibits funding to family planning agencies.

According to Al Jazeera, in Ethiopia, "a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied the abortion care that is legal in her own country, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care." More than 100 women die each day from complications of unsafe abortions. These deaths often occur in poor countries that receive aid from the U.S. for other medical treatments.

U.S. anti-abortion rules endanger women around the world. WHO studies show that where women can access safe abortions, fewer women have unsafe abortions, and a study in Nepal showed that legalizing abortion cut the maternal mortality rate in half. doclink

Providing Family Planning - Supply Or Demand (pdf)

   May 1, 2014, WOA website   By: Art Elphick

With the current emphasis on voluntary family planning (FP), FP fund raisers focus largely on the over 200 million women who live in places where affordable FP is still unavailable. Their ads imply that if you provide it, they will come. Just help the sponsors service the unmet demand.

But this message oversimplifies the problem. Large and growing families often live where local clinics offer affordable contraceptives, yet they either don't use them or use them and still have large families. Often young people are steered away from FP services, or not told about them, and they wind up bearing children while they are still children themselves. The problem often stems not from a lack of supply, but rather from a lack of demand for FP services. Unless health care workers view large families as a problem, they may only offer service on demand, and they may not even use the services themselves. It is embarrassing enough to talk about sex when clients ask questions, so they would not discuss it unless clients ask.

Many FP advocates know that low demand is more of a problem than low supply, and that an effective FP program must include quality outreach services. Outreach services come in different forms to best fit the needs of the communities they serve. This report has documented several outreach programs that have proved effective in making people understand the benefits of using available FP services.

Click here - or on the headline above - to see the report "Barriers and Solutions to Family Planning Resistance". doclink

U.K.: MEPs (Members of European Parliment) Must Support Aid for Population Assistance

   April 28, 2014, Population Matters

Only by promoting smaller families can we avoid dramatic population increases in the poorest countries.

Population Matters chief executive Simon Ross commented, "To end aid dependency, we must tackle population growth in the poorest countries. We call on those standing in the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament to commit themselves, if elected, to supporting the maintenance and increase in aid for population assistance and family planning."

The biggest driver of the scale of future aid dependency, together with climate change, is population growth. The UN estimates that the population of Africa alone will rise from one billion in 2010 to more than four billion by 2100. This will put enormous pressure on resources of all kinds. Emerging services, from health and education to transport and housing, will struggle to cope. One could question whether there will be sufficient employment opportunities to meet demand, while the challenge of supporting this population can only divert the resources required for social and economic development. Such population growth will also be a contributor to increased migratory pressure on Europe's borders.

Yet the EU, while increasing spending on reproductive health and family planning, often as part of wider health system strengthening, still spends relatively little in this area. The European Parliament and Commission have designated 2015 the European Year for Development. The EU is the world's biggest multilateral donor and the third biggest donor after the US and UK, spending over nine billion euros per annum in bilateral aid. Of this, the EU spends around 90 million euros (1 per cent) on population assistance.

Of course, reproductive health is not just about lowering unsustainable birth rates. Reproductive health conditions are the leading cause of death and illness in women of reproductive age worldwide. For this reason, too, reproductive health has a claim to our attention and support.

There are those who oppose support for family planning on the basis that some of it might go to providing abortion services. However, the best way to lower the rate of abortion is to improve the provision of family planning, not to cut it. Countries in which abortion is illegal often have a higher termination rate than those in which abortion is permitted. A safe and legal abortion is much better than an unsafe and illegal one. Also, it is hardly appropriate for those in the EU, where abortion is generally available, to seek to limit access to abortion elsewhere.

We welcome the EU's verbal and financial commitment to reproductive health and family planning and call on those standing as MEPs to support that commitment and to improve on it if elected.


Reproductive health conditions - including HIV / AIDS - are the leading cause of death and illness in women of reproductive age worldwide, and the second leading cause of death and illness when both men and women are taken into account.

More than 60 per cent of couples in less-developed countries used family planning services in 2006. Only 10 per cent did in 1960.

In 2010, 215 million women wished to avoid or postpone pregnancy but were not using modern contraceptives.

An estimated 250 million years of productive life are lost every year worldwide as a result of reproductive health problems. The poor disproportionately bear the consequences of poor reproductive health -- especially impoverished women and young people. doclink

Worth the Wait: President's Fy 2015 Budget Request for Family Planning and Reproductive Health

   April 21, 2014, Population Action International

Six weeks after posting its general initial budget, the Obama Administration released the details of its FY-2015 request for international family planning (FP) and reproductive health (RH) programs. Its call for $644.3 million is $34.3 million -- nearly 6% -- higher than the current appropriated level enacted in January. It allocates $538 million to the Global Health Programs account, $71 million to Economic Support Funds, and $35.3 million as the U.S. contribution to the UN's Population Fund. At a time of increasing budgetary pressures, these requested increases suggest strong administration support for FP/RH programs.

Nevertheless, this proposal remains lower than the $669.5 million the Senate Appropriations Committee approved in FY 2014-a level of funding endorsed by 124 House members and 24 Senators in letters to their respective Appropriations Committee colleagues earlier this month. It also falls far short of the $1 billion that is the U.S. fair share of total global expenditures required to address the unmet need of 222 million women in the developing world who want FP services where they are not yet available.

Of course, now that Congress has received the budget request, it still must decide over the next several months whether to grant the requested amounts or continue underfunding these urgent projects at current levels. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 8 billion is needed. $4 billion has already been supplied. That leaves $3.4 billion to meet the unmet need of 222 million women for access to -- and accurate information about -- affordable effective contraception.

What Will $1 Billion Buy?

   November 13, 2013   By: Bonnie Tillery, Population Issues Coordinator. New Jersey Sierra Club

What will $1 billion buy? This is the question the Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program and other health, environmental and population organizations are asking. The United Nations Population Fund informs us that 222 million women in the developing world would like to voluntarily plan their families, spacing births so that both mother and child are healthy, and so that families are able to educate their children. This also puts fewer demands on scarce resources.

They go on to explain that "2 billion people live in countries without adequate water...and by 2025 the number will grow to 3.1 billion. There are 925 million chronically malnourished people in the world...A 40% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world could be completely negated by population growth in the developing world. Empowering women with the tools and resources to time their pregnancies would provide 8-15% of the reductions needed to avert (more drastic) climate change."

Why should the U.S. contribute $1 billion for international family planning? According to Population Action International's web site, we have supported family planning and reproductive health care programs since 1965. "Polls have consistently shown that 75 to 90 percent of Americans support international family planning programs, including 69 percent of Independents and Republicans...While the demand has consistently increased, the U.S. funding level for family planning in 2010 (was) nearly 25 percent less 1995 (when adjusted for inflation)."

How is that $1 billion U.S. contribution figured? Brian Dixon from Population Connection explained, "it's derived by taking the total overall donor funding necessary to meet the existing unmet need (for family planning and reproductive health care) and then apportioning that by the GDP of the donor countries."

One-billion dollars sounds like an awful lot of money. But consider this, in 2012, here in the U.S. we spent $8 billion on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations. This year it was down to $6.9 billion, or $75.03 per person.(1) By comparison, $1 billion averages to about $3 per person per year, or one-cent per day.(2) For Valentine's Day 2013, reported we spent $18.6 billion, or $130.97 per person on flowers, candy, etc. That makes the $1 billion request for international family planning seem like so little to make such a big difference.

Shouldn't we be focusing on needs here at home? Yes, but Dixon goes on to note "total foreign assistance funding is less than one percent of the federal budget and family planning is a very small part of that."

Focusing on need here at home, the Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance companies provide all forms of female contraception without a co-pay as part of preventive-care. This should bring down the incidence of unplanned pregnancy dramatically as was shown in a 2007 study at Washington University in St. Louis. There researchers "provided 10,000 St. Louis women with free contraception, with the goal of decreasing unintended pregnancy...Few women ended up choosing the pill. Most went with a long-acting contraceptive method, like an IUD or an implant and the results were striking. Women who opted for a shorter-term contraceptive like the pill were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy."(3) Currently about one-half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned - the largest number in the developed world. By eliminating dependence on the birth control pill, which is not as effective as other long-term contraceptives, the incidence of unplanned pregnancies should be greatly reduced.

Can the U.S. afford to spend $1 billion on international family planning and reproductive health services? The author, Alan Weisman, in his latest book, Countdown, notes that we can't afford not to spend this money. "I don't want to cull anyone alive today. I wish every human now on the planet a long, healthy life. But either we take control ourselves, and humanely bring our numbers down by recruiting fewer new members of the human race to take our places, or nature is going to hand out a pile of pink slips. When you see survival of the fittest portrayed on the National Geographic Channel, it's entertaining. When it happens to your own species, it's not pretty."(4)

Talk with your family, friends, and representatives in Washington, DC about voluntary family planning and the need for $1 billion for international family planning assistance. When we can afford to spend $10 billion a year on romance novels (5), we can certainly afford $1 billion for women to voluntarily decide their family size.

(1) National Retail Federation web site 9/23/2013.
(3) "Popping the Pill's Bubble," The American Prospect, Oct 23, 2013.
(4) Weisman, Alan, Countdown, p. 431.
(5) "Deseret News," Salt Lake City, 2/7/2013 doclink

The Budget Myth That Just Won't Die: Americans Still Think 28 Percent of the Budget Goes to Foreign Aid

   November 7, 2013, Washington Post   By: Ezra Klein

Follow the link in the headline for graphic information.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, sixty nine percent of Americans believe the U.S. spends between 6% and 51% of its budget on foreign aid (average guesstimate 28%), and 61% believe that the amount they think we give is too much. However, if you show the actual figures (i.e., The U.S. spends less than 1% on foreign aid) and ask if that amount is too much, only 30% say yes. "Foreign aid is the only program that (people) consistently favor cutting," said Bruce Bartlett, and he credits most of foreign aid's unpopularity to the public "grossly overestimating its share of the budget." He can show multiple polls that show the public's wildly incorrect opinions about how much our government spends on helping other countries. If our government actually did spent what people think it spends on foreign aid, the cost would exceed that of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or all defense spending.

Ezra Klein's brief article on the Washington Post's WONKBLOG drew numerous blog responses, some of which complained about how nations become eligible for aid and how that aid is spent. That breakdown too might come as a surprise to many people.

The February 8, 2013 U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (Greenbook), "Program and Account Reports" breaks down U.S. aid expenditures like this: Our total aid budget is $49.5 billion, with $17.8 billion going to military assistance and $31.7 billion going to economic assistance ($14.1 billion of which is distributed by USAID). The largest military aid recipients are Afghanistan with $10,265,400, Israel with $2,995,100, and Egypt with $1,298,700. Iraq, Pakistan, Haiti, Kenya and Jordan receive the largest Economic Assistance grants.

U.S.-based contractors received 59% of USAID's $14.5 billion in foreign assistance spending in the FY 2012, and 26% went to other institutions, including universities and vocational schools. With military aid exact numbers are harder to find, but much of the aid money goes to U.S. defense contractors to pay for weapons systems, which are then sent to places like Egypt and Israel. This raises the question whether Congressmen favor the aid more to support contracts in their district or as a way of supporting military allies -- or, in the case of Egypt and Israel, as a reward for signing the Oslo Peace accords, which triggered the U.S. to grant generous amounts of aid to both nations.

U.S. citizens give larger sums privately than their government gives to international aid. Also, people working in the U.S often send sizable checks to assist their families living in poorer nations. And, finally, not all foreign aid gets budgeted as foreign aid. As I write this, U.S. military vessels are moving as quickly as they can towards the Philippine Islands to do what they can to assist the victims of typhoon Haiyan. doclink

The GOP Should Rekindle a Romance with Birth Control

There are solid conservative arguments for supporting family planning
   October 9, 2013, US News & World Report   By: John Seager, President of Population Connection

In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed legislation that created the Title X family planning program and noted that, "this landmark legislation on family planning and population has had strong bipartisan support."

On the other hand House Republicans recently tried to strip birth control coverage from the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare." They argue that contraception has caused the downfall of the culture by allowing people to have sex without having children. It violates their religious rights. It's led women to be promiscuous and men to be gay. It's even contributing to the terrible dearth of babies some writers see lurking just around the corner, even though we are expected to grow to 9.6 by 2050.

Contraception has helped give women new opportunities and traditionalists heartburn. However:

Family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments the United States can make in developing countries. If we are able to meet the Millennium Development Goals, - including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger - there will be less need for foreign aid spending.

Thailand and the Philippines had two similar economies in the 1970s. But Thailand began a national program to provide its citizens with voluntary access to contraception, while the Philippines passed a law to finally do that late last year, now on hold by the nation's very conservative Supreme Court. By 2010, Thailand had 68.1 million citizens, while the Philippines had 93.6 million.

In 2008, Thailand's GDP was $273 billion, while the Philippines' was $167 billion. Per capita, Thailand's GDP was $4,043, while Filipinos settled for $1,847.

Birth Control Stabilizes Nations. Very young populations - characteristic of nations with high birthrates - can be very unstable because the competition for jobs among young people is fierce, and unemployment is epidemic. When you're hungry and desperate, turning to crime - or even terrorism - might feel like your only option.

Birth Control Reduces Human Suffering. By allowing women to time and space their pregnancies, family planning could prevent up to one in three maternal deaths in the developing world. And spacing pregnancies adequately also reduces infant mortality and improves the health of children. And access to family planning also prevents abortions. More than half of all abortions in the developing world are unsafe, which killed around 47,000 women in 2008.

An estimated 222 million women around the world who want to delay or end childbearing don't have access to contraception. This number will grow as today's young people. We're spending 30 percent less in inflation-adjusted dollars on international family planning now than we did in 1995. When a single investment can save money, boost economies, stabilize nations and reduce human suffering, thoughtful people of all political persuasions should give it a second look. doclink

Development Aid Falls Short, While Other Financial Flows Show Rising Volatility

   September 12, 2013, World Watch Institute

Preliminary data indicate that official development assistance (ODA) totaled $128.4 billion (in 2011 dollars) that year, down 4 percent from 2011's $133.7 billion. The 2012 figure marks a 6 percent decline from 2010, when global ODA peaked at $136.7 billion, write Worldwatch staff in the latest Vital Signs Online trend.

Click on the link in the headline to read the report doclink

Karen Gaia says: probably due to the recession, and, alas, we may never recover due to a declining energy supply.

House Subcommittee Votes to Slash International Family Planning for FY2014

   July 19, 2013, Population Institute

On July 19, the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved a slight funding increase for global health programs. But it capped appropriations for international family planning and reproductive health programs at $461 million, 22% below current levels and $174 million below the President's request. The cutback was approved as part of a larger appropriation measure funding the U.S. State Department and U.S. foreign assistance programs, which the Subcommittee cut 19% below current levels. The House bill also prohibited any U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The Subcommittee's action is the first step in the annual appropriations process for the 2014 fiscal year. The final appropriation bill must be approved by both houses. The committee-approved Senate bill calls for total bilateral and multilateral funding of $669.5 million, including $39.5 million for a U.S. contribution to UNFPA. The proposed Senate funding level is $209 million-or 31% higher-than the comparable amount in the House bill and nearly 15% above current levels.

The Senate also adapted by 19 to 11 an amendment by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, which the President had earlier issued a statement reversing. This Reagan-era rule forbade U.S. government support for any organization that in any way fostered, provided or even advised women about abortion. All Democrats and three Republicans on the committee supported Shaheen's amendment. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Was international reproductive health and family planning part of the government shutdown? I can find no news on this item since July.

International Family Planning Funding Request to the Congressional Committee on Appropriations

   April 22, 2013, Population Connection

Dear Chairwoman Granger and Ranking Member Lowey:

We write to urge your support for international family planning and reproductive health programs in the FY 2014 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill. We respectfully request that international family planning and reproductive health programs be funded at least at the President's Budget request of $635.4 million, including $37 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

We believe this would be an important step toward investing $1 billion annually in family planning and reproductive health in developing countries. This level of funding would meet the U.S. share of the global need for these critical programs, which are cost-effective, save lives and support broader diplomatic, development and national security priorities. In addition, any increased investments in international family planning and reproductive health will help rectify the disproportionate cuts this program has faced in the last several years in addition to the impact of sequestration. Based on an analysis of the powerful impact of U.S. investment in family planning and reproductive health overseas by the Guttmacher Institute, the effects of the sequester could mean:

* 1.6 million women denied access to contraceptive services and supplies

* 460,000 additional unintended pregnancies

* 215,000 additional unplanned births

* 215,000 additional abortions (of which 153,000 are unsafe)

* 1,225 maternal deaths

* 6,140 more children will lose their mothers

Our nation's investment in international family planning has had a significant sustained impact. U.S. assistance in FY 2012 helped prevent 9.4 million unintended pregnancies, 4 million abortions, 96,000 children from losing their mothers and 22,000 women from dying. These investments are also highly cost-effective. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has found that in Zambia, for example, one dollar invested in family planning saves four dollars in other development areas.

Despite this investment, every year 291,000 women die from largely preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Today, at least 222 million women in the developing world would like to prevent or delay pregnancy but lack access to safe, effective contraception; this demand is projected to increase by 40% over the next 15 years. For the health of women around the world, we firmly support international family planning programs and urge you to provide this level of funding in the FY 2014 Appropriations Bill.

Signed by 96 members of Congress doclink

Senate Briefing Stresses Family Planning as Development "Best Buy"

   April 17, 2013, Population Action International

Anna has five children, and wants to plan her family, but her mother-in-law, said she didn't have enough children.

Victoria Marijani, the Program Manager for Reproductive Health Services at PSI Tanzania said "There are lots of Annas who have barriers and cannot access services."

Population Action International was represented by President Suzanne Ehlers at a Senate briefing which included Marijani as well as Ellen Starbird, the new Director of Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID; and Harvard economist David Canning, who co-authored the Lancet article "The Economic Consequences of Reproductive Health and Family Planning." The focus was providing women everywhere with the family planning services they want, and the potential impact that can have.

"Development is a best buy," Ehlers said. "Let's not forget it, and let's...get that message in front of those who, for whatever reason, haven't heard it for the past 30 years. Emphasis on family planning, and women's sexual and reproductive health, is completely a multiplier investment for nations." doclink

Stop the Sequester. It's a Terrible Way to Govern and it Will Do Real Harm to People - Especially Women - at Home and Around the World.

   March 12, 2013, Population Connection

Our aid to international family planning programs is facing devastating cuts due to the sequester. A 5.3% cut to our international family planning programs would mean:

*1.68 million women denied access to contraceptive services & supplies,

*485,000 additional unintended pregnancies,

*226,000 additional abortions (of which 162,000 will be unsafe),

*1,292 maternal deaths, and

*6,460 children losing their mothers.

Instead of this kind of mindless slashing of funds, we need to increase our investment in family planning programs overseas. It will bring huge returns in terms of improved global health, expanded economic empowerment of women, increased educational opportunities for girls, protection of resources and greater political stability.

Please act quickly to stop the disastrous cuts the sequester will bring. doclink

Foreign Assistance Funding in 2013

   December 20, 2012

The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a bipartisan International Affairs Budget, nearly unanimously, that provides critical funding for foreign assistance in key areas. By contrast, the House is considering a spending plan that calls for significantly less funding for the International Affairs Budget, particularly for poverty-focused programs. InterAction and our members are urging Members of Congress to support the Senate funding levels in all budget negotiations. The difference in spending will quite literally mean the difference between lives saved or lives lost. Contact your elected officials and tell others to do the same. What Senate-level funding for the International Affairs Budget would mean

Program Area Senate Level House Level The Difference (in Real Terms)
Food for Peace $1.466 billion $1.15 billion Approximately 9 million more people receive food assistance, and less need for future emergency assistance by helping families improve farming techniques and build self-reliance
Nutrition $122 million $95 million An additional 3.37 million children and their mothers are supported in their fight against malnutrition
Malaria $670 million $650 million More than 5 million people receive bed nets
Family Planning & Reproductive Health $700 million $461 million 12.428 million more women and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies, 3.585 million fewer unintended pregnancies, 1.673 million fewer abortions, and 9,560 fewer maternal deaths
Maternal & Child Health $679 million $605 million More than 6.9 million more child immunizations are administered for tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis
Water & Sanitation $400 million $315 million Sustainable water and sanitation services are available for an additional 850,000 people
International Disaster Assistance $1.25 billion $923 million Greater support is given to victims of conflict in Syria, Darfur and South Sudan, and women and children facing starvation in Somalia and the Sahel; more resources are put toward preventing and mitigating new emergencies
Migration & Refugee Assistance $2.3 billion $1.683 billion Further support is provided for Syrian refugees and Somalis taking refuge in Kenya's Dadaab camp without adequate housing, water, sanitation and education; more schooling is available for the 25 percent of refugee children with no access to primary education and the more than 60 percent without access to secondary school

Links Between Climate Change and Population Growth

   November 28, 2012, Population Connection   By: John Seager

For super storms like Sandy, giant floodgates might be part of a long-term solution, but we need to find others that address the looming consequences of climate change, and recognize that family planning is part of the mix.

According to the NOAA last year the U.S. suffered a record 14 weather events, each costing at least $1 billion in damage. And every year, more than 80 million people join our human family. That's like adding another New Jersey every six weeks.

Since 1800, world population has grown sevenfold, while per capita CO2 emissions have increased 150 times. This multiplies out to about 1,100 times as much emissions.

Residents of the African nation of Chad have about six children each, yet their annual per capita carbon emissions are less than 1% of those of the average American. It would be unfair to blame climate change on people in less developed nations, but if each of us living in a highly developed country reduced our carbon footprint by 40% over 40 years, all of that would be cancelled by our present population growth rates alone.

And that doesn't even take into account the fact that emissions will rise dramatically if and when billions of people are able to escape from poverty.

In the poorest places on earth most people live on less than $2 a day and lack access to clean water and basic sanitation, but many of these would like to have central air conditioning, cars, and air travel to other continents. All of these luxuries will increase per capita emissions.

We must cut our own emissions even as emissions of the poorest people increase to a level that yields a decent quality of life. To insure that the reduction of emissions in the developed countries is not cancelled by increases from the developing world, we must slow the growth rate of our human family.

Over 222 million women in developing nations do not want another child right away or not at all, yet they are unable to prevent pregnancy because of a host of obstacles, such as lack of information about modern contraception and cost, or misinformation about side effects of birth control methods, including the false notion that they lead to sterility. In many societies, women - especially young brides - have no power over their own lives because their husbands, clerics or mothers-in-law make their decisions for them. Women who do not procreate may suffer violent consequences.

If each American were to invest one additional dollar per year in awareness-raising and education campaigns, we could help break down these barriers in partnership with other nations. This would amount to one billion dollars per year. doclink

Additional Investments in Family Planning Would Save Developing Countries More Than $11 Billion a Year

   November 14, 2012, UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund

Last summer, at the London Summit on Family Planning, donor countries and foundations together pledged $2.6 billion to make family planning available to 120 million women in developing countries with unmet needs by 2020. Developing countries themselves also pledged to increase support. But a report, The State of World Population 2012, recently published by the UNFPA says that an additional $4.1 billion in funding is needed each year to address current needs and those of the growing youth population, and that making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by $11.3 billion annually.

One third of the growth of Asian "tiger" economies is attributed to a demographic shift in which the number of income-generating adults was higher than those who depended on them for support. This shift was a consequence of family planning and brought increased productivity, leading to economic development in the region.

In one example, it was predicted that if the fertility rate fell by just one child per woman in Nigeria in the next 20 years, the country's economy would grow by at least $30 billion. On the other hand, the costs of ignoring the right to family planning include poverty, exclusion, poor health and gender inequality. In the US, the report showed that teenage motherhood reduces a girl's chances of obtaining a high school diploma by up to 10%.

By enabling individuals to choose the number and spacing of their children, family planning has allowed women, and their children, to live healthier, longer lives. If an additional 120 million obtained access to family planning, the report estimates 3 million fewer babies would die in their first year of life.

UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said "Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women's increased labour-force participation boosts nations' economies."

The report says that governments and communities have the responsibility to protect the right to family planning for women across the spectrum, including those who are young or unmarried.

While financial resources for family planning have declined, contraceptive prevalence has increased globally by only 0.1% per year over the last few years.

In addition to asking for funding, the report also calls on governments and leaders to:

*Take or reinforce a rights-based approach to family planning

*Secure an emphasis on family planning in the global sustainable development agenda that will follow the Millennium Development Goals in 2015

*Ensure equality by focusing on specific excluded groups

Dr. Osotimehin said: "The pledge we made in July in London to increase access to family planning will improve the lives of millions and will each year help avert 200,000 maternal deaths. As we approach the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, I call on all leaders to build on this momentum, close the funding gap, and make voluntary family planning a development priority." doclink

The Gamble on Global Women's Rights - the 2012 U.S. Elections

   October 25, 2012,   By: Suzanne York

Suzanne York of comments on an editorial which claims that a Mitt Romney administration would harm women's reproductive rights both domestically and internationally. Not only will Americans lose access to free contraceptives under Obamacare's mandate to provide birth control without a co-pay. Many women and their families in developing countries will suffer.

Scroll several articles down from here and you will find an article from the Huffington Post, "Global Gag Rule's Return Would Threaten Women Worldwide".

York says: "Apparently Mr. Romney doesn't care that 222 million women in developing countries want access to family planning services but do not have that access, and doesn't understand that helping them is both critical to helping them... and helping provide a better future for all of us on the planet."

She tells us of the high-level London Summit on Family Planning in July where donors pledged to provide $2.6 billion over the next eight years to help the world's 120 million poorest women gain access to voluntary family planning information, services and supplies by 2020. More than 20 developing countries made commitments to increase spending on family planning.

The U.S. supplied $610 in 2012 toward international family planning and reproductive health programs, which, according to the Guttmacher Institute, makes it possible for: 31.6 million women and couples to receive contraceptive services and supplies; 9.4 million unintended pregnancies and 4.1 million unplanned births to be averted; 4 million induced abortions to be averted (3 million of them unsafe); 22,000 maternal deaths to be averted; and 96,000 fewer children to lose their mothers.

$35 million of the U.S. money went to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), whose mission is to"reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect."

Romney and other conservatives want to cut off U.S. funding for the UNFPA.

UNFPA's programs include health care for women refugees, where one in five women are likely to be pregnant. Female refugees are often exposed to trauma, malnutrition, disease and violence. They desperately need maternal health services and proper clinics for childbirth. Another program educates married men on reproductive health in order to improve access to maternal and newborn health services. Well-respected men in the community are brought together to discuss concerns centered on reproductive health. 137 such schools have been established in southern Niger.

Romney as president would likely cut U.S. foreign assistance, which at present comprises only about 1% of the U.S. federal budget, and more likely he will especially cut aid to international family planning and reproductive health programs. doclink

PEPFAR Takes Contraception Off the Table

   October 16, 2012, Population Action International

The Fiscal Year 2013 Country Operational Plan (COP) Guidance states in no uncertain terms that "PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities". PEPFAR is the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR will continue to pay for male and female condoms, even though condoms prevent both HIV and unintended pregnancies.

The 2008 law contains no prohibition on the use of PEPFAR funds for contraceptive commodities; in fact it is totally silent on the integration of HIV/AIDS and family planning/reproductive health services.

Instead of reflecting the best public health practices of the day, it reflects the worst politics of the day. Standing on the side of science, good public health, and women is the right thing to do. If we don't, we undermine our ability to achieve an AIDS-free generation and our credibility as a leader on HIV/AIDS and global health.

When Secretary Clinton provided this vision at July's International AIDS Conference, she said "Every woman should be able to decide when and whether to have children. This is true whether she is HIV-positive or not."

Allowing country teams and program experts to decide to use PEPFAR funds for contraception based on the nature of their country's epidemic and funding landscape for HIV/AIDS and FP/RH is consistent with the goal of delivering health care services that are integrated, country-driven, and centered on women, girls and gender equality.

World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines identify contraception as one of four essential components of programs that prevent mother-to-child transmission ( PMTCT), known as "prong 2" -preventing unintended pregnancies among HIV-positive women. The U.S.-supported Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive (Global Plan) also includes contraception as part of the comprehensive package of HIV prevention and treatment interventions and services. It also reinforces the centrality of "prong 2" and sets the ambitious goal of reducing unmet need for family planning to zero by 2015.

As cited in PEPFAR's Technical Considerations, of the 22 high burden countries targeted in the Global Plan, rates of unmet need for family planning vary between 13% and 38%. Of the 26 countries receiving FY2011 PEPFAR PMTCT funding, 11 reported contraceptive stock-outs of various methods that year (Kenya, DRC, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Dominican Republic).

If PEPFAR continues to refuse to allow PEPFAR funds to be used to pay for contraceptive commodities where needed to advance HIV prevention and PMTCT goals, then U.S. funding for family planning and reproductive health programs must be significantly increased. Current funding ($610 million annually), falls far short of what it is needed to address the needs of the 222 million women in the developing world who want to avoid a pregnancy but are not using an effective method of contraception. U.S. advocates have been calling for at least $1 billion annually. doclink

What Supporting the Global Gag Rule Theory and Practice

   October 10, 2012, Columbus Dispatch   By: Mark Leon Goldberg

While presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has said he opposes abortion, except in instances of rape, incest and when the mother's life is threatened, he recently said no abortion legislation is part of his agenda, but by executive order, not by legislation, he would reinstate the so-called Mexico City policy (aka Global Gag rule) that bans U.S. foreign aid dollars from being used to do abortions, he said.

In 1984 the Reagan administration officials - under pressure from its antiabortion and increasingly overt anti-family planning constituency - prepared a position paper for the U.N. international conference on population in Mexico City. The position went far beyond the 1973 Helms amendment, which had passed in 1973 - in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade - to ban the use of U.S. funds under the Foreign Assistance Act from paying "for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning." This policy was one they could impose without the involvement of Congress.

The Mexico City policy disqualified foreign NGOs from eligibility for U.S. family planning assistance if they used non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services or information in the form of counseling or referrals, or to engage in advocacy within their own countries to liberalize abortion-related laws or policies.

An example of the effect this policy has had on women is Josephine, who at 29, was raped during the Congo's conflicts, became pregnant. She wanted an abortion, but didn't know where to get one, despite the many health services NGOs that operated in and around Congo, and had to carry her baby to term and raise him. "Today, the only thing that I can think about is that I want an abortion. I am hungry; I have no clothes and no soap. I don't have any money to pay for medical care. It would be better if I died with the baby in my womb," she told Amnesty International.

Thousands of girls and women raped and impregnated in armed conflict are routinely denied abortions with devastating consequences. An estimated 5% of rapes lead to pregnancy, which suggests that the 1.8 million women and girls raped during the Congo's crisis may have led to as many as 90,000 unwanted pregnancies.

President Barack Obama dropped the Mexico City policy on his tenth day in office. doclink

UK Parliamentarians Call Attention to World Contraception Day

   September 25, 2012, UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health

World Contraception Day is tomorrow, 26th September 2012 and on this occasion UK Parliamentarians call attention to the 222 million women who lack access to basic family planning services in the developing world. The unmet need for contraception in the developing world is increasing due to population growth.

Baroness Jenny Tonge said: "Increasing access to contraceptive services will help women delay, space or stop childbearing. It will reduce unintended pregnancies, help women and couples attain their desired family size and prevent many deaths and disabilities related to pregnancy."

Millennium Development Goal 5, to improve maternal health, remains the hardest to reach. 358,000 women still die each year in pregnancy and childbirth. Most women die because they have no access to skilled routine and emergency care, or they lack contraceptive services which in itself can prevent 30% of maternal deaths.

£1 spent on family planning saves at least £4 which would otherwise be spent treating complications arising from unintended pregnancies.

Investing in contraception benefits women, families and society, ranging from increased education for women and better child health to greater family savings, lower rates of population growth and stronger national economies.

Contraceptive care in 2012 cost $4.0 billion in the developing world. To fully meet the existing need for modern contraceptive methods of all women in the developing world would cost $8.1 billion per year.

Baroness Tonge chairs a cross-party group of parliamentarians who have been lobbying for equal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare in the developing world for over 20 years. She added that, "allowing people in developing countries to choose when, where and how to have children is a fundamental right. It is crucial to the health and economic development of the world's poorer nations and underpins women's empowerment across the globe."

Other items of interest from Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA - "Adding It Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services, Estimates for 2012"

*In 2012, an estimated 645 million women in the developing world were using modern methods- 42 million more than in 2008. About half of this increase was due to population growth.

*The proportion of married women using modern contraceptives in the developing world as a whole barely changed between 2008 (56%) and 2012 (57%). Larger-than-average increases were seen in Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia, but there was no increase in Western Africa and Middle Africa.

*Current contraceptive use will prevent 218 million unintended pregnancies in developing countries in 2012, and, in turn, will avert 55 million unplanned births, 138 million abortions (of which 40 million are unsafe), 25 million miscarriages and 118,000 maternal deaths.

*Serving all women in developing countries who currently have an unmet need for modern methods would prevent an additional 54 million unintended pregnancies, including 21 million unplanned births, 26 million abortions (of which 16 million would be unsafe) and seven million miscarriages; this would also prevent 79,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant deaths.

*Special attention is needed to ensure that the contraceptive needs of vulnerable groups such as unmarried young women, poor women and rural women are met and that inequities in knowledge and access are reduced. doclink

Global Gag Rule's Return Would Threaten Women Worldwide

   September 19, 2012, Huffington Post   By: John Seager

Mitt Romney confirmed, at his appearance on Meet the Press, that he will back the Global Gag Rule.

When President Ronald Reagan introduced the policy in 1984, it was known as the Mexico City Policy - which says the United States can provide no assistance to foreign non-governmental organizations that even discuss abortion or provide referrals for their clients. . Ever since it has negatively affected women every time it's reinstated. President Clinton overturned the Gag Rule, and President George W. Bush reinstated it. President Barack Obama overturned it again in one of his first presidential actions.

When the Global Gag Rule is in effect, organizations that receive foreign aid from the United States are forced to choose: They can accept funding but censor the programs they've developed to serve their populations. Or they can refuse to comply and lose funding, at the risk of going bankrupt and being forced to shutter their doors.

Under President George W. Bush, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) chose the second option. IPPF lost more than $100 million in funding over an eight-year period. In Kenya alone, three clinics were forced to close, leaving 56,000 clients out in the cold.

In either case, it's the world's most vulnerable women who suffer. For some women overseas it's a matter of life and death.

Meanwhile, 20 developing nations saw shipments of U.S.-donated contraceptives end - contraceptives that don't just protect against unwanted pregnancy. Family planning protects natural resources, reduces maternal and child mortality and allows women to pursue education and careers.

Under the Global Gag Rule, organizations are not even allowed to discuss the dangers of unsafe abortion with their clients.

While the Global Gag Rule has been called "pro-life," it's anything but, leading to more unintended pregnancies, more unplanned births, higher maternal mortality, worse outcomes for infants and children and more deaths due to unsafe abortion and inadequate resources. doclink

New Report: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa

   August 5, 2012, RH Reality Check

Political Research Associates have released a report, Colonizing African Values: How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, which documents the U.S. Christian Right's attempts to push an ideology hostile to reproductive and LGBT rights on sub-Saharan African countries.

For example, in Tanzania in 2008, billboards depicted a "Faithful Condom User" as a skeleton in a blatant attempt to discourage condom use as an effective HIV prevention method. The billboard's sponsor was Human Life International (HLI), a Roman Catholic organization group based in the United States.

HLI is staunchly opposed to contraception, abortion, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, sex education, and homosexuality. Another U.S. Christian Right group peddling corrosive reproductive politics in Africa is Family Watch International, a small Arizona-based group, which condemns the United Nations' efforts to support family planning services and reproductive health options for women. One of the groups claims is that vaccine distribution is really a secret sterilization program designed to destroy the African family.

Abortion is already illegal in most African countries, bans first passed decades ago under colonial governments, and even where there are some exceptions the complications of the law often drive women to obtain illegal and dangerous procedures, such as "drinking surf (washing powder), using wires, and poisonous herbs.

Groups like Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, led by Jay Sekulow (a Romney campaign favorite) and HLI are pushing for even stricter laws and constitutional bans. However, when it comes to enforcement, both police and individuals seem to shy away from invading the "personal" decisions of women who seek abortions, even when they disapprove of the procedure.

You can view the executive summary of this report at ##

The full report is also available here (PDF): ## doclink

Opinion: Funding for International Family Planning

   June 14, 2012, Committee for a Sustainable World Population (CSWP)

Population Action International believes the U.S. should lead international efforts to meet the demand for family planning by appropriating $1 billion annually, which is the U.S. fair share of the $6.7 billion investment needed to meet international family planning goals, and would accelerate progress on the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.

Americans spent nearly $51 billion on pets in 2011, and 8 billion on cosmetics and another 17 billion dollars on cosmetic procedures like botox in 2010 despite a deep recession.

Defense spending is budgeted at $680 billion in 2010. Hence in one day the Pentagon spends nearly $2 billion which would fund a lot of annual family planning and motivational soap operas.

Those who object to funding international family planning must think it is much better to let them breed poverty, misery and terrorism and then kill them with drones apparently. doclink

President's Budget Request Restores International Family Planning Funding

   February 14, 2012, Population Action International

President Obama's fiscal year 2013 budget request for international family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) proposes a very welcomed restoration of funding. This will help recover some of the millions of dollars cut by congressional contraceptive critics over the last two years as part of the globalization of their war on women.

The Obama administration is proposing $642.7 million for bilateral and multilateral international FP assistance-a $32.7 million or a 5% increase above the $610 million that Congress appropriated for FY 2012, the current fiscal year.

The funding restoration is especially significant in light of the difficult economic and budgetary climate and the fact that other bilateral health sectors are slated for cuts below current enacted levels. However, note the harsh treatment that international FP/RH funding received in Congress over the last two years compared with other health sectors.

$603.7 million is for bilateral programs administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides family planning assistance in more than 50 countries.

$39 million is proposed for a U.S. contribution to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides critical FP/RH services in more than 150 countries - a $4 million increase. doclink

The US is Out of Sync on Contraception: Across Africa, Leaders Are Starting to Recognise That Birth Control Saves Lives. but the US Still Treats it as a Political Football

   January 10, 2012, Guardian

Imams in Senegal have become champions of birth control, calling it "Family spacing." "What's good for a woman is good for her family, and for her society. We want healthy societies," they say. In contrast, two weeks ago Barack Obama met with Roman Catholic leaders to discuss the feasibility of including religious and moral exemptions to birth control coverage in a new healthcare bill. This when 98% of sexually active Catholic women in the US currently use modern contraception.

At the International Conference on Family Planning in Dakur Senegal, thousands came to discuss birth control. Dozens of health and finance ministers from across the African continent gathered to extol the virtues of family planning and strategise better ways of delivering it to those in need. But in the US the Secretary of Health and Human services overruled the Food and Drug Administration's recommendation that emergency contraception be available to individuals under the age of 17 without a prescription.

Other countries get it: When people can choose whether or when to become pregnant, women are healthier, and their babies and children more likely to be fed, educated and healthy; the workforce is more robust; the government spends less on healthcare, studies show. And yet 215 million women around the world want, but lack, access to birth control.

In October, the US House of Representatives tried to cut $40m in funding from the United Nations Population Fund. Other plans to undermine reproductive health included gutting family planning programs in the US and reinstating the "global gag rule" to punish developing countries for addressing unsafe abortion.

The final US 2012 spending bill is $5m shy of last year's sum. This year, we must do better. "You get it right for girls and women - you get it right for development," said under-secretary of state Stephen O'Brien of the UK's department for international development (DFID) recently. Last month, DFID pledged £35m in new funds to UNFPA and a day later tacked on an additional £5m for female condoms.

Women in sub-Saharan Africa and south-east Asia, where the vast majority of maternal deaths and unmet need for birth control lies, are struggling with the burdens of preventing or spacing pregnancies, dodging HIV risks, chronic lack of health services taboos around sexuality. Obama's Global Health Initiative launched in 2009, gave a modest bump to US global family planning program, but more is needed.

By not prioritising birth control access within US borders or worldwide, the US is sending a message that contraceptive access is not important. Nothing could be farther from the truth. More and more developing country leaders are committed to improving women's lives, and access to birth control is the first stop. Progress is imminent, especially in Africa. doclink

Congress Rejects Large Cuts in International Family Planning Assistance

   December 20, 2011, Population Institute

Congress passed a version of the omnibus appropriations bill this week that froze bilateral international family planning assistance at $575 million (same as last year), thwarting House Republicans who wanted to cut it 25%. However the same bill cut funding for the United Nations Population Fund 25% from $40 million.

The amount fell short of the $1 billion funding level proposed by family planning advocates. Robert Walker, the President of the Population Institute, said, "There is still a large unmet need for family planning in the world. With the largest generation ever of young people entering their prime reproductive years, the U.S. should be boosting its support for both UNFPA and country-to-country assistance."

While acknowledging the tight budget constraints facing Congress, Walker said, "Lawmakers need to recognize that family planning is an exceptionally cost-effective program. Investments in family planning and reproductive health do more than pay for themselves. Measured in terms of improved health, reduced mortality, gender equality, educational attainment, and poverty reduction, family planning is one of the best investments we can make."

Supporters of family planning should send a note of thanks to their leading Congressional advocates including Representatives Nita Lowey and Carolyn Maloney in the House, and Senators Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg in the Senate. doclink

At 7 Billion, Contraception for Pollyanna

   November 14, 2011, William Ryerson, President of Population Media Center

Pollyanna thinking tells us that population issues are not in need of attention, that asking our planet to support 1.59 million more people every week is a reasonable request. After all, despite the fact that we went from 1.6 billion to over 6 billion and during the same period went through two world wars, we made exponential leaps in human longevity and living standards.

But in 1999 oil prices were predicted to be $28 per barrel by 2020 and today it is $94 per barrel; in 1999 food prices were predicted to stay near their historical lows through 2010 and then fall but today they are at all time highs and 1 billion are undernourished and can't afford to buy sufficient food, despite the fact that in 1998 the Director of Bread for the World, Richard Hoehn, declared hunger would be eliminated in 15 years.

However, leaders listen to the pollyannas and consequently funding for family planning information and services has been reduced significantly since the 1994 Cairo conference on population. Beyond morally failing the women of the world, this has caused unplanned and unwanted childbearing and a terrible toll on health.

Funding for family planning information and services needs to increase dramatically. Entertainment-education programs, like radio and televisions soap operas, are particularly powerful in modeling daughter education, child spacing, and family planning use to mass audiences.

One radio soap opera in Ethiopia was listened to by half the country resulting in a 113% increase in the number of Ethiopians who began to use family planning themselves. Not because they were forced to, but because they wanted to.

Unfounded fears of side effects, male opposition, religious intolerance, and traditions of large family size are the main reasons for non-use of contraception. doclink

Call Your Senator About An Upcoming Battle in the War on Women

   November 10, 2011, Population Institute

As early as today the Senate will be debating a "minibus" appropriations bill. It contains funding for the State Department and various foreign assistance programs, including international family planning and reproductive health.

The Senate Appropriations Committee version was a victory for women. 1) It increases the current funding level for international family planning assistance for the 2012 Fiscal Year to $700 million, including $40 million for the United Nations Population Fund. 2) It makes permanent an executive order issued by President Obama that repealed the "global gag rule".

Unfortunately, next week a number of amendments are expected that would most likely reduce the amount of money for international family planning and reproductive health, eliminate funding for the United Nations Population Fund, and block the language that would permanently repeal the global gag rule.

According to research from the Guttmacher Institute, for every $10 million cut from the international family planning and reproductive health program:

* 610,000 fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;

* 190,000 more unintended pregnancies, and 82,000 more unplanned births, would occur;

* 83,000 more abortions would take place (of which 60,000 would be unsafe);

* 500 more maternal deaths would occur;

* 2,300 more children would lose their mothers.

To help, call (202) 224-3121, tell the operator what state you are from, and ask to be connected to one or both of your U.S. Senators. Tell your Senators that you support full funding for international family planning and a permanent repeal of the "global gag rule." doclink

The Birth Control Solution; Contraceptives No More Cause Sex Than Umbrellas Cause Rain

   November 2, 2011, New York Times

by Nicholas D. Kristof

Many of the global problems that confront us have a solution. It's called family planning, but it is starved of resources due to America's religious wars, which are partly responsible for the world's population to reach seven billion so soon after reaching 6 billion 12 years ago.

It took humans hundreds of thousands of years to reach the first billion, in 1804. It took another 123 years to reach two billion, in 1927. Since then, we've been passing these milestones like billboards along a highway.

In 1999, the United Nations' best projection was that the world wouldn't pass seven billion until 2013, but we reached it two years early.

Youth bulges in rapidly growing countries like Afghanistan and Yemen makes them more prone to conflict and terrorism. Booming populations also contribute to global poverty and make it impossible to protect virgin forests or fend off climate change.

Family planning works. Women in India average 2.6 children, down from 6 in 1950. Mexico's average is 2.2, down from 7 in 1965.

But women in Afghanistan, Chad, Congo, Somalia, East Timor and Uganda all have six or more children each. There are women in rural Africa who have never heard of birth control. The Guttmacher Institute, a respected research group, estimate that 215 million women want to avoid getting pregnant but have no access to contraception.

It's not just contraception that's needed, but girls' education and women's rights - starting with an end to child marriages . Educated women tend to have fewer children.

The Population Institute came out with a report that said gender inequality has replaced lack of access to contraceptives as the biggest barrier to reducing birth rates.

We also need to find better contraceptives. A new breakthrough is an inexpensive vaginal ring that releases hormones, lasts a year and should not require a doctor. It could even contain medication to reduce the risk of an infection with the AIDS virus.

Republican presidents like Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush provided strong support for birth control, even though the Roman Catholic hierarchy was opposed, but then family planning became tarnished by overzealous and coercive programs in China and India, and contraception became entangled in America's abortion wars. Many well-meaning religious conservatives turned against it, and funding lagged. The result was, paradoxically, more abortions. When contraception is unavailable, the likely consequence is not less sex, but more pregnancy.

The U.N. says that contraception already prevents 112 million abortions a year, but the United Nations Population Fund is a bête noire for conservatives, even though, through contraception it may have reduced abortions more than any organization in the world.

Republicans want to cut more money from international family planning, resulting in more abortions and more women dying in childbirth. They also are trying to slash Title X Family Planning programs within the United States. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that in a year these domestic programs avert 973,000 unintended pregnancies, of which 406,000 would end in abortions. These programs also save taxpayers roughly $3.4 billion annually that would otherwise be spent on pregnancies and babies.

The good news is that a group of evangelical Christians, led by Richard Cizik of The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, is drafting a broad statement of support for family planning. It emphasizes that family planning reduces abortion and lives lost in childbirth. "Family planning is morally laudable in Christian terms because of its contribution to family well-being, women's health, and the prevention of abortion," it says.

As we greet the seven-billionth human, let's try to delay the arrival of the eight billionth. We should all be able to agree on voluntary family planning as a cost-effective strategy to reduce poverty, conflict and environmental damage. If you think family planning is expensive, you haven't priced babies. doclink

Karen Gaia says: How's this for an idea? Go to the link in the headline of this article, print the article, and send it to each of your lawmakers Today group of 122 House Democrats fought back today against what they called "a systematic and baseless campaign of misinformation" from House Republicans about UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
From Americans for UNFPA: In an open letter to President Obama, the group urged him to reaffirm U.S. support for the agency and for its programs supporting comprehensive reproductive health care in more than 150 countries worldwide. It gave a point-by-point rebuttal of charges against UNFPA that House Republicans made in an Oct. 7 letter to Obama, which the Democrats said "misrepresented and distorted a number of facts" about UNFPA.

Canada: Cash for Family Planning Group Approved; but Only Where Abortion is Illegal

   September 23, 2011, (Canada)

Five countries will receive new funding from Canada for International Planned Parenthood Federation for maternal and child health projects: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania, Canada's Conservative government confirmed.

Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, counselling and training for health providers through local organizations in developing countries, but tailored its request to provide services only in countries where abortion is already illegal, to conform to the Harper government's "no abortion overseas" criteria.

The announcement comes two days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced 28 new projects would receive funding through his government's G8 Muskoka Initiative, which pledged a total of $1.1 billion in new money over five years. doclink

Robinson: More Funds for Family Planning

   September 20, 2011,

Mary Robinson was the first woman president of Ireland (1990-1997), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002, and is now chairwoman of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, formed by current and former presidents, vice presidents and prime ministers of Brazil, Finland, Latvia, Liberia, Malawi, New Zealand and Norway.

Global reproductive rights activists are asking world leaders attending the United Nations in New York this week to deliver on promises made 17 years ago at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, when they agreed to make contraceptive services available for women all over the world by 2015.

World population will soon hit 7 billion, and more than 200 million women in the poorest nations of Africa and Asia are in need of the family planning services they would gladly use to delay or space their children, if modern contraceptives were available.

Mary Robinson fought her first political battle in the 1960s as a member of the Irish Senate, pushing for legislation to legalize family planning. Then not even married women could use the contraceptive pill, unless they had cycle regulation problems -- and many married women lied to their doctors saying they had such problems.

While Robinson thought it would be easy to draft a law legalizing contraception, it was a difficult battle, but contraception was finally legalized for married women by the Supreme Court in 1974.

Every year, more than 358,000 women die in the developing regions of the world from pregnancy-related causes. The failure to support the health needs of developing countries is now a global problem, one with long-term implications for the economic, environmental and political health of the entire world.

Women who have access to family planning have fewer children, and the ones they do have are healthier and better educated. Investments in reproductive health are reflected in lower carbon emissions and a reduced likelihood of civil unrest, as smaller families help lift communities out of poverty and reduce pressure on food security, scientists report.

In some countries, including the United States, reproductive health has become a hot-button political issue domestically, and it is often incorrectly associated with support for abortion.

The UN estimates that an additional $3.6 billion to extend family planning in the poorest nations would save lives -- and cut the costs associated with maternal and infant death by $5.1 billion. Although traditionally family planning services have been funded by donor countries, now the largest increases in money for these services come from developing nations, which have learned that this investment is cost-effective and can provide an immediate dividend in economic development and peace and stability.

We are fighting for the rights of millions of women who have no doctors and no tools with which to prevent unwanted pregnancies -- as many as 75 million of them every year. In those countries, it's a matter of life and death.

As we look down the road to sharing the world with 10 billion people -- projected to happen in 2100 -- it may someday be a matter of life and death for all of us. doclink

U.S.: Key Committee Slashes Foreign Aid, Warns Palestinians

   July 27, 2011, InterPress Service

The Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the House of Representatives cut bilateral economic and development assistance to most of the developing world by about 25%. The deep cuts were a result of fears of a new fiscal crisis sparked by a possible U.S. debt default. Eight billion dollars for non-military aid to Iraq and Afghanistan were relatively untouched.

The cuts also included U.S. contributions to multilateral agencies, including the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. and rejected proposed capital increases for international financial institutions (IFIs) that are providing support for developing countries still struggling with the fallout of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

The operating budgets for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) were cut by 35%. Obama's request for global health projects was cut 18% ($7 billion), his requested family-planning programs worldwide was cut 40%, and the highly contentious "Gag Rule" that bans U.S. aid to clinics or groups in developing countries that perform or even provide information about abortion services was reinstated.

Development assistance was cut 12%, and emergency refugee and migration assistance was cut 36%.

"These cuts will not only harm U.S. national interests, they will have a huge impact on the lives of those who are already marginalised in the poorest corners of the earth," said Samuel A. Worthington, president of InterAction, a coalition of nearly 200 U.S. development and humanitarian non-governmental organizations. "With the worst drought in 60 years hitting parts of the Horn of Africa, these cuts amount to the U.S. turning its back on its own strategic interests and walking away from long held international commitments."

The subcommittee's bill also imposed stringent conditions on future aid to Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Pakistan, and the Palestine Authority (PA) and further provided that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which represents the PA in foreign capitals, would be forced to shut down its office here if it pursued its efforts at the U.N. to gain recognition for a Palestinian state. The full 3.1 billion dollars in mostly military aid that the administration had requested for Israel in 2012 was approved.

The subcommittee's bill will almost certainly face substantial opposition in the Democratic-led Senate and eventually by a veto-wielding Obama later this year.

The wide and now-growing disparity between the civilian international affairs budget and the military has provoked complaints in the recent past not only from retired diplomats, but also from senior Pentagon officials. The latter include its former chief, Robert Gates who, already in 2008, warned of a "creeping militarisation" of U.S. foreign policy. "Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers," he said. doclink

Dispelling Myths: Population Growth - Problem Or Hype?

   May 27, 2011, UCL Institute for Global Health - Population Footprints

This video is 48 minutes long, but it is well worth waiting for the last speaker, Dr Eliya Zulu, who does an excellent job of dispeling some common misconceptions about population, mainly that the North is imposing population control upon the south. Dr Zulu is the Executive Director of the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) and President of the Union for African Population Studies, with over 20 years' experience in international development, population change, urbanization, health systems and policy analysis. doclink

Why Family Planning is Critical to Global Energy Strategy

   April 22, 2011, Huffington Post

Despite gains in efficiency by energy providers using nuclear, oil, or coal , energy demand is on the rise. Partly because people in developing countries are justifiably using more kilowatts of electricity and barrels of oil to raise their standard of living. But another reason is the increase of our global human numbers at the rate of 80 million people a year, the equivalent of ten New York cities. The UN says world population is projected to spike from the current 6.9 billion people to over 9 billion by 2044.

This increasing population growth will have a large impact on energy consumption and the resulting carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change. From 2004-2008, the International Energy Agency says, world population increased 5% while gross energy production increased 10%, with a comparable 10% jump in annual CO2 emissions.

We can save a lot by conservation of energy like insulating homes and buildings and improving appliance efficiency, getting another 4-12% out of every kilowatt, reports the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, but with a growing population, conservation won't be enough.

Robert Engelman of the environmentalist Worldwatch Institute noted: "The idea that we can trim our energy consumption to come into balance with nature looks increasingly naïve."

Relying on the same disaster-producing energy sources that led to the tragedies in the Gulf or Japan and carbon dioxide emissions which continue to raise earth's temperature is only going to lead to more disasters and more warming.

Only 4% of U.S. electricity comes from safe renewable sources like solar, wind and geothermal compared, while 45% comes from coal, 20% from nuclear power, 23% from natural gas and 7% from hydroelectric. And the percentage of vehicles running on biofuels too small to be measured.

Accelerating the development of clean energy and maximizing energy efficiency will not be enough if our population does not start declining.

Every country that offers easy access to contraceptive and safe abortion services also has a fertility rate of two children per woman or fewer, and more than two out of five pregnancies worldwide are unintended, notes Worldwatch's Engelman. This suggests that a world in which women everywhere were fully in control of their childbearing would soon reverse population growth.

But funding is insufficient and the U.S. is cutting its share of federal funding that keeps many family planning programs operating here in the U.S. as well as abroad. If conservative lawmakers succeed with all the proposed budget cuts, as many as 7 million women could lose access to contraception, reports Population Connection. Also threatened is domestic funding for Title X, the 40-year-old grant program that provides family planning and reproductive health services to American women and men at more than 4,500 health centers nationwide.

Energy demand and population growth go hand in hand. If the U.S. is serious about educing its energy needs, supporting family planning must be part of the strategy. doclink

Budget Cuts - it Could Have Been Worse

   April 12, 2011, Population Connection

The final budget plan is almost resolved. International and domestic family planning programs are being reduced. Global funding is being cut by $33 million to $615 million. The UN Population Fund will get $40 million. Domestic funding is being cut by $17 million to $300 million. No new restrictions are being imposed. The shortsightedness on this issue is distressing. doclink

The Reproductive Rights War Goes Global

   April 4, 2011, Mother Jones

Anti-abortion Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) other Republicans in Congress are pushing policies that are actually quite likely to increase the need for abortions. The GOP budget included a 32% cut in funding for international reproductive health and family planning programs. It would also stop US contributions to the UN Population Fund, which provides family planning supplies and services.

In contrast TV channels in Kenya recently showed images of men in Isiolo, in rural northern Kenya, washing condoms and hanging them out to dry; the men said the price of condoms meant they could not afford to use them just once. Other men in the village said when they had no access to condoms, they used polythene bags and even cloth rags when having sex.

This story shows that education campaigns are working, but sadly the means of practicing responsible sex is lacking, and will probably result in more abortions. doclink

U.S.: Anti-Abortion Plans Pose Dilemma for Republicans: Restrict Abortion or Cut Spending?

   March 6, 2011, Associated Press

The Republicans' "Pledge for America" says the new majority will do both, recently voting in the House 240-185 to block federal dollars from going to Planned Parenthood.

But the GOP has found that it must choose between them.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee's budget and spending task force hasn't decided how he would vote on a budget that cuts spending but lacks the promised abortion restrictions.

Last month the House passed its version of the budget that would cut spending by $61 billion and prohibit federal dollars from going to Planned Parenthood as long as the organization performs abortions. It also reinstates restrictions, lifted by President Barack Obama, on government money for any organization that funds abortions in foreign countries.

The Democrat-dominated Senate will almost certainly remove the abortion restrictions. It may be weeks before the budget is passed despite a March 18 deadline that carries with it the threat of a partial government shutdown. This budget will only go through September.

Slashing federal spending, is the GOP's No. 1 priority, with restricting federal money for abortion providers comes a close second or third. Repealing Obama's health care overhaul also is a GOP objective, but this failed in the Senate.

In addition the spending bill, before any amendments, reinstated a prohibition on federal money for any organization that uses its own funds for abortions performed in foreign countries. Obama lifted the restrictions in 2009.

Should a newly negotiated budget pass the Senate and come to the House without the anti-abortion provisions, social conservatives would be faced with a difficult choice: Vote against the new version and lose the spending cuts. Vote for it and lose the anti-abortion provisions.

Rep. Chris Smith, perhaps the House's most fervently anti-abortion member, said he'd vote against any budget that doesn't "preserve life." Blocking money for Planned Parenthood also cuts spending, he said.

Freshman Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., opposes abortion, but current law already bans federal dollars from being used for most abortions, so he would vote for a budget that did not cut funding to Planned Parenthood. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we definitely need to reign in federal spending. But cutting funds to Planned Parenthood is poor economics considering that averted births will result in savings. On the other hand we could save $12 billion a month by stopping the war.

The War on Women

   February 26, 2011, New York Times*

An assault on women's health and freedom is being mounted by Republicans in the House of Representatives. A budget bill that passed the House recently would deny millions of women access to affordable contraception and life-saving cancer screenings and cut nutritional support for millions of newborn babies in struggling families.

This bill included the defunding of Planned Parenthood. It's not likely to pass unchanged, but the urge to compromise may take a toll on these programs. Planned Parenthood serves one in five American women at some point in her lifetime.

Another cut in the House resolution include the elimination of support for Title X, the federal family planning program for low-income women that provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. The Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health, says a rise in unintended pregnancies would result in some 400,000 more abortions a year.

The House resolution would also cut support for international family planning and reproductive health care. And it would reinstate global 'gag' rule, which forbids giving federal money to any group that even talks about abortions. That rule badly hampered family planning groups working abroad to prevent infant and maternal deaths before President Obama lifted it.

In negotiations over the health care bill last year, Democrats agreed to a scheme intended to stop insurance companies from offering plans that cover abortions. Two bills in the Republican House would go even further in denying coverage to over 30% of women who have an abortion during child-bearing years.

Another bill, Joe Pitts, Rep, Pennsylvania, would allow hospitals receiving federal funds to refuse to terminate a pregnancy even when necessary to save a woman's life.

The resolution would even cut by 10% the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, which serves 9.6 million low-income women, new mothers, and infants each month. And it cuts $50 million from the block grant supporting programs providing prenatal health care to 2.5 million low-income women and health care to 31 million children annually.

In the meantime abortion warfare is accelerating in the states. doclink

When Averages Mislead: Effects of "Graduating" Latin America From Contraceptive Support

   February 15, 2011, International Planned Parenthood

Looking at the broader issue of funding for sexual and reproductive health (SRH), it was found that USAID and other providers of development assistance were reallocating aid for SRH on the basis of aggregate national statistics and consequently abandoning Latin America as they turned their sights increasingly on Africa.

Latin America countries are now considered "middle-income", but the gap in distribution of wealth and income is very, very large, especially if you look at things like contraceptive prevalence and fertility rate, comparing the top 20%, and the bottom 20% of the population. Also the rural areas are very much poorer and the indicators for indigenous populations in particular compare quite unfavorably.

IPPF/WHR and UNFPA Washington investigated the impact of this withdrawal of foreign aid for SRH and the graduation of Latin American countries from USAID population funding, focusing on Peru because it is fairly representative of many countries in the region, in that it has a rapidly growing economy, such that the aggregate data look very good, but on the other hand, it's highly unequal - rapid economic growth comes with growing inequality, and very high levels of poverty.

One of the things we focused on was "contraceptive security," a standard that USAID applies for "graduation," which means that before funding is eliminated, modern methods of contraception should be widely available to whoever wants them, and they should not only be available, but also free or for an affordable price.

In the public sector, there were no condoms to be found and also shortages of all types of contraceptives. Some had been out of stock for months, and they didn't know when the next shipment would be arriving. The whole contraceptive supply chain was in fact breaking down, and the overall profile could hardly be said to resemble anything like genuine contraceptive security.

In January IPPF/WHR and UNFPA hosted an event in Washington, DC to educating members of Congress, and to some extent a wider public, about this problem.

It's not that we disagree that there are bigger needs in Africa, we just feel that precipitous cutting of funding to Latin America and the Caribbean means that the criteria and the standards that were established by USAID itself in its graduation program are not being met. They need to take another look at the timing, and think about maintaining funding levels.

For the executive summary report, see doclink

Canada: Planned Parenthood Gets Silent Treatment From Ottawa

   May 13, 2010, The Star (Canada)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a zero tolerance policy on abortion and has blocked support for safe abortions by withholding funding of a $18 million grant to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Abortion is legal in Canada

"We submitted an application for a three-year funding renewal to CIDA . . . in June, 2009," said Paul Bell of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London. "It is unusual not to have heard anything about the proposal at this stage, 11 months after it was submitted."

Up until now, Canada has supplied a significant part of Planned Parenthood's $120 million annual budget.

Another maternal health agency, Marie Stopes International, has already fallen under the abortion ban - and received only funding on the agency avoiding any connection with abortion.

"The decision is a real missed opportunity to make an impact on the 13 per cent of maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortions globally," said the group's CEO Dana Hovig in a statement. "You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health and (that) includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband are also upset about Canada's abortion stance. The Canadian government won't fund abortion, but Harper says it will put money into programs for safe pregnancy and childbirth, as well as family planning.

However, Harper has not backed a plan to ask world leaders to endorse a more than $30 billion global fund estimated to save the lives of up to 12 million women, children and newborns, nor has Canada supported the pre-summit Women Deliver conference in Washington, which will be attended by senior officials and politicians from around the world, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. doclink

U.K.: Funding Contraception Saves Lives and Money, Leading Experts Report

   March 25, 2010, The Canadian Press

A leading international health organization and the UNFPA released a report about the impact of expanded access to contraception. The Guttmacher Institute says meeting the world's needs for modern birth control would reduce maternal deaths by 70%.

Family planning would eliminate two-thirds of unintended pregnancies and three-quarters of unsafe abortions.

Spending on contraception would ultimately reduce other health costs, saving an estimated $5.1 billion annually.

Canadian PM Harper has remained non-committal about whether contraception fits into its new mother-and- child health initiative. The Conservatives have shied away from abortion services being one of the areas they would support through international aid, but have also not conclusively said they would also fund family planning.

On Thursday, representatives from a number of high- profile health groups, urged the Tories at least to include family planning as part of their maternal-and child-health initiative.

While the organizations agreed access to safe abortions was part of maternal health, they did not insist the government also commit to support them.

Susan Cohen, of the Washington-based Guttmacher Institute, said other countries would have to be lobbied to pick up Canada's slack on targeting unsafe abortions.

She noted that half of all abortions performed in the world are unsafe, and contraception could reduce them to 5 million from 20 million.

No Conservative politician was scheduled to officially receive the report or meet with the groups.

The whole issue of what constitutes reproductive health caused a rift in the Liberal caucus. Several MPs either missed or voted against a Liberal motion supporting "the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options, including contraception," causing the party to lose the vote.

Some pro-life MPs felt uncomfortable with the wording because they felt it might encompass abortion services. doclink

Secretary of State Clinton Addresses the Commission on the Status of Women

   March 17, 2010, UN Dispatch

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, talking about the 1994 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. There is still much to be done :

"We have to write the next chapter to fully realize the dreams and potential that we set forth in Beijing. Because for too many millions and millions of girls and women, opportunity remains out of reach. Women are still the majority of the world's poor, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the unfed. In too many places, women are treated not as full and equal human beings with their own rights and aspirations, but as lesser creatures undeserving of the treatment and respect accorded to their husbands, their fathers, and their sons." doclink

Obama Administration's Foreign Aid Job Left Open

   October 24, 2009, Associated Press

Nine months into his term, President Barack Obama still has not filled his administration's vacant top foreign assistance post, even though Obama and secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have said they want the agency, USAID, to play a bigger role in U.S. foreign policy, and that it is crucial to deploying their preferred "smart power" foreign policy strategy, which envisions more equal roles for diplomacy and development alongside defense.

Obama's goals, from reshaping Afghanistan strategy to parceling out a foreign aid budget twice as large as the previous administration's budget, are weakened without a strong leader an agency best positioned to win goodwill for the U.S. by improving living conditions for people around the world.

USAID has recently launched ambitious development projects, including a $20 billion food security program with the backing of some of the world's largest economies. But in Afghanistan there is the need to significantly build U.S. civilian efforts alongside any military increase. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has told Obama that their efforts to support the president's development agenda on Capitol Hill are "hampered by a leadership vacuum" at USAID.

There also is deep concern in the development community that USAID is weakening as the clock ticks. The agency has already seen its staff cut and some functions folded into the State Department. doclink

Karen Gaia says: USAID is the agency which has, in the past, helped many countries with family planning programs and which has backed development of contraception.

Write to the Senate About International Family Planning!

   July 26, 2009

Congress is now finalizing the 2010 foreign aid budget, which includes global health funding.

The House has approved a bill calling for $648.5 million for family planning, a $103.5 increase over the 2009 level. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a bill for $628.5 million for family planning.

Now is the time to let your Senators know you support this and urge them to vote "yes."

In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to would prevent a future president from reinstating thethe Global Gag Rule by executive order.

The health and lives of women and families around the world depend on on these measures.

Write your Senators today and urge them to support these funds and the Global Gag Rule Amendment. doclink

House Panel Supports Family Planning Funding Increase

   June 18, 2009, Population Connection

On June 17, a House subcommittee, under the leadership of Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), approved the Fiscal Year 2010 State/Foreign Operations Appropriation bill that includes $648 million for family planning and reproductive health care, including $60 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This amount is significantly higher than President Obama's budget request of $593 million with $50 million for UNFPA.

Overall funding for international family planning declined by nearly 40% between 1995 and 2008.

This move shows that members of the House subcommittee understand that, even in a difficult economic climate, real investment in international family planning will pay dividends: it will increase maternal and child survival, ease pressure on the environment, and encourage social stability in the developing world.

The bill will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee next week.

Please sign up for Population Connection's email news at for more developments. doclink

There Hasn't Been Adequate Emphasis on Family Planning

   June 12, 2009, InterPress Service

At an African Union (AU) meeting in the Mozambican capital Maputo, health experts have been planning a program to provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services across the continent.

"There hasn't been adequate emphasis on family planning as a strategy, and yet it is a cost-effective thing." ... "When you provide family planning, you are reducing unwanted pregnancies and therefore maternal mortality - including deaths from abortion."

In Sub-Saharan Africa 241,000 maternal deaths occur every year, almost half of the 529,000 maternal deaths that occur worldwide, according to UN figures. A woman there has a one in 16 chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth, compared to one in 4,000 in the developed world.

The problem is funding shortfalls. A Jan. 20 report by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) says donor funding for family planning declined considerably from 1995 to 2004. Funding for family planning programmes decreased by 36% from 1995 to 2003.

The AIDS pandemic has been absorbing an ever-greater share of financial assistance and is expected to continue and to be especially prominent among donor countries," noted a 2006 UN ECOSOC report.

But with the pressures of population growth, the problem is magnified. "With the high population growth, governments are not able to provide infrastructure for their people, including reproductive health care," Uganda's Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, said.

Another problem is the misunderstandings about contraception. Women in rural areas talk about the intra-uterine device moving up to the brain. Very few people know about the female condom, due to lack of knowledge distribution.

In Kenya, 34% of women of reproductive age who want to use contraception lack access to it.

Cost is also a problem. While a pack of three male condoms sells for just under 15 U.S. cents in Kenya, a single female condom costs about four dollars - something of a luxury in a country where 56% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day, according to government figures.

The female condom allows women to protect themselves during rape, against HIV/AIDS as well as unwanted pregnancies, but there is lack of enthusiasm for the device stemming from men's reluctance to have their partners use it.

"We need to incorporate the men." ... "It is good for them to be able to know that it is important for sex to be safe." doclink

U.S.: House Votes Big Increase to International Family Planning

   February 25, 2009, Population Connection

The FY 2009 Omnibus spending bill provides $545 million for international family programs. Included is $50 million UNFPA and its work to improve reproductive health, raise the status of women and improve the availability of contraceptives in nearly 150 countries. The increased investment in the bill represents an important first step toward meeting the current need, and will help improve the health of women and children, reduce the strain on resources, and build strong, stable societies.

Included in the package: a $7.5 million increase for the program that provides low income American women and families with contraceptives and reproductive services; a provision allowing safety-net providers to obtain prescription birth control from manufacturers at a lower cost. A $14 million cut to Community Based Abstinence Education, a program that denies young people the information they need to make responsible decisions and has been shown to be ineffective and inaccurate. doclink

Five American Luminaries Urge Increased U.S. Family Planning Assistance From USAID

   February 12, 2009, MaximsNews

Five former directors of the US Agency for Population and Reproductive Health Program have issued a call for renewal of U.S. commitment to international family planning and calls for upping U.S. family planning assistance from $425 million annually under Bush to $1.2 billion in 2010, rising to $1.5 billion annually by 2014.

One dollar invested in family planning is likely to save four dollars in other development areas. The report also hopes USAID will increase the number of countries where it lends its expertise. The report also calls for reversing the Global Gag Rule - which Obama has done - and for renewed American contributions to the IPPF and UNFPA.

In the 1970s, about 680 million women of reproductive age lived in developing countries where USAID had programs.

Today, this figure has more than doubled, and an estimated 201 million women have an unmet need for family planning. Around 55% percent of these women live in Asia, Pakistan, Philippines, Nepal and northern India. According only about 18% of African women are using modern contraceptives. doclink

Five Former USAID Officials Ask Obama for Leadership on Family Planning

   January 21, 2009, News from PLANetWIRE

Five former directors of the Population and Reproductive Health Program of the US urged the Obama administration to restore U.S. leadership in global family planning.

A report argues that U.S. investment in family planning overseas must more than double if global anti-poverty and development goals are to be achieved.

The five experts documented growing unmet need for family planning in developing countries, where governments are struggling to provide enough jobs, education, health care and other services. They argued that this use of scarce resources contributes to the new administration's goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. The report recommends allocations to USAID of $1.2 billion in 2010 for family planning, rising gradually to $1.5 billion in 2014. USAID should use the funds to expand its existing successful programs, equip more health care providers, open programs in additional developing countries. It called for resuming U.S. funding for UNFPA, and the IPPF, both of which had funding cut off under the Bush administration. doclink

U.S.: Opinion: Ready Or Not: Obama Transition Team Publishes Reproductive Health Community's Agenda

   December 11, 2008, Reality Check

A recent directive from the chair of President-Elect Obama's transition team informs of a sweeping transparency policy that will make public all documents and recommendations from meetings staffers conduct with outside organizations. Papers on reproductive health are well-represented.

Advocates involved in crafting "Advancing Reproductive Health and Rights in a New Administration" say it represented a collaborative effort by the reproductive health community. None of the "asks" include anything not previously seen, and range from restoring funding to UNFPA to urging Congress to pass the Prevention First Act. The document is clear and comprehensive on the gaps in access to women's health care and how to repair them. It also calls for increased spending on substance abuse treatment programs for pregnant and parenting women.

What advocates were less eager to share with the public are the changes needed to improve reproductive health for women both here and abroad. The public likes being privy to policy documents like this one, getting information about the women's health agenda for the next administration.

Jessica Arons, Director of the Women's Health and Rights Program says that the groups who contributed to the document haven't yet reconvened to consider any collective communications or movement-building strategy around the document. doclink

U.S.: July 18: It Has Been a Very Good Week for International Family Planning

   July 18, 2008, Population Connection

The House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved $600 million for family planning, nearly twice President Bush's request of $327.5 million. This includes $60 million for UNFPA.

In the Senate, the appropriations committee approved a bill that includes an increase for family planning programs. The Senate bill calls for $540 million, including $45 million for UNFPA. Both bills also include a provision that would ensure the president would be unable to withhold the funding appropriated for UNFPA.

The Senate bill overturns the Global Gag Rule, a policy that, under this President, has devastated family planning efforts around the world.

The appropriations process in the House is at a standstill, and prospects for further action in the Senate are unclear. doclink

Campaigner Urges More Funding for Third World Family Planning

   June 7, 2008, Press Association Newsfile

Founder-director of Forum for the Future, Jonathon Porritt, told an audience that failing to prioritise family-planning will have a more damaging impact than HIV.

He compared current levels of international aid for family planning and for addressing HIV.

Funding for family planning has reduced over the years, while funding for HIV has grown from 300,000 US dollars in 1996 to 8.3 billion dollars in 2005.

The UN is calling for funding to be increased to around 22 billion dollars.

Mr Porritt said the world would not be able to sustain a population of nine billion by 2050 and family planning could be a solution.

Climate change, water shortages, hunger and collapsing eco-systems, worsened by high levels of fertility in the worst-affected countries, represents more of a threat than HIV. He said: "What really matters is ramping up spending on family planning. Investments in fertility management today could reduce that population to less than 8.25 billion by 2050."

Nothing is being done because church leaders, "politically-correct" environmentalists and development experts ignore population growth as a threat.

The vast majority of cowardly politicians in the rich world are only too happy to play their game. doclink

Karen Gaia says: While it is true that family planning funding is reduced and more is definitely needed, part of the article is not quite right: the Sierra Club, for example, does not ignore population growth as a threat, and some church leaders do admit that unsustainable population growth is a problem.

U.S.: House Resolution 1022 - Reducing Maternal Mortality Both at Home and Abroad

   May 22, 2008,

The US House of Representatives passed a Resolution a step toward new policies and more resources from the to reduce maternal mortality and pregnancy-related injuries in the US and throughout the world. The resolution was initiated by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) and members of a Congressional delegation including Congresswomen Hilda Solis (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Donna Christensen (D-VI) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asked Rep. Capps to lead a delegation to the Women Deliver conference last October. There, nearly two thousand participants called for a greater investment to combat maternal deaths. The current administration has withheld crucial funds that were appropriated to the UNFPA to improve maternal health through effective family planning. doclink

Family Planning Gets Mere Sliver of Aid Pie

   April 12, 2008, InterPress Service

The UN warns that a decline in funding for reproductive health is threatening efforts to reduce poverty, improve health and empower women. Funding for family planning is lower than in 1995.

If this trend is not reversed, it will have implications for countries to address the unmet need for such services, and could undermine efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies.

The largest share of population funding is being diverted to fight HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Funding for family planning as a percentage of all population assistance has dropped from 55% in 1995 to 7.0% in 2005.

The victims are poor women who cannot plan their families. There are 200 million women in the developing world with unmet needs for contraception.

The highest number is in Africa.

The result is increasing numbers of unwanted pregnancies. We will not attain the MDGs if we do not ensure universal access to reproductive health. Ensuring access to family planning would reduce maternal deaths by 20% to 35% and child deaths by 20%.

Spending in 2005 saw an increase for STDs (72%), while funding for family planning services declined to 7.0% and basic reproductive health services to 17%, but an increase of 4.0% for research and analysis.

The U.N. report predicts that the increase in funding for AIDS-related activities will continue.

The HIV/AIDS crisis is worse than anticipated while infant, child and maternal mortality remain unacceptably high in many parts of the world.

Without a firm commitment to population, reproductive health and gender issues, it is unlikely that the goals and targets of the MDGs will be met.

Barriers to family planning persist for various reasons and there is concern about health risks and side effects. * Contraception is not available or the range of available methods is limited. * The woman, her partner, or family members are opposed to family planning.

Family planning advocates have shifted from focusing solely on decreasing population growth to encouraging couples to achieve their personal fertility goals by helping them choose the number and spacing of pregnancies. doclink

Are U.S. Policies Killing Women?

   January 1, 2008, Ms. Magazine

U.S.reproductive-health policies are having a negative effect outside of our borders. U.S. administrations have maintained a global gag rule against providing counseling or referrals for abortions at U.S.-funded clinics in developing nations.

It's a rule that reduces the limited availability of other family-planning services and has led to a pullback in overseas delivery of contraceptives. In some areas, the largest distribution centers for contraceptives have experienced decreased access for over 50% of the women they serve.

The Bush administration has refused to release more than $200 million in funds appropriated for UNFPA. The administration continues to push its abstinence- only-before-marriage agenda, diverting 30% of its HIV/AIDS prevention funding to abstinence-only programs.

At the Global Safe Abortion conference, conferees were reminded that legalizing abortion doesn't increase its numbers it just saves lives. The ratio of maternal mortality has been declining at 1% annually. But it needs to decline by 5.5% a year. It would require just about $6.1 billion more in annual funding to achieve that goal.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) pulled $90,000 in planned support for Women Deliver because conference materials referred to "sexual and reproductive rights" and abortion. Abortion was legalized nationally in the US by a judicial decision, not by elected officials. The U.S. population continues to be deeply divided by the difficult ethical issues surrounding abortion. The US does not use tax dollars to provide or promote abortion abroad.

Economics and politics and even social conscience aside, we know that only by empowering all women can we ensure the future of the world. doclink

Hand in Hand

   January 1, 2008, Ms. Magazine

Family planning landed on the official United States policy agenda in the 1960s. The initial aims were not entirely altruistic: Eugenics and a desire to stem immigration played a role. But U.S. support was also focused on alleviating food crises and extreme poverty, and bolstering environmental and national security. Improving the status of women took on increasing prominence over the years.

Support in those early days was broadly bipartisan, the U.S. became the world's most significant sponsor of voluntary family planning. Today, according to USAID, it supplies 35% to 40% of donor provided contraceptives to the developing world.

But in a backlash to the 1973 Roe v.Wade decision, family-planning assistance became politicized. The Helms amendment in 1973, prohibited U.S. assistance from being used for abortion services. Three years later, the Hyde amendment cut off Medicaid funds from being used for abortions in the U.S. And in 1984, President Ronald Reagan instituted the global gag rule.

Supporters of women's rights focused more on birth control and family planning. And the two movements found themselves in separate spheres, with distinct funding streams and political allies.

The conservative forces in the U.S. who have worked to eliminate abortion, promote abstinence-only programs and exempt doctors and pharmacists from their obligation to provide contraceptives, have also been the ones pushing to export such philosophy abroad. In his latest budget, President Bush recommended cutting international reproductive-health assistance to a paltry $325 million. He has consistently attempted to flatline domestic family-planning funds, while increasing taxpayer dollars for abstinence-only programs. He has also blocked $200 million appropriated by Congress for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), that provides the poorest women in over 150 countries with family planning, maternal and child health services and HIV prevention assistance.

The list of family-planning roadblocks thrown up by the Bush administration goes on. As a result, we have complicated our messages and dissipated the scarce resources available to do our work.

Since the U.S. supplies substantial funding globally for family planning, clinics that refuse to sign the gag rule may suffer such a drop in revenue that they're forced to close. doclink

Politics-US: Congress Clears More Funds for Both War and Relief

   December 21, 2007, IPS News

The U.S. Congress approved a 560- billion-dollar 2008 appropriation that includes 70 billion dollars more for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and increases in development, refugee, and disaster assistance.

The bill, which President Bush is expected to sign later this week, provides for a nearly 50% increase to 4.66 billion dollars in fighting diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, that particularly afflict developing countries.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, will get a record 845 million dollars, 120 million dollars more than last year's appropriation doclink

No Woman Should Die Giving Life

   October 13, 2007, Lancet (UK medical journal)

Maternal mortality reveals the greatest gap between rich and poor women. Each year, 536,000 women die from complications of pregnancy, and another 10-20 million have severe health problems. In 2005, women in developed countries had a one in 7,300 lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy causes, compared with a one in 75 in developing countries. Little change has been seen in the hardest hit areas and the gap is widening.

The absence of progress in reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity is unacceptable. We can irreversibly reduce maternal mortality by making sure that all women have access to reproductive health services before, during, and after pregnancy. Voluntary family planning alone could reduce maternal and child deaths. Skilled attendance at all births, backed by emergency obstetric care, could reduce maternal deaths. The challenge is that services be provided to the people who need them most.

We need interventions to: improve adolescent sexual health; prevent early and unwanted pregnancy through access to contraceptive services; prevent the transmission of sexual infections; prevent unsafe abortion and provide comprehensive care for the management of complications; improve prenatal care, including skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care; counselling for family planning.

We must ensure that maternal health is a political priority, and the international community needs to provide support for health plans, strengthened health systems and workforces. The focus has to be on getting communities informed, educated, and involved, especially those that are poor and marginalised.

Future efforts will not materialise unless the leaders of the world commit to increases in funding for maternal health. The estimation is that, up to 2015, US$5.5-6.1 billion per year in additional funding will be needed with additional funding to achieve universal access to reproductive health. doclink

World Bank Faces Doubt From Donors

   September 25, 2007, New York Times*

For decades, the World Bank has financed more than $10 billion a year for aid for the poorest countries.

But continuing that aid is a major hurdle. Wealthy countries are balking because of their budget problems and questions after turmoil over the bank's relevance, priorities and its effectiveness.

Not least among the difficulties in raising an initial $39 billion over the next three years is the atmosphere left by Paul D. Wolfowitz, who, as bank president, tangled with colleagues at the bank around the world. German officials warned that they would have trouble financing the bank's aid for poor countries if he stayed on. Mr. Wolfowitz is now gone.

Japan is threatening to cut aid because of its budget difficulties. European countries say they are looking at other ways to give money and resent that the US has slipped in its share of the burden to just under 14%.

Part of the reason is that the value of the US dollar has declined. European resentments continue. The US has fallen behind by $375 million.

The bank's aid is channeled through the I.D.A. in the form of grants and interest-free loans, payable over as much as 40 years. About half are in Africa.

These days, wealthier nations have preferred to channel aid directly through their development agencies.

Donors prefer to earmark funds for specific purposes. It is easier to build political support at home for specific causes, especially when the World Bank has been discredited in Europe.

I.D.A. now accounts for about 8% of the aid from rich to poor countries. Trying to get contributions for a general fund like I.D.A. is getting harder and harder.

Another factor is to raise more money than in the past just to keep even. The bank has relied on income from poor countries' payments on past loans. Now those repayments are no longer available. President Bush and Tony Blair led an effort to cancel the debts of scores of poor countries. With that effort, the bank will forfeit an estimated $12 billion over the next three years.

Europe is interested in making climate the centerpiece of the next I.D.A. programs, but African countries have begun to warn that urgent needs, like health, are in danger of being overlooked.

The donor countries are still not ready to come up with large amounts of money.

But European distrust of the bank is not as high as it was earlier this year. It is waiting for a clear and compelling strategy. doclink

With the falling US dollar and the politics emanating from the current US administration, it may be more practical to find other ways of helping women obtain contraceptives, reproductive health, and education.

Senate Passes Foreign Aid Bill Lifting Curbs on Family Planning Funds

   September 6, 2007, Associated Press

The Senate voted to lift restrictions on family planning aid to overseas health organizations that perform abortions or promote the procedure. Sen. Barbara Boxer won a 53-41 tally reversing U.S. policy. But President Bush is a passionate advocate of the current policy and has promised to veto any attempt to undermine it.

Such veto threats apply to the underlying bill covering foreign aid and would ease the restrictions to permit family planning groups to accept U.S.-donated contraceptives.

Boxer complained that overseas family planning groups are blocked from counseling women about abortion or from participating in debates about abortion policy in their own countries if they want to hold onto their U.S. aid.

Brownback said U.S. taxpayers should not be required to subsidize organizations involved in abortions.

But by a 48-45 vote, Brownback narrowly won a bid aimed at continuing Bush administration policy.

The overall bill would cut Bush's foreign aid program to help emerging democracies. It also would funnel more money to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis around the world.

Bush requested $3 billion for a program that assists countries in putting in place economic and political reforms. The spending measure would boost Bush's $4.2 billion request for the global HIV/AIDS account by $940 million. Lawmakers are adding $590 million for a global fund to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria enough money to almost triple it.

Altogether, the Senate would cut Bush's request for foreign aid by about $700 million, transferring money to domestic accounts favored on Capitol Hill.

The bill provides military aid to familiar allies in the Middle East. But the Senate joined the House in denying the administration's $456 million request for aid to Iraq; $2.8 billion in Iraq reconstruction aid provided in May has yet to be spent.

Earlier the Senate passed legislation containing big budget increases for medical care for veterans.

The bill rewards the VA with an almost 10% budget increase of $3.2 billion for its health care next year on top of $1.3 billion added for health care to the Iraq funding bill passed in May. doclink

Again, my apologies for outdated news. We have had server problems and these will be fixed shortly.

Donors Skimp on Family Planning Aid: World Bank

   July 18, 2007, Reuters

Governments and donors have not lived up to their promises to support family planning programs and shortages of contraceptives pose a growing problem. Priorities have shifted from family planning to other areas because fertility rates have fallen in most low- and middle-income countries outside of Africa.

Also, getting birth control supplies was a problem in many poor countries.

Less attention is being focused on the consequences of high fertility, even in those countries that are lagging in achieving sustainable population growth. In 35 countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, most women give birth to more than five children.

More than 500,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, and about one in five of them resorts to abortion. Around 68,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe abortions, 5.3 million suffer temporary or permanent disability and many face being ostracized.

Their participation in development depends directly on accessing essential sexual and reproductive health care.

The World Bank was committed to helping women make decisions about fertility, a controversial issue for some of the nations.

European nations objected to efforts by the U.S. to alter language on reproductive health services, including abortions, in a new World Bank health strategy.

The Bush administration has been accused of denying funds to groups that offer advice on abortion and trying to limit access to birth control, although the U.S. distributes more condoms than any other country. doclink

Victory in the House for Increased Access to International Family Planning!

   June 6, 2007, Sierra Club

The House of Representatives passed its Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that eases two restrictions on international family planning. The bill included a critical amendment that would allow foreign NGO's to receive US-donated contraceptives, even if the organizations are ineligible for other US assistance under the rule.

The Lowey Amendment passed by a vote of 223-201. However, immediately after the vote, Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Bart Stupak (R-MI) tried to reverse the decision by requiring that groups receiving contraceptives not promote abortion. The Smith-Stupak Amendment ultimately failed by a vote of 205-218. doclink

U.S. Panel OKs Contraceptive Aid to International Family Planning Groups Promoting Abortion

   June 5, 2007, Associated Press

International family planning groups gain access to U.S.-donated contraceptives under legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives but left intact the Reagan-era policy of banning aid to groups that provide or promote abortions.

Republicans cited a letter from President George W. Bush last month warning that he would veto any legislation that weakens current policy.

The bill gives Bush and future presidents the right to waive current law that requires one-third of U.S. aid for HIV/AIDS prevention be spent on abstinence programs.

The contraceptive language is part of a $34.2 billion (euro25.3 billion) bill to fund State Department and foreign assistance programs.

The bill includes $4.15 billion (euro3.1 billion) to fight AIDS, up $1.3 billion (euro960,000) from the fiscal 2007 level, and another $550 million (euro406.4 million) to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

President Reagan instituted the Mexico City Policy that bars U.S. financial help for international family planning groups that support abortion. Bill Clinton rescinded the policy but Bush revived it in 2001.

The bill allows for donations of contraceptives, but no money for those groups that have been denied U.S. aid because of their abortion policies. Since Bush reinstated the rule in 2001, shipments of U.S.-donated contraceptives have been stopped to 20 developing countries. But the director of the National Right to Life Committee said the contraceptive language would gut a policy that stops funding to groups promoting abortion while channeling funds to the groups that agree to the conditions.

Democrats will be unable to pass their spending bills if they reopen abortion issues. doclink

Improving U.S. Global AIDS Policy for Young People: Assessing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

   May 29, 2007, Advocates for Youth

This report discusses the implications of U.S. government policies as well as guidance directives from the Office of Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) and incorporates findings from field research in South Africa, Kenya, and Malawi. The report identifies three major shortcomings of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in addressing HIV/AIDS and young people: 1) Ideology has trumped science in PEPFAR's HIV prevention strategy; 2) PEPFAR resists linking HIV prevention with reproductive health care and services; 3) PEPFAR does not pay adequate attention to HIV-positive adolescents. Follow the link in the headline to view this report in PDF format. doclink

US Funding Background

The Future of Population Funding in the U.S.: Mixed Prospects for Foundation Support

   May 15, 2014, New Security Beat   By: Laurie Mazur

While world population will rise to between 8 and 11 billion by 2050, private funding for population and Family Planning (FP) programs keeps falling. The Funders Network (FN) on Population, Reproductive Health, and Rights said that in 2000 U.S. foundations spent $96 million on population-related initiatives, but by 2012, funding from the donors in its data bank fell below $7 million. Some new entrants to the field, e.g., Bloomberg Philanthropies, did not get counted, and some grants that aid population initiatives may now fall under other titles. The Gates Foundation and one anonymous donor together accounted for 74% of the population and reproductive health-related funds in the FN database in 2012. All other foundation support is near its lowest level since the FN began collecting data in 1999. This drop-off in funding reflects a sea change in support for FP and reproductive health programs.

Opponents of population programs have targeted abuses, so the field now focuses less on birthrates and more on health and rights. World governments endorsed that change at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and even those who worry most about population growth have embraced it.

The Cairo paradigm has reduced abuses in FP programs, but it now makes little reference to slowing population growth or protecting the environment, and that may be hindering foundation support for all areas of reproductive health. The FP movement addressed the fear of dire consequences if population growth goes unchecked, and "it was fear of population growth that moved the money," said Peter Belden, a former program officer in the Global Development and Population Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. As contraceptives became widely available and fertility rates dropped, many pronounced the problem solved, and several large donors left the field. Belden said that "People think the unchecked population growth problem has been solved," but the problems have not gone away. While fertility rates are down globally, high rates persist in many of the world's most impoverished countries, guaranteeing high population growth in places that can least meet the needs of swelling populations.

Follow the link in the headline for more on this subject doclink

Art says: As for government spending on these programs, Reagan and the Hyde Amendment drove it down, but the Obama presidency has halted the decline.

Karen Gaia says, Regan and every Republican president since have driven down government FP/RH spending while Democrats have pushed it up. However, with the conservative climate in the legislature, it may be more difficult this time.

Both the Hyde Amendment and the Global Gag Rule has put a cold chill on the activities of NGOs even if abortion is/was not part of their services.

Two Visons

   November 6, 2012, Sierra Club

The two presidential candidates have promised very different visions for our climate and energy futures.

President Obama said during a recent interview, "{Climate} is a critical issue... I believe scientists, who say that we're putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it's heating the planet. And it's going to have a severe effect." He also said in the first debate, "We've got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar."

Mitt Romney mocked climate change at his convention just weeks before Hurricane Sandy, and proudly proclaimed at the second debate, "I will fight for oil, coal, and natural gas." doclink

Rio+20 Outcome Document, "The Future We Want," Silent on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

   June 22, 2012, Population Action International

"The outcomes from Rio +20 will set the agenda for a new development paradigm reaching beyond 2015!" was one of the many expectations for the Rio+20 conference. But people from every sector - oceans, food security, education, energy - all will express disappointment.

For those of us advancing the sexual and reproductive rights of women, Rio+20 has been particularly disappointing. The Rio +20 outcome document, "The Future We Want," is silent on sexual and reproductive rights, and, during the negotiations, many of the EU and G77 countries who have been progressive on these issues in the past were completely silent.

Despite encouragement from the U.S. and a handful of other countries to protect and support women's rights, these "allies" said nothing and did nothing as the Holy See, Malta, Poland, Algeria, and other conservative countries rolled back the clock on women's rights.

At the same time, the Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA released a study showing that in the 69 poorest countries, the need actually increased from 153 to 162 million women between 2008 and 2012. doclink

Clinton: Family Planning Key to Sustainability

   June 22, 2012, New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the last day of the Rio+20 United Nations conference that "women must be empowered to make decisions on whether and when to have children" if the world is to attain agreed-upon sustainable development goals.

She applauded the final document's endorsement of women's sexual and reproductive health which, in its initial draft said "We are committed to ensure the equal access of women and girls to education, basic services, economic opportunities, and health care services, including addressing women's sexual and reproductive health and their reproductive rights," but in the final draft, the stronger wording "We are committed to ensure the equal access" was switched to the weaker "We are committed to promote equal access," and the reference to reproductive rights was deleted altogether, after opposition from the G-77, a negotiating bloc of developing countries at the United Nations, and the Holy See.

An envoy of Pope Benedict XVI, reiterated the Vatican's position that "all human life, from conception until natural death, has the same worth and deserves the same dignity."

Leaders from other countries, including Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Iceland, Switzerland and Israel fought to keep the reference to reproductive rights, as did nongovernmental organizations promoting human rights and women's rights.

Peggy Clark, from the Aspen Institute said "The ability to choose the number, spacing and timing of children is not a luxury. It is a basic human right, one that has already been affirmed by the world community at the Cairo and Beijing conferences."

"The key word is access, above all for women," Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said. "In Brazil, we are investing to overcome difficulties and poor access to public health services that would allow the full exercise of sexual and reproductive rights, including family planning." doclink

Counting the Cost of Family Planning

   June 20, 2012, Mail and Guardian

The number of women who would like to avoid having another baby but who are not using modern contraception is now around 222 million, says Guttmacher Institute.

July 11 there will be a family planning summit in London where how much money is needed, what it should pay for and whether the fundamentally important issues of women's reproductive rights will be addressed will be discussed, and where the Gates Foundation, DfID and others will be soliciting money pledges.

Currently, $4 billion is spent on family planning in the developing world every year. That saves $5.6 billion which would otherwise have been spent on women and children through unwanted pregnancies and births. $8.1 billion is needed to meet the total need for contraception - double current spending. But that would also more than double the savings from unwanted pregnancies to a total of $11.3 billion. That is $1.40 for every dollar spent.

Dr Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute, told us that there are programmatic issues beyond contraceptive supplies that need attention if we are going to be successful in meeting the goals of the summit. One of the reasons women tell us they are not using a method of contraception is that they are very worried about side-effects and long-term health risks. Many of the things they think they understand about long-term contraception are not true. Many women even in the US underestimate the effectiveness of modern contraceptives and by far overestimate the side-effects.

It is also necessary to raise the overall knowledge of women and their partners about contraception. That probably needs to start in schools. There needs to be a bigger effort in public health education. A lot of developing countries have very good policies around sex education but nothing is happening on the ground.

There also needs to be new forms for contraception, pointing out that women who do not want any more children may be using them for 25 years - a long time not to slip up.

Meanwhile Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and others want to ensure the clock is not turned back to a time when the talk was of population control, not women's choices. Sexual and reproductive health and rights should be at the centre of the London discussions, they say in a declaration:

"Our experience, built over decades of work around the world, has taught us that the failure to take actions guided by women's human rights - to health, to life, to live free from discrimination among others - can have devastating consequences. Policies that accept or tacitly condone forced sterilization, the coercive provision of contraceptives, and the denial of essential services to the young, poor and marginalized women that need them every day have violated, and continue to violate, women's human rights."

The summit is taking place on World Population Day, which some think ominous. This must be about enabling women to choose, overcoming all sorts of barriers to having as large or small a family as they want, from ensuring there is a well-stocked family planning clinic nearby to being free of social, cultural and religious pressures either for or against more babies. doclink

There is No Sustainable Development Without a Sustainable Population - Suzanne York

   February 14, 2012, Bay Citizen

Rio+20 (the UN Conference on Sustainable Development conference) seems to be skirting the population issue. Of the seven critical issues for Rio, listed on the UNCSD website, population isn't one of them. The one paragraph which does talk about it accurately states the situation the world is facing:

"We are deeply concerned that around 1.4 billion people still live in extreme poverty and one sixth of the world's population is undernourished, pandemics and epidemics are omnipresent threats. Unsustainable development has increased the stress on the earth's limited natural resources and on the carrying capacity of ecosystems. Our planet supports seven billion people expected to reach nine billion by 2050."

The draft document addresses sustainable development goals, including sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as priority areas such as oceans; food security and sustainable agriculture; sustainable energy for all; water access and efficiency; sustainable cities; green jobs, decent work and social inclusion; and disaster risk reduction and resilience. All of these are important, but since population growth affects all of them, it should be directly addressed by the Rio agenda.

Kim Lovell, with the Sierra Club's Global Population and Environment Program, said that "Rio provides a rare opportunity to have a global conversation about sustainable development solutions that protect human rights, improve community and environmental health, and preserve resources for future generations. Slowing population growth by ensuring access to voluntary family planning and education for women and girls is essential in this pursuit. "... "When women are educated and have the ability to plan their family size, they tend to have smaller, healthier families - and with solutions like these that improve lives and lessen pressure on scarce resources, what better venue than Rio to engage stakeholders at all levels to take local, national, and global action?"

In September 2011, the UNFPA called the failure to address population in Rio+20 a step backwards and said that failure to cover it would undermine efforts to promote sustainable development. Viable solutions would address voluntary family planning, women's rights, and conservation, as well as poverty alleviation, reduction of inequality and unsustainable levels of consumption. The world cannot afford another global conference with modest or weak results.

What you can do to get population on the agenda: Go to Rio de Janeiro and join in civil society activities, such as The People's Summit, a parallel event to Rio+20 being held Jun. 15- 23, 2012. doclink

U.S.: Colorado Amendment 62 Classifies Eggs or Sperm as a 'Person'

   October 26, 2010

Proposed Amendment 62 says: "Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term "person" shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being."

If this bill passes, a woman with ovarian cancer could not have her ovaries removed in Colorado and a doctor who performed such a lifesaving surgery would be punished for murder!

Anyone knows that the start of the biological development is the human egg, and that girls are born with all the eggs that their ovaries will ever contain. So removing an ovary (even if diseased) would mean the removal of thousands of "persons".

A woman whose doctorate is in biochemistry and is loosely associated with Georgetown University wrote this wording. An ethicist against abortion, what she has framed is so poorly defined that the above scenario is possible.

This proposed amendment is unclear, unsupportable, andis misogyninistic and it would cost the state of Colorado millions of dollars to implement. Only the lawyers would profit if it is passed.

One current legal definition of "person" is "an autonomous being". This foolish proposed amendment would certainly change that, since a fetus, embryo or egg are anything but autonomous! Passing the amendment would make major changes in the legal world, and would keep Colorado's lawyers employed for years trying to figure out the ramifications.

This is clearly a case of infringement of our constitutional rights when one person's religion interferes with the ability of another person to seek medical care. The supporters of this proposed amendment don't stop with facts.

Many of the same people who are against abortion are also against any contraception. They claim, against the judgment of most reputable scientists, that IUDs, emergency contraception and even "the pill" work by causing an abortion. If this crazy amendment were passed, all of these birth control methods might become unavailable in Colorado.

This amendment has no provision for abortion in cases of rape, incest or when a pregnancy endangers the mother's life. This proposed amendment would make interrupting a pregnancy illegal-including saving the life of the mother! Even the strict "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops" allows interrupting an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, because the pregnancy threatens a woman's life. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Don't forget all the poor sperm that are wasted during a wet dream and never get a chance to live and then there are the eggs that are thoughtlessly flushed down the toilet during womens' monthly menses. This measure failed on Nov 2nd -, but proponents of the measure are determined to try it again.

World Must Act Now to Avoid a Contraceptive Crisis, New Report Says

   July 13, 2009,

Now that the world is focusing on the global economic crisis, contraceptive services is in danger of marginalization and neglect. This is doubly sad because contraception is one of the most trusted, most cost-effective and proven poverty-reduction interventions.

This was the gist of a report by International Planned Parenthood Federation - Contraceptives at a Crossroads: Averting a Global Contraceptive Crisis, which came out on World Population Day, July 11. The report described systemic problems that bar individuals and couples from access to reproductive health supplies such as contraception and condoms.

Unless governments and donors act, the health and human rights benefits that family planning and contraception services have delivered over the years will be reversed, and global development efforts will not be achieved.

Women want to space their children, and women who work a lot don't want to be pregnant all of the time.

The World Bank in 2008 reported that tens of millions of unplanned pregnancies occur because women lack access to contraception. "Giving women access to modern contraception and family planning...helps to boost economic growth while reducing high birth rates so strongly linked with endemic poverty, poor education, and high numbers of maternal and infant deaths."

The report recommended matching donations between wealthy and developing countries to increase funding for reproductive health supplies which should be incorporated into national health plans. Governments should collaborate more with the private sector to ensure supply availability and to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights. doclink

Passport to Ghana: Keys to Lasting Development

   June 30, 2009, Population Action International

On June 30, in advance of President Obama's trip to Ghana to explore strategies to promote "lasting development" in the region, Population Action International (PAI) told the press about the development challenges facing Ghana, including access to reproductive health supplies, HIV prevention and the relationship between population dynamics and civil conflict.

Ghana's fertility rate of 4.4, unchanged since 1998, is among the lowest in the region. Since independence in 1957, Ghana has maintained peace, since its independence in 1957, in a volatile region, with the latest democratic transition of power occurring between late 2008 and early 2009.

However, the unmet need for family planning among married women ages 15-49 is high at 34%. Education and employment for growing numbers of young people is a pressing priority. Ghana is in the "high risk" category for women's sexual and reproductive health. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR), while comparatively low for a West African country, is very high by global standards at 560 deaths per 100,000 births.

PAI said that "achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and Ghana's own development goals, will depend on fulfilling the country's high rate of unmet need for family planning." doclink

U.S.: Bush-Era Abortion Rules Face Possible Reversal

   December 17, 2008, Wall Street Journal

The Bush administration will finalize a regulation allowing medical staff to refuse to participate in any practice they object to on moral grounds. This is one of reproductive-health issues under review by the Obama team. Decisions the new administration will weigh include: whether to cut funding for sexual abstinence programs; increase funding for sex education programs that include birth control; whether to allow federal health plans to pay for abortions; and whether to overturn regulations such as one that makes fetuses eligible for health-care coverage.

Mr. Obama is likely to lift Bush's restrictions on funding for embryonic stem cells research, and the "global gag rule," which bars foreign organizations from using their own money for abortion services or advocacy if they accept U.S. aid for family planning.

The abortion debate is likely to focus on a bill that would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law.

Mr. Obama is expected to restore federal funding for family planning to the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) soon after taking office.

Mr. Obama wants to find middle ground on abortion-related issues. Antiabortion activists are gearing up to fight the Freedom of Choice Act, which could overturn state laws regulating abortion. The new regulation make clear that all health-care workers may refuse to provide information, such as a referral, to patients looking for an abortion.

Advocates on both sides have interpreted the rule as protecting workers who refuse to participate in providing birth control or other care they don't support. Officials close to the transition have signaled that they intend to begin the regulatory process anew. doclink

Norway Pledges One Billion Dollars to Tackle Infant Mortality

   September 26, 2007, Age

Norway pledged one billion dollars to help fight infant mortality and childbirth deaths in the developing world. Close to 10 million children die each year of diseases for which there are inexpensive remedies. Half a million young women die each year during pregnancy. Simple affordable measures, antibiotics or the presence of skilled birth attendants will save millions of women's lives.
The one billion dollars that Norway would make available would be used to pay for vaccinating children in poor countries between now and 2015. doclink

Greens Need to Grasp the Nettle: Aren't There Just Too Many People?

   September 10, 2007, Guardian (London)

Reducing consumption is imperative, but it's pointless to cut out meat and cars while having lots of children. This is the issue no environmental organisation wants to talk about. When international concern began to mobilise about the planet's future, it was the pre-eminent question, but now you're hard put to get a straight answer. It seems that there is a disconnect between those who shape the conversation about the environment and their audiences, who either are much less certain or believe that, if the planet's resources are being depleted, there are just too many of us about.

Too many people. Since the 60s, whole chunks of England have been broken up into small fragments, absorbed into a dense network of towns, cities and major roads.

Try getting away from it in England, and you are tangled in traffic jams, shoe-horned into campsites, followed by the whine of motor-bikes and the roar of traffic even up on the hills. England is now the second most densely populated country in Europe. There are those who argue that there's no need for alarm, and that we can concentrate development in brownfield sites to accommodate all the millions of extra homes needed. But how many more people can you squeeze into cities that already seem to be choking under the weight of their population density. Environmental organisations fight shy of getting into this subject. It embroils them in emotive and difficult debates. Immigration for one. Most of the UK population growth in the next few decades will be attributable to immigration. Should we have a balanced migration policy with a net zero increase? Given how many British-born are emigrating to Australia, the US, Spain and France, it would allow us to maintain our international responsibilities to provide asylum. But it wouldn't allow us to absorb the current quantities of cheap east European labour that have subsidised our economic growth.

People bristle at the idea of any government telling them how many children they can have. Should the UK government pursue a policy of persuasion, if it did, would it work? Policy has been crippled by US and Vatican opposition on abortion and contraception. Environmentalists insist that the pressure on the earth's resources are all about consumption and lifestyle, not about sheer numbers of human beings. They insist that the earth can support the 9 billion now predicted by 2050 if everyone is living sustainable lifestyles.

But some environmentalists are prepared to assert that population management has to be on the agenda. Some want to see a UK population policy that covers family planning and immigration, aimed at long-term population decline.

Only 8% of the land of this country is built on, but, it doesn't feel like that. This sense of crowdedness needs a grown-up debate. That means talking about consumption patterns and population numbers. But it would also include the environmental impacts of migration and family size. There's no point giving up your meat and your car, recycling your rubbish and producing lots of children. doclink

U.S.: House Challenges Global Gag Rule

   January 25, 2007, Ms. Magazine

A bipartisan coalition led by Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) reintroduced a bill to overturn the global gag rule that prohibits family planning programs in developing nations that accept US aid from counseling women about abortions or advocating for legal abortion.

It rule was instituted by the Reagan administration, repealed by Clinton, but reinstituted by Bush. US dollars to foreign family planning programs cannot fund abortions overseas due to the 1973 Helms amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act. doclink

Philippines: Natural Family Planning Programme Launched to Replace USAID Services

   December 19, 2006, BBC News

The Natural Family Planning (NFP) programme of the Pilipino government is the government response to the impending pullout of support from the US Assistance for International Development (USAid.

NFP would try to fil the gap caused by the withdrawal of USAid, who provided family planning supplies. The administration is emphasizing natural family planning methods (NFP) as the main type of contraceptive services to manage the fertility rate.

The government does not allow the purchase of oral contraceptives. The allocation to be used for artificial family planning paraphernalia was re-channelled to to NFP, the only method supported by the Church.

In 2005, there were 56,449 individuals using family planning, the majority artificial methods. Of this figure, only 818 were using natural family planning methods. doclink

Blair Tells Vatican to 'Face Up to Reality' on Condoms

   December 5, 2006, The Independent

Tony Blair told religious leaders to drop their opposition to condoms to help the transmission of HIV. Blair said: "If we have a ban from religious hierarchy, then you discourage people from doing it to protect their lives."

The Vatican says abstinence is the best way to tackle HIV, but, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, said the use of condoms was "a lesser evil" where one partner had HIV. The Vatican has been heavily criticised for its stance on sex and homosexuality.

The UK would increase the number of condoms distributed in the developing world. He went on to say: "The real key is education about two things: educating people about sex when they are young, but making sure that if people are sexually active, then they are taking protection. doclink

Gore Warns of Dangers of Sacrificing Science to Ideology

   November 3, 2006, Associated Press

America is inviting problems when it disregards science and reason in favor of ideology and power, Gore told a Planned Parenthood gatherin. He suggested the country's leaders had ignored warnings from generals who said invading Iraq with too small of a force invited disaster, and warnings from meteorologists before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

"I believe the climate crisis can only be solved by addressing the democracy crisis," he said. The event raised over $300,000 for Planned Parenthood.

Gore asserted that the opposition Planned Parenthood encounters comes because its foes set aside science, reason and logic.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life contends its positions are supported by science. It's a scientific fact that a unique human being begins life at conception, we believe life needs to be protected.

Planned Parenthood operates 23 clinics in Minnesota and two in South Dakota that serve nearly 60,000 patients per year. doclink

Abortion Pill Debate Heats Up Ahead of Conscience Vote

   February 8, 2006, ABC (Australia)

There are accusations of unfair tactics as Parliament prepares to vote on the abortion drug RU-486. Senators will have a conscience vote on whether to take control over the drug away from the Health Minister and give it to the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Senator Allison has accused some who are campaigning against the change of using misleading arguments and unreliable surveys. The arguments opposed to abortion are rather thin. They've suggested this drug is unsafe and yet they're not prepared to see the test whether its safe or not. But some claim they not telling the complete truth in the risks of RU-486 in comparison to surgical abortion. It is expected that the conscience vote will be just as heated. doclink

Earth Meanders - the Glamorous Too Little, Too Late Crowd

   January 31, 2006

Dr. Glen Barry says that one of the gravest threats to global ecology is half-measures propagated by misinformed, environmental do-gooders. There is little hope of the Earth and humanity regaining a state of balance. This essay reviews the inadequacy of traditional environmentalism and lists the top ten measures necessary to bring humanity and Earth to a state of sustainability. Too many people are consuming too much and their developments have severely diminished natural ecosystems. Ecological collapse has started and people are dying. The signs are everywhere - melting glaciers, chaotic weather patterns, emergent disease, starvation, and burning forests. What hope exists for avoiding global ecological collapse, and the end of civilization lies in proposals that are adequate to transform humanity's relationship with the Earth. Minor reforms are nibbling around the edges and will prove to be too little too late. For example hybrid cars and compact florescent light bulbs are not a climate policy, and rainforests cannot be environmentally harvested. Tinkering around the edges is causing more harm than good. Following are the most urgent policies to maximize a habitable biosphere and minimize human death as a result of collapsing ecosystems. No. 1 - POPULATION - Human populations surpass what the Earth can bear. We must stabilize and then reduce human population to at most a third current levels. No. 2 - GREENHOUSE GASES - Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 60% as soon as possible. No. 3 - PROTECT ECOSYSTEMS - Large, connected and protected ecosystems over much of the land and sea are a prerequisite for provision of services upon which life depends. No. 4 - CONSUMPTION - Excessive resource use must be restricted by laws that minimize impacts. No. 5 - AGRICULTURE - A transition must be made to sustainable agricultural practices and eating habits. No. 6 - SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIES - Economic activities must maintain or expand natural capital. A steady state, sustainable economy must be business, industry and humanity's goal. No. 7 - GREEN TECHNOLOGY - There is potential for development of energy efficient, more sustainable and fully recyclable buildings, products and services. No. 8 - ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION - Achieving sustainability and preparing for post collapse societies depend upon targeted restoration of important ecosystems. No. 9 - POVERTY- The focus must be upon the overdeveloped world living more simply. No. 10 - DEMILITARIZATION - Lasting security that is equitable, just and sustainable is best achieved through greater international law and investments that nurture global ecosystems. The Sustainability Solutions Initiative will focus upon making scientifically credible policy initiatives accessible to policy-makers and the public. doclink

Earth is Too Crowded for Utopia People & the Planet

   January 23, 2006, People and

The global population is higher than the Earth can sustain, and solving environmental problems such as climate change is going to be impossible without tackling this issue. What about the myriad other human impacts, land cover, the water cycle, the health of ecosystems, and biodiversity? What about our mixing of biological material worldwide, and our unsustainable consumption of resources? What about the 76 million annual rise in the world's population, which is heading towards eight billion by mid-century? Combined with economic growth, what will be the effect on our collective human "footprint"? Reducing human emissions to the atmosphere is critical, as are any and all measures to reduce the human environmental "footprint". A rational view would be that population management must be addressed. Let us assume that an optimum human population level exists, which would provide the physical and intellectual capacity to ensure a rich and fulfilling life for all and would be sustainable over the long term. With that number and a timescale as targets, a path to reach "Utopia" from where we are now is, a straightforward matter. In practice, it is a bombshell of a topic, with profound issues of ethics, morality, equity and practicability. So controversial is the subject that it has become the "Cinderella" of the great sustainability debate - rarely visible in public. In interdisciplinary meetings addressing how the planet functions demographers and population specialists are notable by their absence. Rare indeed are the opportunities to debate the trajectory of the world's human population in the context of its stress on the Earth system, and to decide what might be done. doclink

Maturing Environmental Movement Takes Uniquely Chinese Approach

   January 6, 2006, Worldwatch Institute

Some Chinese environmentalists are heaving a sigh of relief in anticipation of the Year of the Dog which gives environmentalists the opportunity to take control. It could bode well for building coalitions across different sectors of China's environmental movement. Environmental work in China requires skillful navigation of the country's unique political, cultural, and historical context. China's first official environmental NGO points to the West's long history of environmental protection, strong awareness and elected government as differences affecting environmental work. Mei Yue, media director for Greenpeace China, explained how her organization tries to take advantage of environmental principles embedded in Chinese culture and philosophy. Over the past decade, environmental NGOs have become leaders in strengthening China's civil society, bringing together resources that enable them to monitor and react to events more effectively than individuals. These groups assist governmental environmental efforts by advancing law enforcement, accountability, and transparency in the political system. China's environmental movement now boasts over 2,000 officially registered NGOs. The movement has learned to navigate the political landscape. 11 years ago, environmental groups tended to focus on the politically neutral issues but have since grown increasingly bold, influencing government policy, organizing protests, and filing lawsuits aimed at holding polluting industries accountable and halting dams and other development projects. Environmental groups are also addressing environmental concerns in the context of issues such as minority and gender relations, poverty, and community development. Green Watershed aims to restore watershed ecosystems, cultivate citizenship awareness and involve people in their own water security. Green Watershed supports microcredit for minority women, youth and adult education, organic agriculture, wetlands fisheries, and community libraries. Groups that abide by the regulations get support from China's State Environmental Protection Administration. In a country with the largest population, fastest economic growth, and the worst pollution in the world, China's environmentalists remain dedicated and even optimistic. Only with everyone's efforts can we save our Earth. doclink

Abortion Still Supported; Despite Decades of Debate on Subject, Pew Poll Shows Majority of Americans Endorse It, with Restrictions

   August 5, 2005, Newsday

A new poll shows that 65% of Americans support the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, but almost three-quarters favor restrictions. The abortion issue is of most interest to people at the extreme left and the extreme right. People in the middle have a more complex and ambivalent view: They support a woman's right to have an abortion, yet they favor many of the reforms. For the first time, the study found that a narrow majority of Americans (53 percent) favors civil unions that would give gay couples many of the legal rights as married couples, even though they continue to oppose gay marriage. The survey shows growing support for stem cell research among all major religious groups - with the exception of white evangelical Protestants. About a third of white evangelicals support the research, compared with 70% of mainline Protestants, 61% of white Catholics and 77% of nonchurchgoers. For liberal Democrats, no issue facing the Supreme Court rivaled abortion. Conservatives and white evangelicals ranked the rights of detained terrorist suspects 69% and permitting religious displays 68% nearly as high as abortion 75%. Large majorities in all religious groups and about two-thirds of nonchurchgoers told pollsters they believe girls younger than 18 should receive parental consent before an abortion. The poll found less agreement on allowing women to obtain the "morning after pill" without a prescription, with 52% in favor, and 37% opposed. doclink

Make a Film For MTV and Save Lives

   July 1, 2005, Creative Review

More than a fifth of all girls and young women report that their first sexual encounter was forced, with many being trafficked to become sex workers. "A decade ago, less than one- third of the world's HIV/AIDS patients were women; now it's more than half. In parts of Africa and the Caribbean, 75 per cent of the new HIV cases in the 15-30 age group are among young women." Creative Review and MTV's Staying Alive campaign are calling on creatives and film makers to help raise awareness about the spread of HIV/AIDS. Readers are asked to submit ideas for a TV public service announcement. MTV is available through the channel to 164 countries world wide. Women must be protected from violence and exploitation. Men have an essential role to play in this: they must learn to respect women's choices. doclink

Mel Gibson May Direct Crichton's "State of Fear"

   April 1, 2005, Hollywood Reporter

Michael Crichton's techno-thriller novel "State of Fear" would seem an obvious gem for Hollywood, but Crichton has difficulty getting a high-profile director because, he says, liberal Hollywood blanches at producing a movie that attacks the theory of global warming. Mel Gibson seems to focus on topics of interest to far-right conservatives. Gibson and Crichton are reportedly in talks, and should Gibson sign on to the project, filming could begin late this year. Crichton said "It's time for someone to expose the myths perpetrated by scientists and activists who claim we're on a collision course with doom, and no one's better at exposing myths than Mel Gibson," he said. doclink

The Greening of Evangelicals; Christian Right Turns, Sometimes Warily, to Environmentalism

   February 6, 2005, Washington Post

Despite wariness toward mainstream environmental groups, a growing number of evangelicals view stewardship of the environment as a responsibility mandated by God in the Bible. In October, the National Association of Evangelicals leaders adopted an "Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" that emphasized every Christian's duty to care for the planet and the role of government in safeguarding a sustainable environment. Signatories included highly visible, opinion-swaying evangelical leaders and some are to meet in March to develop a position on global warming. Last fall, Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, said that "Christians should make it clear to governments and businesses that we are willing to adapt our lifestyles and support steps towards changes that protect our environment." Polling has found a consensus among evangelicals for strict environmental rules. In 2000, about 45% supported environmental regulations but jumped to 52% last year. The political clout of evangelicals has increased as their cohesiveness in backing the Republican Party has grown. The latest statements and polls have caught the eye of environmental organizations who are attempting to make alliances with the Christian right on issues such as global warming and the presence of dangerous toxins in the blood of newborn children. Leaders of the major environmental groups spent an entire day trying to figure out how to talk to evangelicals. While evangelicals are open to being good stewards of God's creation, they believe people should only worship God, not creation. But the evangelicals have a stereotype of environmentalists who worship trees. Evangelicals don't know many environmentalists and have the idea they have strange liberal, pantheist views. The way to bring evangelicals on board as political players in environmental issues is to make arguments that tie problems of global warming and mercury pollution to family health and the health of unborn children. Even for green activists within the evangelical movement, there are landmines. One faction called dispensationalism, argues that the return of Jesus and the end of the world are near, so it is pointless to fret about environmental degradation. Unusual weather phenomena have captured the evangelicals and made many more willing to listen to scientific warnings. Many evangelicals find it difficult to criticize the president who has the moral authority of the presidential office and a record of standing on moral issues like abortion. doclink

What Poor Countries Need is Less -- but Smarter -- Aid; the Trillions We've Invested Haven't Really Done Much.

   January 30, 2005, Los Angeles Times

The U.N. issued a report calling for a doubling of aid to the developing countries, but that is a bad idea. The trillions we've invested haven't accomplished much, and more money will not work any better in the future. Cut aid by half, send most of the "experts" home, close or shrink most of the organizations in the aid business, and start over. Instead of funding what we think the Third World needs, we should base our efforts on what the Third World tells us it wants and what it can sustain. The U.N. report calls for more investment in primary education, gender equality programs and programs to slash preventable deaths among children and mothers. This push increases aid to an annual total of $195 billion in 2015, and officials predict that poverty would be cut by half and eliminated by 2025. But $2 trillion has been spent over the last 60 years on such familiar problems, but not once has there been any serious reduction in world poverty. The U.N. would have us believe that developing countries have a greater willingness now to deal with corruption and a greater capacity for economic growth. In 1998, the World Bank showed that a 1% increase in aid to countries with "good" policies correlated with a 0.5% increase in annual growth and a 1% reduction in poverty. But evidence suggests that such countries will grow their economies and reduce their poverty even without the aid. Once a country gets its act together, it doesn't really need much aid. And when it's in chaos, it cannot make effective use of aid anyway. Either way, more money won't help. A second argument says a better grasp of the complexity of the challenge has taught us how to move countries from the undeveloped category to the developed. But aid agencies since the 1950s have thought that they had that formula, only to find it is like squeezing a balloon -- push it in here and a bulge pops out there. It took advanced industrial nations hundreds of years to "develop," and it is not reasonable to expect the aid business to finish the job with any amount of money. Development agencies go to the recipient countries and suggest projects. But because development is complex and cannot be easily parsed into "projects," we end up making damaging compromises. We put money into projects before they're ready, make partners out of those with little management capacity and create dependency when we wanted self-reliance. There used to be a saying among Africans who dealt with aid experts: "The white man has a big watch, but never any time." The aid industry always wants to act and to spend now. A $100-million Phase II project is often approved before the results of Phase I are in. Mistakes are repeated. A project to improve chicken production in North Africa in 1965 failed. In 2004, the same project failed again in Mauritania. And the hundreds of thousands who work in this business need to keep their jobs. How many aid agencies, workers and programs are needed? How much bureaucracy and staff can be cut? What would happen if aid was contingent on recipient countries' meeting mutually agreed goals? The call to double the money to help the needy -- and prop up the aid business -- isn't likely to spur reform. More money will be paid, and not enough will be accomplished. And come 2015, more calls for more money will surely arise. doclink

This honest comment repeats the words from the book "The Lords of Poverty" published in the 1980s. However, there is a tendency in this article to ignore the benefits of aid to improvement of women's health, population growth reduction, and education.

Adam Warbach Disparages the Sierra Club and Population

   January 1, 2005, Adam Warbach

For years we have treated the anti-immigrant attacks on the Sierra Club as the result of its democratic nature. But to an outsider it seems there's nothing consistent with aligning environmentalism with keeping people yearning for opportunity and freedom out of the US. There can be no planet where only half of it is saved. Since 1997, the Club's argument has been that the anti-immigrant attack hurts our political efficacy and insists on neutrality. One doesn't stay neutral on immigration to America. Immigration is at the heart of our aspirational culture. The Sierra Club Director wrote that environmentalism is part of a broader progressive movement and we would: 1. Hold ourselves, not immigrants, accountable for the problems we create; 2. End the environmental movement's population program; 3. Start a campaign to enhance women's right globally, for that is the only way to slow the growth of the human population. The organization will invite these attacks until they let die the overpopulation fantasies within the Club. These attacks continue to grow in strength and frequency because this cancer demands a host. doclink

Warbach confuses immigration with population issues in the Club. And he refers to anti-immigrant when there is not much of that in the Sierra Club, but rather there are many immigration reductionists who are not against immigration and are not against people of color, but who feel that the large increase in people has an impact on the environment. We can hardly consider the population growth "fantasies".

Jan Lundberg: It's Up to Us

   November 13, 2004,

Move over electoral politics junkies, and get behind a radical movement to change society away from consumerism and "growth," toward peace and sustainability. We know that John Kerry did not have the guts or vision to say, for example, he would pull out of Iraq immediately in order to bring peace. So, it is now up to us to do what we can, such as slashing energy use instead of pining for a green technofix fantasy. doclink

Austrian Opposition Calls for Free Pills and Condoms

   August 5, 2004, Agence France Presse

Austria's Socialist Party called for free contraceptive pills and condoms to reduce unwanted teenage pregnancies with the cost covered by public health insurance. Austria has one of the highest levels of teenage pregnancy in the European Union at 12 per thousand. The socialist head of the regional executive proposed legal pregancy terminations to be carried out in state hospitals. 200,000 women have abortions in Austria every year, and it is legally permitted up to the third month of pregnancy, but in practice it is often restricted in provincial areas. Austria, is facing a sharp population decline with a birthrate of only 1.34 children per woman in 2000. It was said that it would be a big step to offer access to contraception to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds who are most likely to be affected by unwanted pregnancies. doclink

Chinese, Indian Firms Join Hands to Control Population

   December 24, 2003, Kerala Next

Beijing-based Zizhu Pharma and Hindustan Latex Ltd (HLL) will promote family planning products in the two countries. India will gain from a new contraceptive made by Zizhu available either as an injection or an implant and China from Preventol, the emergency contraceptive pill from HLL that is meant for use within 72 hours of having sex. Among other HLL products that will be available in China are male contraceptives, oral contraception pills and once-a-week oral pills. Apart from marketing of products of both countries they plan joint programmes in research and trials of new products. HLL recorded its highest turnover from and profits during 2002-03. Its total production of contraceptives crossed 786 million pieces during 2002-03. HLL's products have been approved by regulatory agencies like the US FDA, LNE of France and CEM Mark of Europe. doclink

Cuban Americans More Likely Than Other Hispanics to Support Abortion Rights

   September 3, 2003, Associated Press

The University of Pennsylvania surveyed 79,000 people living in the United States, including 4,676 Hispanics. 37% of all Latinos supported a federal ban on abortions, compared with 24% of Cuban Americans. Overall, 22% of the respondents supported such a ban. Cuban Americans were "slightly" more conservative than other Hispanics on social issues other than abortion. Hispanics are becoming "swing voters" and "can no longer be considered part of the Democratic base - they tend to agree with Democrats on economic issues, and with Republicans on social issues. doclink

US Grants 38 Million Dollars in Poverty-reduction Aid to Pakistan

   August 21, 2003, Agence France Presse

The US granted 38 million dollars over three years to poverty-reduction projects in Pakistan. The money is to support local government and to encourage private sector groups to deliver social services. The US signed a new health agreement with Pakistan, worth 116 million dollars, and announced it had concluded a 53 million-dollar agreement with Pakistan on an economic development grant. Islamabad has earned rewards from Washington for providing support to the campaign against the Taliban regime and the hunt for al-Qaeda. Washington has written off one billion dollars in Pakistani debt, and given more than a billion dollars in aid. President George W. Bush promised a three billion dollar assistance package which has yet to be funded by Congress. doclink

A Bit of Good News on Foreign Aid

   March 26, 2003, Patrick Burns

The Senate adopted by voice vote the Lugar-Feinstein amendment restoring $1.1 billion to the Senate Budget Resolution that had been previously stripped from the Administration's request for the Fiscal Year 2004 International Affairs Budget (also called the 150 Account). After the unanimous vote, the Senate's budget resolution now allocates $28.5 billion for the international affairs budget (which includes family planning). This was the Administration's full request for Fiscal Year 2004.

For a side-by-side of the FY 2003 and FY 2004 budget requests, see As the pie chart graph at the bottom of this page notes, foreign international affairs assistance totals less than 1% of the total FY 04 budget of the U.S.

The Senate also more than cut in half the Administration's proposed tax cuts. Cutting taxes in order to generate deficits, which are then used to justify cuts in programs that include environmental protection, family planning, and foreign assistance, is a time-honored tradition on Capitol Hill. A smaller tax cut means less cuts to programs most Americans care about -- and millions of people in the developing world depend on. doclink

Legislative Update From National Wildlife Federation

   March 1, 2003, National Wildlife Federation

While population has increased over 150 million since 2002, the amount allocated for for family planning and reproductive health has not changed. Click on the headline for the action alert. Or go to for more information at the NWF web site doclink

Congressmen Call on Bush to Abandon Mexico City policy

   February 28, 2003, The Advocate magazine (USA)

Twenty members of Congress have sent a letter to Colin Powell calling on the administration to abandon the policy, which prevents U.S. funds from going to any international group linked with abortion. The lawmakers expressed their concern that the policy is harmful to international AIDS efforts because many agencies offer family planning services alongside sexually transmitted disease prevention and treatment. Such a policy will make authorization of a global AIDS bill a difficult proposition and will complicate the year 2004 Foreign Operations bill. The Administration has not responded to the letter from the members of Congress. The lawmakers who signed the letter include Rep Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Joe Hoeffel (D-Pa.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Tex.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Fortney Stark (D-Calif.), Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.), William Pascrell (D-N.J.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). doclink

U.S.: Television's Promotion of Sex and Its Denial of Contraception Ads

   February 27, 2003, advertising trade magazine

In one part of the TV industry, frank advertising for contraceptives is unheard of -- the Fox network denied a contraceptive company advertising time during its sexual-adventure show Temptation Island. Fox's ad policy is that disease-prevention claims are acceptable but messages about unwanted pregnancy are not. In 1997, the FDA changed its policy and there has been a flood of ads for such products as Viagra, so why not open up the airwaves to contraceptives? The networks' claim it's a matter of taste and respect for community standards. There are no regulations prohibiting ads on TV for condoms, spermicides, or birth control pills. In recent years, ads have begun appearing for Ortho Tri-Cyclen, a birth control pill, which spent $13 million in advertising compared with the $20 million for Viagra. Ortho Tri-Cyclen has been approved as a treatment for acne, that makes its message more palatable to the networks. Condom ads are focused on disease prevention, not contraception. Nearly two-thirds of television programming had of sexual content last season. Why shouldn't networks let a little reality creep into contraceptive advertising? Sex sells--but so could birth control. doclink

Spinning AIDS

   February 23, 2003, Washington Post

The White House plans to extend the "Mexico City policy", meaning clinics that receive U.S. money to combat AIDS could not discuss abortion as part of family planning. If the administration follows this plan, AIDS treatment and prevention would be hampered. In many places AIDS treatment and family planning happen in one clinic. People feel less stigma about going to a general health clinic than a stand-alone HIV/AIDS clinic. Abortion is sometimes a choice of last resort, a pregnant woman comes into a clinic weak with AIDS. Her choices are bleak: her other children orphaned, or an abortion. In a negotiation with Asian regions officials tried to delete a mention of condom use and substitute abstinence-only. In the context of AIDS it is myopic and dangerous. White House officials said they might give money to integrated clinics and ask them to refer their AIDS patients elsewhere for family planning, unfortunately there is often no elsewhere, but at least it would give clinics some flexibility. The president's budget offers a tentative start, pledging only $ 500 million in the first year of Mr. Bush's promised $ 10 billion. With his latest proposal he risks letting political considerations blur the focus on the emergency work which is helping people with AIDS." doclink

U.K.: Safe-Sex Policy 'Spreads Disease Among Young'

   February 23, 2003, Sunday Telegraph (London)

The British Government's policy on sex education has been blamed for a rise in sexually transmitted diseases that threatens to cause increasing infertility and cancer. Critics claim the Government's concentration on "safe-sex" rather than "no-sex" - designed to cut teenage pregnancy rates - has deprived millions of people of the information to protect their health. There are more teenage pregnancies, many ending in abortion, and more sexually transmitted disease. Some infections are incurable, others can lead to infertility and there is a proven link between early sex and cervical cancer. The number of people suffering from STDs has risen sharply since 1995. One in 10 women under the age of 25 is now infected with chlamydia. More than 22,500 people contracted gonorrhoea and rates of syphilis have increased. The report is expected to blame the increase in STDs among women on female drinking and one-night stands. doclink

HHS Urged to Use Science, Not Sectarian Beliefs, to Shape Policy

   February 20, 2003, US Newswire

Preserving Core Values in Science is a guide for government decision-making in public health, endorsed by over a hundred organizations representing more than 120,000 leading health professionals. It expresses concern over decision-making based on ideology, not science. Agencies like the FDA and CDC should have advisors with the best qualifications, free from the burden of political censorship. Appointments to scientific panels now seem to be driven more by sectarian beliefs than excellence. It cites examples in which public policy development based on scientific and medical evidence have been ignored, and reflects a widespread concern that this Administration is undermining fundamental scientific principles. It asks the administration to use evidence-based, peer-reviewed science, not sectarian ideology, as the basis for decision-making in science and public health. doclink

Helping Poor Countries

   February 17, 2003, New York Times*

President Bush is proposing to increase and overhaul foreign aid spending. America ranks last among wealthy countries in foreign aid, less than 1% of the budget, and most of it goes to support strategically important friends - mainly Israel, Egypt, Colombia and Jordan. The new program is designed to provide aid to countries well-governed enough to use it correctly and to induce others to institute reforms. The new program must not become a substitute for helping the miserable. After the first two years, nations with incomes of nearly $3,000 per capita qualify, allies like Russia and Egypt - rather than Bangladesh and Mali would take most of the money. High percentages of national budgets must be spent on education and health, basic vaccinations. Deficits and inflation must be kept under control, and a short startup time for new businesses. The President is proposing only a $550 million increase over the AIDS money in this year's spending bill. His 2004 budget for the Global Fund, $200 million, actually cuts in half what Congress is likely to do in 2003. Mr. Bush has also cut nearly $500 million from child health. With the budget dominated by defense spending and tax cuts, the White House should not be forcing the babies of Africa to pay for their parents' AIDS drugs. doclink

Bush Eases Ban on AIDS Money to Pro-Abortion Groups Abroad

   February 15, 2003, New York Times*

President Bush has proposed $15 billion over 5 years to fight AIDS in 12 African countries and the Caribbean countries of Haiti and Guyana. Organizations which integrated health clinics that included both AIDS treatment and abortion or abortion counseling would be ineligible for funding, but organizations in which the AIDS treatment program and the family planning activities were conducted and financed completely separately would be eligible. This is considered a step back from the Mexico City policy of barring foreign aid to groups that offer abortion services and counseling along with other family planning services.
The so-called Mexico City policy was first imposed by President Ronald Reagan but later suspended by the Clinton administration, and then reinstated by the junior Bush as one of his first acts as President. Bush offered the compromise to insure the wide distribution of the AIDS money. Some groups that work on health and family planning issues said the policy may be too restrictive because it would mean they must choose between providing a full range of health services, including family planning, and taking the AIDS treatment money from the United States. doclink

US Seeks Cuts in Health Programs Abroad

   February 5, 2003,

Although the Bush administration has promised more money for foreign AIDS, programs promoting child and maternal health would be cut from $495 million to $386.6 million, and infectious disease excluding AIDS from $185 million to $104.4 million. A US Agency for International Development adviser, Felice M. Apter, said the cut could mean the child survival program, a mainstay of the USAID health efforts for 30 years, would be eliminated. 10.5 million children die each year from causes that can be prevented at low cost. Child immunization had increased from 5% to almost 80% between 1970 and 1990. But recently vaccination coverage has dropped dramatically in some countries. Some life-saving interventions are very inexpensive: 33 cents for a dose of oral rehydration salts, 26 cents for a dose of a measles vaccine, and 12 cents for some anti-malarial tablets. Senior administration officials claim that the tripling of funding for AIDS to $15 billion in five years would come from new funding. Daulaire, a former senior USAID official, said, "simply shifting money into AIDS is at very best a neutral shift, or a relabeling of money, which is contrary to the intent of the president to provide additional funding. It also could make the situation worse by undermining the ability of health delivery systems to get the jobs done." doclink

U.S.: Help Stop Abstinence-only-until-Marriage Funding Increase!

   February 5, 2003, SIECUS

Click on the headline to help. A letter has been sent by SIECUS and 41 other organizations to members of the Appropriations Committee who will be making a decision on SPRANS abstinence-only-until-marriage funding. Let your Senators and Representatives know that you don't support any increases in this ineffective and potentially harmful program. doclink

New York: Religious Organizations Sue State Over Contraceptive Coverage Law

   January 31, 2003, Population Connection

The new state law requiring health insurers to provide coverage for contraception is being challenged by Catholic and some Protestant faiths who say they are being forced to undermine their own religious principles. The law contains an exception for religious institutions that "primarily employ and serve members of that faith," but would require such institutions as hospitals, which employ and serve individuals of various religious backgrounds and beliefs to provide the coverage. doclink

U.S.: Advisory Panels Stacked, Scientists Warn

   January 23, 2003, Environmental News Service

Many scientists fear that the current administration is manipulating the membership of scientific advisory committees, whose purpose is to give the best advice based on the available scientific data, in order to advance its own political agenda to a degree that is unprecedented. This is accomplished by screening prospective members with "political litmus tests", by "eliminating committees" likely to advise against the adminstrations favored policies and by packing committees to advance the interests of particular industries. According to the associate executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), "a broad array of across the country" feel this way. Ideally, scientific advisory committees give impartial and valid advice that establish rules governing "clean air and water, food safety and pesticide use" and thus have a great impact on our lives. There are numerous examples of the recent misuse of expert panels to advance political ends. The Bush administration replaced several members of the CDC's Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention with people with close ties to the lead industry, one of whom has stated publicly that "lead is only harmful at levels 7 10 times higher than [those blood levels currently permitted by the CDC]". Fifteen of the 18 members of the committee which advises the National Health Center of Environmental Health on the health impact of exposure to environmental chemicals were replaced; "one of the new members is the former president of the Chemical Industry Institute for Toxicology." A committee "charged with analyzing the federal system for protecting human research subjects and another which gives the FDA advice on the genetics testing industry" have both been disbanded. A scientist serving in an HHS peer review study section which advises OSHA on workplace safety was rejected because of her support of an ergonomics rule overturned last year by the current administration. This policy has several adverse effects. First, according to Dr. David Michaels, of George Washington University's School of Public Health, is not that these committees will give advice "far out of the mainstream" but that they will conclude that there is too much uncertainty to give any advice at all. Second, it could reduce public trust in science and in the government's recommendation on public health issues. And third, it may dissuade scientists, who get "no glory" and are only "compensated for travel and accommodations", from giving expert advice. doclink


McCain and Lieberman Offer Bill to Require Cuts in Gases

   January 9, 2003, New York Times*

Senators John McCain, and Joseph I. Lieberman joined forces to challenge the administration on global warming. They offered their bill to reduce the emissions of heat-trapping gases claiming that the US is responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. That assertion was a challenge to Mr. Bush, who relies on voluntary reductions. The bill would require that by 2010 industries cut emissions of carbon dioxide to 2000 levels and by 2016 to 1990 levels. It would create a system under which companies that failed to meet the goals could buy "credits" from companies that exceeded them. The program would apply to utilities, industrial plants, transportation and large commercial enterprises. Mr. Bush set a policy that would rely on voluntary measures until 2012. He said more research was needed to clarify the potential risks before taking stronger measures. Senator James M. Inhofe said the causes of global warming were open to question. Many people criticized the administration for saying it needed more research. Mr. Lieberman said the administration's approach would allow greenhouse-gas emissions to keep increasing. James R. Mahoney of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that we have evidence of global change but there are uncertainties about causes and warned that the McCain-Lieberman approach would lead to years of litigation. The McCain/Lieberman bill was a political statement, said Frank Maisano representing the Business Coalition on Global Warming. Maisano predicted widespread opposition. doclink

Dioceses Fight N.Y. Over Contraceptive Law

   January 6, 2003, USA Today

Roman Catholic dioceses in New York are suing to block a new state law that requires them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. New York is the 20th state to require coverage of contraceptives. Churches and seminaries would be exempt but not Catholic schools, hospitals and social service agencies. New York exempts only institutions whose primary purpose is teaching religious values. The plaintiffs seek a court injunction to exempt them from the requirement. A similar lawsuit in California, is pending before California's Supreme Court. Advocates say religious-affiliated hospitals and other institutions employ and serve people of other faiths, accept public funds and must abide by the same laws as secular institutions. Bush had campaigned on expanding the role of religious groups in using federal dollars for social services. But Democrats objected to provisions that would exempt religious-based charities from anti-discrimination laws. In challenging the New York law, the Catholic Church is arguing that its health care is part of its religious ministry. doclink

The Next Step is Action

   Guardian (London)

Most countries in Africa are worse off than 20 years ago. Half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. Corruption has been rife and life expectancy is only 46 and falling. The Commission for Africa does not shirk from criticising corruption and incompetence that has bedevilled Africa's development, not to mention internecine wars. But they stress that good governance extends to having efficient officials and capacity at the local level. One sobering statistic is that it costs $ 1,500 to ship a car from Japan to Abidjan yet $ 5,000 to ship it on to Addis Ababa because of the state of roads built to convey colonial mining spoils rather than to give Africa a decent transport system. Yet there is a global admission, from Bill Gates downwards, that something must be done, and the report is backed by incumbent governments who have the will and the means to help even if they are tardy about raising their aid contributions to 0.7% of GDP as agreed. The US dislikes Gordon Brown's scheme to accelerate aid payments and it likes doing things its own way but one of the attractions of the proposals is that they are realistic. The old dictatorships are disappearing and economic growth - maybe linked to the emergence of democracies - has started to return. In 2003, growth exceeded 5% in 24 sub-Saharan countries. The number of wars is in decline. The agenda is formidable: debt relief, institutional change, rooting out corruption, improving education, eradicating disease and ending the immoral and economically crazy subsidies that western countries give farmers to grow crops that could be done better in Africa. The measures could cost richer countries a total of $25 billion a year, but that is little compared with the good that could come. Western institutions, as well as the governments of Africa, must change their ways. doclink

Germany Promises 23.83 Million Euros in Aid to the Philippines

   December 27, 2002, Agence France Presse

Germany promised 23.83 million euros (dollars) in fresh aid to support poverty reduction efforts in the Philippines. A financial cooperation agreement was signed to support development over the next eight years. The package includes 23.83 million euros in fresh funds and 11.4 million euros in reprogrammed funds. The German aid would finance entrepreneurship centers, credit lines for small enterprises, urban family health services, and family planning and AIDS prevention projects. doclink

Uncle Sam's Hard Heart

   December 27, 2002, Philadelphia Inquirer

Most Bush pledges to help the disadvantaged have yet to be translated into action. Overseas, the gap between rhetoric and action is more glaring. The 30 nations represented in Bangkok wanted to focus on the spread of HIV/AIDS in Asia. Instead, the U.S. delegation fixed on three issues: changing the Cairo language, which it claimed advanced abortion, promoting "natural" family planning along with abstinence for youth. These proposals were rejected. The U.S. team seemed oblivious to population problems. Imagine a Pakistani Muslim peasant woman holding up a thermometer to her husband and saying, "Sorry, not tonight" Is the administration's compassion meant only to corral votes? They may be courting religious conservatives by crusading against contraception and women's rights abroad - rather than at home, which would offend Republican moderates. Perhaps the President is truly compassionate but doesn't understand the implications of his policies. Perhaps he doesn't realize that cuts in funds for the U.N. Family Planning Agency will increase abortions and AIDS cases. Think of South Africa, where older men force themselves on teenage virgins in the belief that this cures AIDS. Perhaps Bush doesn't know that his team in Bangkok wanted to cut the term reproductive rights from the Cairo document. doclink

California Woman Requests School District End Abstinence-Based Sex Education Program

   December 23, 2002, Contra Costa Times

A California woman is requesting that the school district in Concord, Calif. end a sex education program promoting abstinence, alleging that the group running the program has given students "biased and graphic information" on abortions, the Contra Costa Times reports. Renee Walker complained to the Mt. Diablo school district after she learned that the program, called CryBabies, in her son's school is conducted by a Christian counseling service with centers that are antiabortion. She became concerned after her son was taught that seaweed is inserted into a woman before an abortion. "My expectation is that education is going to be based on educationally sound, research-based, age-appropriate information," she said. The program failed to provide information on preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. The program Director said it provides unbiased and factual information. State law says that the lessons must be "medically accurate, objective and stress abstinence." The Mt. Diablo school district plans to discuss its health curriculum. doclink

Proposed California Budget Cuts Threaten Services

   December 22, 2002, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

The state of California is expected to see a $21 billion state budget deficit, so California Governor Gray Davis has proposed health care (Medi-Cal) funding cuts threatening reproductive and primary medical services and education programs for low income clients. If Gray's plan succeeds, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte could lose $3.5 million this fiscal year. doclink

Politics Trumps Science in Condom Fact Sheet, Democrats Say; Lawmakers Accuse the Administration of Omitting Data Thatclash with Abstinence Policy.

   December 19, 2002, Los Angeles Times

Fourteen Democratic members of Congress accused the Bush administration of playing politics with a fact sheet on condom use. They claim that it omits instructions on how to properly use a condom and studies showing condom education does not promote earlier sexual activity. The apparent purpose is to remove information that conflicts with the administration's preference for abstinence-only. An official said the sheets present the most current scientific information and both sides of the debate. Waxman said that information used to be based on science but is being systemically removed from the public. AIDS advocates said the condom sheet does not contain inaccurate scientific information. Rather, it offers more information on sexually transmitted diseases than the previous version. Waxman and his colleagues also questioned why a second fact sheet about the alleged link between abortion and breast cancer was altered. The previous version said women who have abortions have the same risk as other women for developing breast cancer. The new fact sheet says the studies are inconsistent. Experts contend that the studies suggesting such a link are flawed. doclink

Contraceptive Coverage Debate Gaining Momentum in States, Remains Stalled at Federal Level

   December 14, 2002, Associated Press

State legislatures have been considering bills to provide coverage for contraceptive devices, but congressional efforts have stalled. More than 60 bills have been introduced in 19 states and New York, Arizona and Massachusetts signed them into law. Bills to create national guidelines have sat in Congress since the 1990s. The Senate last year debated a bill that would require any insurance provider that offers prescription drug coverage to provide coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives and a similar measure was introduced in the House (HR 1111). The bill would bar insurers from charging higher copayments or deductibles for contraceptives. The push for coverage began in the late 1990s, when some employees became outraged that health plans covered Viagra but not contraceptives. Opponents say that employers should be able to choose health care plans. A national law is not needed because most employers voluntarily offer prescription coverage for contraceptives.


U.S.: Still Not Pulling Our Weight

   December 12, 2002, Audubon population listserv

Follow the link to see which 20 nations donate to external international family planning assistance. If the U.S. were to give the per capita average of the 20 donor countries listed, our contribution would have to rise from $2.09 per person per year to $2.83 cents per year (still less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks). To put it another way, the U.S. donation for international family planning for FY 2003 would have to rise to over $816 million. doclink

Canada's Kyoto Debate

   December 9, 2002,

In Canada, as in the US, opposition to the Kyoto accords has taken many forms. The initial opposition was scientific, revolving around the questions of whether global warming was really occurring and, if it was, whether it resulted from human consumption of fossil fuels. Both were answered in the affirmative by the intensive work of over 2000 scientists from all over the world brought together by the UN as the International Panel on Climate Change who concluded that "global warming ... was largely man-made and required urgent worldwide action." Recently, Kyoto opponents in Canada, primarily the oil and gas industry, have argued reducing fossil fuel use would endanger jobs. Curiously, "the entire organized labor movement -- including the union which represents workers in the oil and gas sector supports Kyoto." Of the "1200 delegates to the recent national convention of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, 35,000 energy workers across the country", only ONE delegate opposed Kyoto; all the rest supported it. The union believes that "other factors, like corporate downsizing and mergers" will result in more job loss than Kyoto. doclink


$1 Can Make a Difference

   December 2, 2002, San Bernadino Sun

The Thirty-four Million Friends Campaign encourages Americans to send $1 each to the United Nations Population Fund to make up for the fact that President Bush canceled the entire $34 million U.S. contribution to UNFPA, the funding which had been approved by both houses of Congress. The $34 million is 12.5% of the UNFPA budget and without it, there will be cutbacks in family planning, reduction in the number of safe-birth kits distributed in rural areas of poor countries, and generally more misery the world's most vulnerable women and children. Without it, the resulting population growth will cause even more conflicts over resources, particularly water, and more environmental stress. The total received is now above $100,000, and at least $2,000 is arriving every day in hundreds of envelopes. The grass-roots effort to raise money was independently conceived by Jane Roberts and Lois Abraham. Ms. Roberts said: "Population stabilization is the most effective way to leave a peaceful world to our grandchildren." Send $1 to the United Nations Population Fund, in care of the U.S. Committee for UNFPA, 220 E. 42nd St., Suite 2800, New York, NY, 10017. doclink

Poorest Countries Face Test for US Aid

   November 11, 2002, Push newsfeed

Strict conditions will be set for countries to qualify under the Millennium Challenge Account program, aimed at rewarding governments that embrace civil rights, root out corruption, and open up their markets to US trade. Mr Bush promised $US5 billion a year starting in 2006,in addition to $US10 billion for foreign development assistance, or $US 17 billion including security and military funds. In 2004, the poorest countries, could compete for assistance. The number of eligible countries would expand to 10 to 20 as resources grow to a total of $US5billion annually. To win a share countries would be ranked on 16 indicators, from trade to civil rights to public health and education. A country would be judged on its credit rating, inflation, budget deficits, openness to trade and quality of regulatory policies. Any corruption and it is ineligible. Countries that perform better than average qualify for a share of the resources, pending a review by a cabinet-level panel, chaired by Colin Powell. doclink

Audubon Advisory: Population and the Environment

   October 23, 2002, National Audubon Society release

When Congress returns to action in November, they will in all likelihood take up a series of critical funding bills, one of which will include funding for international family planning programs. Human population growth is considered one of the most pressing environment problems facing the U.S. and the world. Population expansion over the last 50 years has exacerbated many environmental problems, including air and water pollution, loss of wildlife habitat, fisheries depletion, and climate change. These are global problems that transcend national boundaries. Click here for more, and how you can encourage your lawmakers to do more: doclink

We Need Your Help to Build Congressional Support for Family Planning!

   October 13, 2002, National Audubon Society population news list

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Mike DeWine (R-OH) sent out a Dear Colleague asking members of the House to sign on to a letter to President Bush urging him to support increased funding for the international affairs budget in his FY04 budget request. The goal is to expand on last year's accomplishment of 29 Senate cosigners to this letter. President Bush has pledged an increase in the international affairs budget in coming years. This letter urges the President to begin the fulfillment of that pledge in the next budget cycle and is almost identical to a letter circulating in the House by Reps. Bereuter and Berman.

International family planning programs included in the international affairs budget deliver family planning assistance and health education programs in more than 140 countries around the world. These critical programs slow the speed of population growth - the driving force behind so much environmental destruction.

Please help by calling your Senator and urging him or her to sign on to this important letter. The deadline for Senators to sign-on is October 18th, so please act quickly.

Senators may sign on by contacting Michael Schiffer in Senator Feinstein's office (202.224.3841) or Rob Epplin in Senator Smith's office (202.224.8323) doclink

Bush's Science Advisers Drawing Criticism

   October 10, 2002, New York Times*

The Bush administration's choice of science advisers is drawing criticism from Democrats, who complain that they are being selected for their ideology rather than expertise. At issue is how the secretary of health and human services, Tommy Thompson, is reconstituting the committees that are influential in shaping federal policy. The administration says it will continue to recruit the best scientific minds. The health and human services advisory system, consists of 258 boards and panels. In any year, it can appoint 450 people. Senator Kennedy claimed the administration was "stacking these committees with right-wing ideologues instead of respected scientists." At the same time, Representative Edward J. Markey, accuses the administration of replacing scientists with people with industry ties. He criticised the selection of Dr. William Banner, who has consulted with the lead industry on questions whether low lead levels are harmful. Women's health advocates petitioned against Dr. Hager, the obstetrician- gynecologist who has been asked to serve on the F.D.A.'s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. Hager, who strongly opposes abortions, would serve on the panel that reviews reproductive health drugs. Now the agency must decide whether hormone replacement drugs should be relabeled. So it has set a meeting of the reproductive health committee for Nov. 12 and 13. doclink

Taos Woman to Speak at U.N.

   October 4, 2002, Santa Fe New Mexican

Taos resident Lois Abraham sent e-mails asking 34 million people to contribute $1 to the United Nations Population Fund after President Bush backed out of a U.S. promise to pay $34 million to the fund. She and a Californian woman, Jane Roberts, who coincidentally decided to raise money for the UNFPA at the same time, will appear before a live audience at the United Nations. Their "34 Million Friends Campaign," is featured on the web at Almost $60,000 has been raised so far. Abraham and U.N. officials say the campaign has generated a lot of interest in their cause although they are far short of the $34 million goal. The fund provides family-planning and reproductive- health services to women in 142 countries. Its budget is $270 million. The missing $34 million would have prevented 2 million unwanted pregnancies, nearly 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, 60,000 maternal illnesses and the deaths of more than 77,000 infants and children, says the UNFPA. A traveling photography exhibit sponsored by U.S. Committee for the United Nations Populations Fund depicting the lives of women in Asia and Africa will highlight some of the reasons the fund is so important. Click on (in a week or so) to see them. The $34 million intended for the UNFPA has been given the money to the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund, administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides money for contraceptives and reproductive health in various countries. People interested in sending $1 or more to Abraham's cause can send it to: Chief, Resource Mobilization Branch, UNFPA, 220 E. 42nd St., New York, NY 10017 doclink

Children the Focus of Millennium Summit Goals

   October 1, 2002, Agence France Presse

The United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 aimed at eradicating poverty, hunger and disease, through action to improve the lot of children. All member states pledged by 2015 to -- Reduce by half the people living on less than a dollar a day, and suffering from hunger. - Ensure that all children complete primary schooling. - Eliminate gender disparity in education by 2015. - Reduce the mortality of children under five. - Reduce maternal mortality. - Reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases. - Ensure environmental sustainability. Develop a global partnership for development. Koffi Annan said the international community was falling short of meeting these targets. doclink

[Note: please see WOA!!s new section on Children.]

HP Charity to Cut Staff, Slash Grants

   September 21, 2002, Los Angeles Times

The value of Hewlett-Packard Co. stock has plunged, forcing the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to cut nearly half its 160 staffers and reduce its charitable grants. The endowment which was worth $15 billion two years ago has dwindled to $3.8 billion. It was second only to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The endowment has funded everything from hospitals to arts education in elementary schools. It has pioneered funding to improve the effectiveness of nonprofits, instead of just throwing dollars at worthy causes. While dropping 2 of its 6 major programs, it will continue its programs focusing on population planning and on "children, families and communities." $200 million, down from $250 million this year, and $451 million in 2000, will be dispensed this year. Many other funders and deserving organizations are suffering nationwide, however the $24-billion Gates Foundation, which has no Microsoft Corp. stock, is unaffected. doclink

18 Years Later, US Says It is Rejoining UNESCO

   September 13, 2002, Associated Press

After 18 years the US is rejoining UNESCO. "This organization has been reformed and America will participate fully," Bush said. Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN welcomed the United States' return. The United States withdrew charging that UNESCO had strayed from its professed purposes. At the time, the United States provided one- fourth of UNESCO's budget. Britain left in the mid- 1980s but returned in 1998. UNESCO said the organization had resolved issues raised by the United States.


Women Claim a Victory at U.N. Summit; Development: Delegates Manage to Get the Finalized Document Reopened to Add Words on Rights and Reproductive Health

   September 4, 2002, Los Angeles Times

Final negotiations on the Earth Summit plan had already been completed when delegates from Canada and Europe succeeded in reopening the document and adding a few words that they said were needed to guarantee women's rights to contraception, safe abortion and other reproductive services. The wording had been opposed by a coalition that includes the United States, the Vatican and conservative Islamic countries. Language that had been carefully crafted in other United Nations declarations to balance the interests of religious conservatives with the rights of women to control their health care and future had been left out from the 70+ page document until the women had it reopened. The language that was added back in said that health services provided should be consistent with "cultural and religious values," but also conform with "human rights and fundamental freedoms." William A. Ryan of the UNFPA said "Rights to reproductive health care is a matter of life and death for women throughout the world." 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions, and 585,000 perish during pregnancy and childbirth due to inadequate health care. Former Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and several other Nobel Peace Prize winners issued their own "Johannesburg declaration," urging the world leaders to take swift action to help the poor and protect the environment. doclink

Africa: Climate Foes Bury Hatchet

   August 28, 2002, London Guardian

In the first week of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Greenpeace International and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, have agreed to join forces. The two groups believe that the threat of human-induced climate change requires strong efforts by all sectors in a common international framework. Green Cross, the environmental group headed by Mikhail Gorbachev, is urging delegates to set up a $50 billion fund to promote solar energy, out of government subsidies now given to coal, oil, gas, and nuclear energy companies. The U.S. is trying to keep human, environmental, and freedom of information rights out of the action plan to protect multinational companies from litigation that could undermine security measures imposed after Sept. 11. doclink

Developing World Wants Action, Not Talk, at Summit

   August 27, 2002, Christian Science Monitor

It has been a challenge to change attitudes about environmental protection in the developed world and improving the quality of life in the less developed world. But now the question is how to pay for these improvements. Rich and poor countries are divided over aid funding and free trade. What is needed is an action plan spelling out greater access to clean water, better sanitation, and support for sustainable energy, along with specific committments and investments towards that plan. Developing countries want more direct aid and lower trade barriers. They say rich nations subsidize their own farmers and business but threaten to cut off aid to developing countries that do not eliminate their own subsidies. Overseas development assistance has fallen from 0.33% in 1990 to 0.22% in 2000, while the UN's goal has been far above that at .7%. While the EU says it will to open its markets to 47 of the world's poorest countries, and the U.S. promises to increase aid by more than $5 billion over the next three years, these funding promises need to be made in writing. doclink

Earth Summit: Issues Facing the UN's World Conference on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg

   August 26, 2002, London Guardian

The world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg aims to reconcile development and growth with sustainability, in a world growing in population, with increasing demands for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security. To achieve this, developing countries must avoid damaging the environment as they expand industries. Richer countries must cut differences in wealth between the wealthiest and poorest nations. There is a strong presence from firms such as McDonald's, Rio Tinto, Nike, Nestle and British American Tobacco. The UN has identified five areas where results are essential, water, sanitation, energy, agricultural productivity, biodiversity, ecosystem management and health. Developing countries want more aid, more money to protect the environment, greater trade liberalisation. Delegates must address the fact that the world's water will run out in 30 years. Britain's environment minister wants to focus on sustainable energy for the developing world. The richer countries want liberalisation in other markets. Environmental groups accused the US delegation of obstructing attempts to impose new targets and timetables on relieving poverty and promoting development. doclink

China's One-Child Policy Now a Double Standard; Limits and Penalties Applied Unevenly

   August 19, 2002, The Washington Post

Under China's one-child policy, women were fitted with IUDs after their first child, sterilized after their second. In Yushui province the punishment for an extra child is a fine. But education, contraceptive choice and fines are not universal. Elsewhere in China, birth quotas lead to abortions and sterilizations. Growing numbers enjoy freedom in deciding when and how many children to have, but others are constrained by family planning workers. The Bush administration withheld funds from the UNFPA because the agency's activities in China maintain coercive abortion. The European Union, boosted funding for UNFPA, saying it moved China to more humane family planning. In Yushui province, local officials used to pressure women to have abortions and evaluated family planning workers by the number of women sterilized. A project to limit births by expanding health services for women, provide more information about contraception and allow couples to make their own decisions was approved by Beijing. UNFPA provided funding and training to 32 rural counties, including Yushui, that eliminated birth permits and stopped promoting abortion. Four years later, population growth in Yushui has remained steady. Many Yushui residents said they have fewer children because of shrinking land holdings and rising school costs. They want to concentrate resources on one or two children, allowing them to perhaps go to college and escape life in the countryside. Nearly a quarter of China's people have eliminated birth permits and quotas over the past five years. Half the population lives in jurisdictions that allow women to choose which type of contraception to use. An team sent by Secretary of State Powell visited UNFPA counties and found no evidence of coercive abortions or sterilizations. The Bush administration noted that even in the UNFPA counties, the government fines couples who have unapproved children. The law describes the fines as "social compensation fees" to cover the cost to society of an additional child and those who have unapproved children should suffer disciplinary measures. In the 32 UNFPA counties, the fines as set by local regulations and are from one to eight times the annual local income. UNFPA hopes to persuade the government to review them. Chinese officials acknowledged the fines are coercive, but said they are justified. doclink

Beyond the Horizon; Will the Future Be Barren Or Bountiful?

   April 26, 2002, Push newsfeed

The U.N. Secretary-General offers two visions of humanity. Relentless storms and floods; islands and coastal regions inundated by rising sea levels; soils rendered barren by drought; mass migrations of refugees; and conflicts over natural resources. Alternatively think of green technologies; livable cities; energy-efficient homes, transport and industry; and rising standards of living for all. This path exists and is possible with the policies, knowledge and technologies at our disposal today. In the century just ended, society found itself able to exploit the energy from fossil fuels. Gains in agriculture pushed people from farms into factories and cities. Too many have put their faith in technological breakthroughs as the answer to any resource constraints. Slowly, however, the world has seen the dangers of business as usual. But our understanding has run ahead of our political response. Johannesburg aims to stress sustainable development. Prosperity built on the despoliation of the environment is only a temporary reprieve from disaster. Ecology and economy can be integrated. We cannot afford to downplay the problems nor think that sustainable development will happen of its own accord. doclink

Abortion Politics

Sex-Selective Abortion Bans-a Disingenuous New Strategy to Limit Women's Access to Abortion; Entrenched Preference for Sons Should Be Addressed by Countering Social and Cultural Bias Against Women, Not by Eroding Their Health and Rights

   May 30, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

Over the last four years U.S. abortion rights opponents have advanced legislation to ban sex-selective abortion at the federal level and in 13 states. Oklahoma and Arizona have already enacted such laws.

Sneha Barot, author of a new Guttmacher analysis says "These proposals cynically advance a narrow agenda that starts and ends with banning abortion." ... "The experience of other countries has clearly demonstrated that such bans are not only ineffective, but they further exacerbate gender discrimination by undermining women's autonomy and creating additional obstacles to women's health care."

Sex-selective abortion is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia, where an inordinately high social value is placed on men over women. In those countries, sex-selective abortion has resulted in dangerously skewed sex ratios, with boys heavily outnumbering girls. In the United States, meanwhile, there is limited data indicating that sex-selective abortion may be occurring in some Asian communities, although the U.S. sex ratio, at 1.05 males for every female, is squarely within biologically normal parameters.

"The underlying gender discrimination that drives son preference-and needs to be addressed through social, legal and economic policies that raise women's status-remains. Only South Korea has made significant progress-and researchers largely credit changes in underlying social norms that resulted from urbanization and rapid economic development." doclink

Judge Permanently Blocks Oklahoma's Ban on Medication Abortion and Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancies

   May 14, 2012, Center for Reproductive Rights

In an unprecedented ruling recognizing bodily integrity and reproductive choice as fundamental rights under the Oklahoma state constitution, an Oklahoma state judge has found that a law severely and arbitrarily restricting medical care for women seeking an abortion is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. Women seeking abortions in Oklahoma will continue to have access to non-invasive treatment options that use medications.

Judge Worthington ruled that the bill's restrictions on medication abortion are unconstitutional because they are "so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of medicine that [the bill] can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do."

More than 1.4 million women in the U.S. have chosen to safely end an early pregnancy through medication abortion since mifepristone was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 2000, and reams of scientific data clearly show that medication abortion is highly safe and effective. doclink

Report: State Lawmakers Pass Nearly 50 Anti-abortion Bills in 2015

   December 7, 2015, Hill   By: Sarah Ferris

State legislators in 16 states approved nearly 50 bills restricting access to abortion over the last year.

"The ultimate goal of these politicians is to criminalize women's health services one by one until no safe, legal options are available to any woman who makes the decision to end a pregnancy," the Center for Reproductive Rights wrote. "It is particularly troubling that these restrictions were enacted in a region of the country where care is already scarcely available," the report said.

Five state legislatures voted to lengthen waiting periods for abortions. Two states, West Virginia and Wisconsin, voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy; Michigan, Ohio and South Carolina also considered the ban. That restriction, which is now in place in 16 states, has been mired in controversy and has been struck down in several district and appellate courts. doclink

Contraception Is Not Abortion: The Strategic Campaign of Antiabortion Groups to Persuade the Public Otherwise

   Guttmacher Institute   By: Joerg Dreweke

During the November 2014 midterm elections, American voters decisively rejected ballot measures in two states that sought to define human personhood -- with all its attendant legal rights -- as starting at fertilization. Personhood measures would make it possible to ban some common FDA-approved contraceptive methods as well, because personhood proponents assert that these methods work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg.

Even though prominent U.S. antiabortion groups like Americans United for Life (AUL), Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have publicly kept their distance from fights over personhood amendments, they have not shied away from asserting in other contexts that certain methods of contraception are actually methods of abortion.

In the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, certain for-profit employers were granted an exemption from the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) contraceptive coverage guarantee. During this debate, the view that emergency contraceptives and IUDs constitute abortion was expressed in legal briefs, press statements and elsewhere.

The claim that contraception is an abortifacients contradicts the facts laid out in detail in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in October 2013 by numerous medical associations, led by Physicians for Reproductive Health and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A contraceptive method, by definition, prevents pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization or implantation. Abortion ends an established pregnancy, after implantation.

Because of the scientific fact that most fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant in the uterus, the legal definition of pregnancy reflects also the scientific definition, and this has long been accepted by federal agencies, and by U.S. and international medical associations.

The amicus brief describes evidence showing that hormonal and copper IUDs and the emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella have never been shown to disrupt an existing pregnancy, so none can accurately be called an abortifacient. Plan B and ella work primarily by preventing ovulation; they can work for up to five days after sex, because sperm can survive in a woman's body for that long. The hormonal and copper IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Only the copper IUD, when used as an emergency contraceptive, appears capable of preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, which, by medical definition, preceeds pregnancy.

The antiabortion movement has a long history of strategically using outdated information and outright junk science to restrict access to reproductive health care, from the supposed mental health impact of abortion to discredited assertions that abortion causes breast cancer.

Part of the problem is that the label on Plan B that states that Plan B "may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium) does not reflect the most current research, But updating FDA-approved labels is a time-consuming and expensive process and so it is not uncommon that such labels do not keep pace with the underlying science, such as the label on the birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin which say that they work primarily by suppressing ovulation, but also state that "other possible mechanisms may include...endometrial changes that reduce the likelihood of implantation.

Court briefs filed by various antiabortion groups in support of Hobby Lobby's refusal to cover certain contraceptives assert that the case is about the company's right to refuse on religious grounds to facilitate abortion. The brief from USCCB contains numerous references to objecting companies being forced to cover "abortion-inducing drugs and devices." AUL states that the the ACA's contraceptive coverage guarantee is a "back door abortion mandate" that requires employers to cover "life-ending drugs that have been deceptively labeled as contraception, despite the fact that the guarantee explicitly extends only to FDA-approved contraceptive methods. SBA List also refers to the guarantee as an "Abortion Drug Mandate," while the Heritage Foundation says it requires "coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices."

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) says that Plan B can lead to "embryo death" by preventing implantation and that "IUDs work by either killing the embryo or by preventing the embryo from implanting." AUL claims that "ella can kill an embryo even after implantation has occurred,"

While claiming that the ACA's contraceptive coverage guarantee that emergency contraceptives and IUDs constitute abortion, groups like AUL, SBA List and USCCB pretend in other contexts that they hold no such views. In February 2014 article by USCCB's Richard Doerflinger discussing the decline in U.S. abortion rates. Doerflinger consistently refers to IUDs and emergency contraception as "contraceptives" or "contraception," never mentioning these methods' supposed abortifacient qualities and accepting without question the mainstream definition of abortion as the termination of an established pregnancy.

There are hundreds of policies in effect that regulate and restrict access to abortion care across the United States, both at the federal and, especially, the state level. Treating some contraceptives as abortifacients and applying the full range of existing abortion restrictions to them would have a dramatic impact. If the myriad hardships and indignities to which U.S. women who obtain abortions are often subjected were applied to IUD and emergency contraceptive users, the effect would border on the bizarre. For instance, women who self-administer Plan B would potentially run afoul of state laws that prohibit self-inducing an abortion or practicing medicine without a license. Another example: a physician in Missouri inserting an IUD would be required to do so in an ambulatory surgical center and would also need hospital admitting privileges.

Attacks have already been made on public insurance coverage (under Medicaid, Title X national family planning program, and other federal or state programs) and other public funding for some contraceptive methods by claiming they cause abortion.

The influential organizations behind this anticontraception agenda have compartmentalized the debate, which allows them to pick and choose when contraception should be viewed as abortion and when it should not. They are essentially able to pursue a "personhood" argument in areas where doing so is politically feasible, but at the same time feign moderation by keeping the full-fledged, politically toxic "personhood" agenda at arm's length. This deception is part of a deliberate, long-term strategy to limit women's access not only to safe and legal abortion, but to common methods of contraception as well. doclink

How Anti-Abortion Extremists Target Black Women

Anti-abortion groups claim to care about black lives, but only for the purpose of advancing their own agenda.
   October 21, 2015, Vice   By: Gabby Bess

Despite the fact that black people are being killed by police at twice the rate of white people, pro-life extremists want you to believe that a very different black genocide is quietly taking place.

Billboards appeared stating things like, "Black children are an endangered species," or "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb," or "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted" (with the image of President Barack Obama). While these heavy-handed ads have almost all but disappeared, other anti-abortion groups have adopted the tactic of framing abortion as a calculated assault on black people. In California, New Jersey, and Virginia, a group called the Radiance Foundation put up billboards that simultaneously shamed black single mothers and black women who choose to have an abortion.

It's not like these groups actually care about black lives. They only care about advancing their anti-abortion agenda and capitalizing on the political cachet of the Black Lives Matter movement.

After the "Center for Medical Progress" released deceptively edited videos that claimed Planned Parenthood employees profited from the sale of fetal tissues, an new anti-abortion campaign named the fetal tissue in the Center for Medical Progress video Emmett, saying the fetus the tissue was from "is the Emmett Till of the pro-life movement," referring to Emmett Till, the black Mississippi teen who was brutally murdered in 1955 after allegedly "flirting with a white woman."

The logic connecting a black boy who was murdered in the Jim Crow South to a sample of fetal tissue voluntarily donated to a health provider is virtually non-existent.

"Things like this feed the stereotype that black women are inherently bad people who are going to hurt their children simply because they may need an abortion at some point in their lives," said NARAL board member and activist Renee Bracey Sherman." A lot of these organizations tend to play off the fact that black women are five times more likely to have an abortion than their white counterparts, but don't actually look at the root cause of that, which is lack of access to consistent contraception. In Texas, people are splitting [birth control] pills between family members because they're so hard to get."

These groups are doing nothing to make sure that black children have the right to an education, have a roof over their head, or can play in the park without being killed.

Anti-abortion groups frequently claim that abortion clinics systematically set up shop in black communities, which has lead to "black genocide. They tout abortion as the number one killer in the black community. But according to the Guttmacher Institute, only 6% of abortion providers are located in majority black neighborhoods; 60% are located in majority white neighborhoods.

An organization, SisterReach, in Tennessee, is combatting the rise of patronizing, anti-abortion billboards with messaging of their own. A poll from 2013 shows that eight in ten African Americans support abortion and the majority believe that "efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy are preferable to making abortion illegal."

"I don't deserve to be shamed for my reproductive health decisions, even when it's an abortion," one of SisterReach's billboards read. "Trust me to make the best decisions for myself, my family, and my community." doclink

Report: Abortion Restrictions Led to Longer Wait Times

   October 5, 2015, The Texas Tribune   By: Alexa Ura

About half of Texas abortion clinics have closed their doors following the passage of House Bill 2. As a result, in the last year, some women in Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin have waited up to 20 days to obtain the procedure.

Under HB 2, doctors who perform abortions are required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. A separate provision, currently blocked from enforcement by the Supreme Court, would require Texas abortion facilities to meet the same standards as so-called ambulatory surgical centers.

In Dallas, wait time in Dallas has increased from five days to as long as 20 days.

HB 2 also banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. doclink

U.S.: How Personhood Laws Can Land Women in Court for Crimes Against Their Own Fetuses

   October 5, 2015, Vice   By: Kristen Gwynne

Purvi Patel entered a hospital for heavy bleeding after a miscarriage in July 2013. She said she was only two months pregnant at the time of her miscarriage. She admitted that she'd put the fetus in a dumpster, emphasizing that she'd thought it to be dead.

Patel had been hiding the pregnancy from her conservative Hindu family and it is believed that she did not receive prenatal care.

She was alleged to have taken abortifacients she purchased online from a pharmacy overseas. Expert witnesses at her trial estimated her gestation to be past Indiana's 20-week window for legal abortion. The prosecution put forth a bizarre and highly disputed "lung float" theory, asserting that because the fetus's lung floated when tested, Patel had actually delivered a living, breathing baby and left it to die.

She was convicted and sentenced-to 20 years in prison for neglect of a dependent and "feticide" related to her own abortion attempt.

Her case immediately became a rallying cry among pro-choice advocates who point out that pro-lifers have long maintained that the criminalization of abortion would target only shady providers, not the women seeking them. Patel's case reflects a nationwide climate in which the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that fetuses are not separate people with separate rights is routinely challenged.

Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), noted that anti-abortion measures defining life as beginning with conception "are providing the grounds for locking pregnant women up."

In a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Paltrow and her co-author identified more than 400 arrests, detentions, and forced medical interventions for which a woman's pregnancy was a "necessary factor" between 1973, the year of the Roe v. Wade decision, and 2005.

More than 80 percent of the cases identified by NAPW involved a charge of using an illegal substance, most often cocaine, harking back to the now debunked "crack baby" hysteria of the crack-cocaine era.

"Basically, since the 1980s, prosecutors started charging pregnant women who use drugs with crimes like child endangerment or delivering drugs to a minor... and in almost every state except South Carolina and Alabama, the courts invalidated those prosecutions," Linda Fentiman, a Pace University professor specializing in health and criminal law said.

The first woman to be convicted of homicide by child abuse due to her behavior during pregnancy was Regina McKnight, who was arrested in 1999 and then sentenced to 12 years in prison for a stillbirth she allegedly caused by taking cocaine. The Supreme Court of South Carolina overturned her conviction in 2008, ruling that McKnight had received inadequate counsel and was convicted on the basis of "outdated" assumptions about the harms of prenatal exposure to cocaine. As an amicus brief filed with the court explained, "Cocaine is no more harmful than nicotine use, poor nutrition, lack of prenatal care, or other conditions commonly associated with the urban poor."

It has long been established in the medical community that criminalizing addiction during pregnancy may actually deter women from receiving prenatal care, jeopardizing the health of both the mother and the fetus.

In New York, Jennifer Jorgensen is currently appealing her conviction of manslaughter in the death of the fetus she was carrying when she caused a car wreck that killed two other passengers in another vehicle. Jorgensen was acquitted of driving under the influence and manslaughter related to those deaths, but the manslaughter charge for the fetus inside her belly at the time of the crash (which died after an emergency C-section later) stuck.

Jorgensen's attorney says her conviction is unfounded and argued in court: "It is impossible to commit this crime. At the time of the reckless acts, the victim did not legally exist." doclink

The War on Women is Over - and Women Lost

While you weren't watching, conservatives fundamentally rewrote abortion laws.
   September 9, 2015, Mother Jones   By: Molly Redden

In 1971, New York was one of the few places in the country where abortion was legal. Women who hitchhiked or drove from all over the Midwest and New England to reach an abortion clinic.

Roe v. Wade was supposed to put an end to women crossing state lines for their abortions. But over the last four years, abortions have become more and more difficult to obtain. Even where laws can't quite make it impossible for abortion clinics to stay open -- they are closing down at a rate of 1.5 every single week -- they can make it exhausting to operate one. In every corner of America, four years of unrelenting assaults on reproductive rights have transformed all facets of giving an abortion or getting one.

Activists have been calling it the "war on women." But the onslaught of new abortion restrictions has been so successful, so strategically designed, and so well coordinated that the war in many places has essentially been lost.

Women trek hundreds of miles north from Dayton, Ohio, or east from South Bend, Indiana, for an abortion at a Detroit Michigan center. Or they drive from Kentucky to New Jersey, or fly from Texas to Washington, DC,. Some are already miscarrying-probably after taking pills or herbal concoctions they got from the internet. A few have tried to open their cervix by digging into it with a sharp object.

Most abortions today involve some combination of endless wait, interminable journey, military-level coordination, and lots of money.

Texas is a prime example. In 2013 Texas state Senator Wendy Davis spent 11 hours filibustering a bill that threatened to shut down more than three-quarters of Texas' 41 abortion clinics. But Republican Gov. Rick Perry called the Legislature back for a special session and the bill soon passed.

One portion of the bill-known as HB 2-required all abortions to take place in what amounts to a mini-hospital. Another section required clinics to make administrative pacts with local ERs, which wiped out clinics in areas where all the hospitals are Baptist or Catholic, or susceptible to political pressure.

The measure reduced the number of abortion clinics in Texas from 41 clinics to 22; today, there are 18. Today there is a swath of Texas 550 miles wide without a single abortion provider.

Abortion clinics weren't the only victims: a Planned Parenthood clinic, felled by dramatic cuts to the state's family planning budget, has been replaced by a crisis pregnancy center, a pro-life clinic where women are told scientifically debunked claims about supposed links between abortion and breast cancer or thoughts of suicide.

Whole Woman's Health operates four clinics in Texas. Three of them may succumb to HB 2. But CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller sued the state, claiming that the distances women would be forced to travel constitute an "undue burden"-the legal standard the Supreme Court established in 1992 for striking down an abortion restriction.

Miller won in district court, but lost when the state took the case to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In June, the US Supreme Court put the 5th Circuit's decision on hold-for the time being, all 18 clinics remain open pending the high court's decision in the fall as to whether it will hear the case. Because the lawsuit offers the court a chance to clarify the definition of "undue burden," it could be the most important -- or detrimental -- decision on abortion rights in two decades. If Miller loses, Texas will be free to shut down all but 10 clinics.

Miller is not waiting for that. Her newest clinic for Texas women is across the state border-in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Almost half of the patients at Whole Woman's Health in Las Cruces come from Texas. It's an hour's drive from the large city El Paso, which has already lost one of its two clinics. Some patients have driven six hours from Lubbock, even 10 hours from the Dallas suburb of Waxahachie.

Ironically, the fact that Miller opened a clinic in Las Cruces is now being used to fight her lawsuit: El Paso women would live 1,100 miles, round-trip, from the nearest Texas abortion clinic -- but, state lawyers noted, her clinic in New Mexico is only an hour away from El Paso.

The goal of abortion opponents is to shift the parameters on what are publicly -- and therefore politically -- acceptable options between two extremes. As this political theory goes, apply the right pressures, and over time the window can shift and radical ideas can become mainstream. Many abortion opponents have abandoned violent protests and clinic bombings to push for restrictions that purport to be about informed consent (waiting periods) or safety (surgical facilities).

Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life (AUL), claims that Roe v. Wade implicitly permits abortion for any reason at any time during pregnancy. AUL, which has written most of the model abortion legislation adopted across the country, is responsible for the recent wave of restrictions.

A clinic in southern New Jersey is seeing more and more patients from Virginia -- they travel that far because clinics in Maryland and Delaware are overbooked -- and the Midwest, where many clinics have shut down. Ohio has closed 7 of 16 clinics since 2011.

Thirteen states, including Texas, have introduced laws that require women to make an extra clinic visit -- usually for anti-abortion counseling -- 24, 48, or even 72 hours before they can get the procedure. Sarah Roberts, a researcher with the University of California - San Francisco, found that Utah's three-day waiting period caused the average woman to delay her abortion eight days. The delay cost women money (in Texas, an average of $141) and forced them to have to tell more people about their abortions. Roberts met one woman who couldn't get an abortion because the delay prolonged her pregnancy to the second trimester.

Fewer abortion clinics also means longer waits, which can mean a more complicated and expensive procedure.

For the "ambulatory surgical center" (ASC) where Texas wants to abortions to take place there are strict square footage standards and requirements for pricey equipment-like scrub sinks and air filtration systems-that doctors simply don't need for first-trimester abortions, costing about 40% more in utilities and property taxes. That is, if they can raise the funds -- several million dollars -- to build them.

In addition to Texas, 24 other states have passed legislation to require many abortions to be performed in such facilities. Mainstream medical groups are unequivocal that the vast majority of abortions do not require such precautions. 90% of abortions take place in the first trimester. The procedure is typically performed while the woman is under mild sedation or awake and under local anesthesia. The doctor places a speculum in the vagina, dilates the cervix, and uses a suction device -- which can be electrical or as simple as a small plastic syringe -- to remove the pregnancy from the uterus.

Abortion is 40 times safer than a colonoscopy.

AUL's Yoest disagrees: "I find it really offensive when they make these kinds of arguments. The abortion industry wants to try to convince the American public that they should be allowed to maintain unsafe businesses under the guise of access."

"In my clinics, staff have scrubs on, but they can hold a patient's hand," Miller told me. Women wait for their turn in a reception area, she added, and they wear their own clothes. But in surgical centers like this one, all the patients are naked beneath their hospital gowns. "There's no individuality." Clinics can't use heating pads any more, because they might harbor bacteria. These are appropriate safety measures for facilities where surgeons cut people open -- but that's not what happens in a first-trimester abortion.

For the last 15 years, abortion hasn't necessarily required a "procedure" at all, now that the FDA gave its approval to RU-486 -- -a.k.a. the abortion pill. More than 2 million women have ended their pregnancies using medication alone. The ease, privacy, and efficiency offered by this method comes with great advantages.

In Iowa Planned Parenthood has seven clinics in the state where women can get the two types of pills necessary for an abortion: Mifeprex, which blocks progesterone, a hormone that is vital to a pregnancy, and misoprostol, which causes uterine contractions that flush out the pregnancy.

Medication abortion is ideally suited for a rural state like Iowa because the doctor's role is fairly uncomplicated. A doctor assesses a woman's chart and vitals, explains how the pills work, and hands them over. The doses are spaced one to two days apart, and women can take the second dose at home. Because few Iowa doctors are willing to provide abortions, and the population is so dispersed, Planned Parenthood started to link patients to doctors over video chat-what's called "telemedicine." At any one of its seven clinics, a nurse seats a patient in a sparse room with a computer monitor. The doctor and the patient talk via video feed. Then, with a remote control, the doctor opens a drawer next to the woman containing her pills.

The process saves many women an 8-9 hour round-trip. But abortion foes have managed to ban telemedicine abortions in 17 states since 2011. They have also legislated the dosage of medication a woman may take. Today's recommended dosage is different from the original dosage approved by the FDA in 2000. However, five states have now passed laws requiring doctors to prescribe abortion pills according to the original, outdated FDA guidelines.

Those older dosages are harder to tolerate -- failure rates more than double, and almost every woman experiences at least one severe side effect like nausea, vomiting, or cramps. Most doctors will not prescribe drugs with the older dosages.

One provider, David Burkons in Ohio, uses the old dosages. He said: "I explain there could be these effects," .. "And still, there are people who, this is what they want to do." Patients must make four trips to his office: one to hear him read a script describing the fetus, which is required by the state, one for each dose, because the old guidelines prevent them from taking the second dose at home, and a fourth time for a follow-up. Women often bleed after the second dose-only now it's in their cars instead of at home. And the procedure currently costs an extra $160. Some of his patients have experienced incomplete abortions -- an inevitable outcome when using the outdated dosage -- and an anti-abortion group is using this to close down his abortion operation.

Because of the extra time and money involved in getting a medical abortion, the abortion patient population has been skewed toward women who are white, educated, and insured, says Ushma Upadhyay, a researcher for the UC-San Francisco project who has been studying Ohio. And the number of medication abortions has plummeted. One Ohio clinic group provided 2,172 medication abortions the year before the law went into effect. In the three years after this number dropped 75%

The Center for Choice, an abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, had to close in 2013 due to a new law requiring abortion clinics to enter into a "transfer agreement" -- a contract with a local hospital to take any patients having complications. But all of Toledo's hospitals refused to make a deal with the clinic.

Joffe, the UC-San Francisco researcher, points out that in the past, anti-abortion activists targeted providers and made them victims of sustained violence. Protesters chained themselves to the front doors of clinics, a radical tactic that turned public opinion in clinics' favor.

Today, clinics are more preoccupied with state-sanctioned harassment. "In some ways, this is worse," Joffe says. "Why are these pro-choice fanatics making such a fuss? It's not policemen coming to get the protesters off your back anymore. It's inspectors coming to shut you down."

In Michigan, a new law requires a woman to print and read anti-abortion literature 24 hours before her abortion. When she prints the documents, they bear a time stamp. At least once a week, a woman appears at the clinic who read the documents the day before but couldn't print them until the morning of her procedure. Some women cannot print the document in their home because they use phones instead computers. The clinic staff has to turn the women away, and the women become furious and take it out on the staff, which is very demoralizing.

There are signs that self-abortion attempts are on the rise. Renee Chelian, who runs an abortion clinic in Detroit Michigan, says there are fewer women each year who can recall what abortion was like before it was legal. "What they don't know anymore, what's gotten lost in the history, is how many women died trying to give themselves abortions," she said. doclink

Poll Finds Widespread Support for Funding Health Care Services Through Planned Parenthood

   August 19, 2015, National Partnership for Women and Families

The antiabortion group CMP (Center for Medical Progress) recently distributed a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood staff discussing the sale of donated fetal tissue with CMP activists posing as buyers. Planned Parenthood supporters say that these videos are part of a long-term campaign against Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood notes that 1) While it is reimbursed for costs associated with fetal tissue donations, which is legal, it does not profit from the donations. 2) The officials filmed in the heavily edited videos did nothing illegal.

A Reuters/IPSOS poll found that 73% of U.S. respondents say they support federal funding for unnamed groups to provide women's health exams and screenings. 69% said they supported such funding for prenatal services, and 59% said they did so for contraceptive services. However, although Planned Parenthood provides all of these services, the poll found that only 54% of respondents said they support federal funding if Planned Parenthood provided the services, while 26% said they oppose it.

The poll's findings show that conservative lawmakers' efforts to defund Planned Parenthood could be problematic in the 2016 presidential election. Only 34% of those who saw CPM's videos said their opinion of Planned Parenthood remained unchanged. When the videos were described to respondents, 34% said the group should continue to receive federal funds.

StemExpress, after facing harassment by antiabortion activists because of CPM's video, decided to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood. Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik noted, "Absolutely no evidence has been presented that Planned Parenthood has broken the law regarding the acquisition or distribution of fetal tissues." He concluded that, "Patients of all kinds are the losers, as is the respectability of our political process. ...Among the most disturbing aspects of this affair is its effect on the legal and often necessary use of fetal tissue in biological research," which is "needed in work toward cures of muscular dystrophy, diabetes, degenerative eye disease and other conditions." doclink

Art says: This survey raises the question whether more people would support federal funding for family planning so long as Planned Parenthood does not receive the funds. Since federal funds are not allowed for abortion services, the money Planned Parenthood uses to provide abortions must come from private donations. If Planned Parenthood encouraged another entity to assume responsibility for its non-abortion services, this survey suggests that more people would support a higher level of federal funding for the new provider. Presumably, Planned Parenthood would then go on providing the same level of abortion services using private funds as it now does.

Americans Still Back Family Planning Services at Planned Parenthood, New Poll Shows

   August 19, 2015, Slate   By: Amanda Marcotte

In a poll conducted by Reuters/IPSOS 54 percent of of Americans think the government should continue the current funding for contraception and other nonabortion services. Even when pollsters use the false accusations made in the videos in their questions, fewer than 40% of respondents were willing to agree with defunding the organization. doclink

Fertility Clinics Destroy Embryos All the Time. Why Aren't Conservatives After Them?

   August 14, 2015, Washington Post   By: Margo Kaplan

Many couples who use in vitro fertilization (IVF) produce more embryos than they can use. Many of these couples frequently donate an embryo they had conceived but didn't use to medical research in the hope that their choice will help doctors find cures for debilitating and fatal illnesses such as Huntington's disease and ALS.

Planned Parenthood, like many fertility clinics, allows women to donate to medical research tissue from an embryo or fetus they will not carry to term. Planned Parenthood receives no profit for this, only reimbursement for its costs.

But when there is an abortion involved, there is a striking difference.

In some states a woman seeking an abortion must receive state-directed counseling designed to discourage her from the procedure. She must then wait at least 24 hours until she can continue. In other states, women are forced to undergo unnecessary and invasive ultrasounds, watch or listen to a description of the ultrasound, and hear a lecture on how the embryo or fetus is a human life. Clinics in some states must provide them with medically inaccurate information on the risks of abortion. After all that, women often cannot have an abortion without waiting an additional one to three days, depending on the state.

In contrast, all couples donating embryos have to do is sign a form. There are no mandatory lectures on gestation, no requirement that they be explicitly told that personhood begins at conception, nor are they required to view a picture of a day-five embryo. There are no compulsory waiting period for them to reconsider their decision.

There are an estimated 400,000 to 1 million frozen embryos in the United States.

The ugly truth about abortion restrictions is that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women's bodies. They view contraception, like abortion, as a "license" to have non-procreative sex. If anti-choice lawmakers cared as much about protecting life as they did about women having sex, they could promote laws that prevent unwanted pregnancy.

IVF patients want to be a mother. Abortion, on the other hand, thwarts conservative ideals about a woman's proper role as a wife and mother.

It seems that anti-choice organizations are going after the more politically vulnerable group. IVF patients are richer and more often white while poor people have less access to affordable effective contraception and instead have to resort to abortion.

Cutting Planned Parenthood's funding would have no effect on abortion, which isn't funded by federal grants.

Republicans threaten to "use any and every procedural means" to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and the most vulnerable women are the ones who would to be hurt by it. doclink

EACH: Each Woman Act is a 'Game-Changer for Latinas' Seeking Abortion

   August 4, 2015, National Partnership for Women and Families

in a Politic365 opinion piece, Kimberly Inez McGuire, director of public affairs at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health writes that the EACH Woman Act would "stop politicians from interfering in healthcare decisions by making sure abortion is covered for all -- however much money make, whatever kind of health insurance have, and wherever live."... "Practically speaking, this means Medicaid will cover abortion, as it did in the years after Roe v Wade and before Representative Henry Hyde began his crusade against abortion rights in the late 1970s."

"Latinas played a crucial role in the introduction of groundbreaking new legislation" (HR 2972).

The Hyde Amendment has "pushed women seeking abortion into poverty, forced women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, and caused families to make impossible choices between paying for rent or groceries and paying for needed healthcare."

In addition, "The impact of the Hyde amendment has been made even worse by the passage of an avalanche of state-level restrictions on abortion." she said. "For large and growing Latina populations in Florida, Virginia, Texas, and elsewhere, these restrictions mean delays in accessing care, invasive and medically unnecessary procedures, and politicians stepping between women and their doctors."

Latina House representatives who have co-sponsored the measure include Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D- N.M.) and Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) She writes, "We stand with other women of color, young people, and low income communities in saying 'enough is enough'" and "demand change" doclink

Karen Gaia says: there are 91 co-sponsors for this bill.

U.S.: Catholic Nun Explains Pro-Life in a Way That Will Stun Many (Especially Republican Lawmakers)

   July 30, 2015, Daily Kos   By: Leslie Salzillo

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is." -- a quote form Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B., an author of 50 books and a lecturer.

This quote applies well to many Republican lawmakers who continue to introduce or pass misogynist laws restricting a woman's reproductive rights while they are cutting government programs like schools lunches for children, cutting aid to families who are homeless and/or in need, and blocking free college education. The goal of these hypocrites seem to be to control women's bodies and women's futures. doclink

Editorial: Birth Control, Sex Education Prevent Abortions Better Than Gotcha Videos

   July 28, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The late Dr. Alan Guttmacher, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America wrote "those who oppose and those who favor legalization of abortion share a common goal - the elimination of all abortion," through better, safer, cheaper contraception. ... "Each abortion bespeaks medical or social failure."

Serious opponents of abortion should be lined up to support birth control clinics. They should sponsor sex education programs. They should help mothers find work so they can feed and educate their children. They should do these things instead of trying to defund a nonprofit organization that provides services to women and poor people.

The two videos released by the Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood Drs. Deborah Nucatola in one video, and Mary Gatter in a second video, casually and bluntly discussing body parts over lunch. It is disturbing to people who are not doctors, but that's how doctors talk. In private, many medical professionals are not necessarily delicate about describing medical procedures. It is clear that the doctors in the videos think they are talking with people who aare fetal tissue buyers.

David Daleiden, founder of the California-based Center for Medical Progress, says the videos show the organization's plan to "sell baby parts." But the videos were heavily edited to distort and take out of context the language and tone used.

Planned Parenthood inflames least two political passions -- opposition to abortion and opposition to government programs for the poor.

There have been other lies. In 2011, then-Senate Republican whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said on the Senate floor that abortion constitutes "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." However abortions make up less than 3% of Planned Parenthood services.

Now there is a call in Congress for the organization should be defunded.

Donating fetal tissue is a life-saving effort and the women who choose to do so should be commended, not treated like they are participating in a criminal undertaking. Fetal tissue is used for medical research to help find treatments and cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. doclink

Abortions Declining in Nearly All States

   June 7, 2015, Washington Post   By: David Crary

Whether in states where abortions are difficult to get, or in states where abortion rights are protected, the number of abortions are down since 2010.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life suggested that the broad decrease in abortions reflected a change in attitudes among pregnant women. "There's an entire generation of women who saw a sonogram as their first baby picture," she said. "There's an increased awareness of the humanity of the baby before it is born."

The teen pregnancy rate in 2010 reached its lowest level in decades. The teen birth rate has also continued to drop.

A total of 267 abortion restrictions have been enacted in 31 states since 2011. Among them are measures that ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, impose hospital-like physical standards on abortion clinics, and require doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, according to Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute.

Abortions increased in only two states: Louisiana by 12% and Michigan by 18.5%. These two states have passed laws intended to restrict abortion. In both states, the increases were due in part to women coming from other states where new restrictions and clinic closures have sharply limited abortion access. Many Ohio women were going to Michigan and many Texas women to Louisiana.

A Michigan Planned Parenthood representative argued that one factor in Michigan's increase was inadequate public funding for family planning.

Hawaii saw the biggest percentage decrease - 30% - in abortion. A representative from Planned Parenthood in Hawaii, said more women there were getting access to health insurance and affordable contraception. She also credited the state's policies on sex education in public schools, which includes information to help teens avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Judy Tabar, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said the declines in Connecticut and Rhode Island were due in part to expanded access to long-lasting contraception methods that are now fully covered by health insurers under the federal Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion and other initiatives.

Planned Parenthood says its nationwide health centers report a 91% increase since 2009 in the use of IUDs and contraceptive implants.

"Better access to birth control and sex education are the biggest factors in reducing unintended pregnancies," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "More restrictive abortion laws do not reduce the need for abortions."

Advocates for abortion rights said the figures demonstrate that restrictive laws are not needed to reduce the number of abortions significantly. That can be achieved, they said, by helping more women obtain affordable, effective contraception, including long-lasting options such as IUDs and hormonal implants. doclink

Pro-Lifers Change Their Minds When Abortion Gets Personal

   May 19, 2015, Cut   By: Alex Ronan

Tennessee representative Scott DesJarlais opposes abortion, has run repeatedly as a pro-life candidate, and routinely votes in favor of restricting reproductive rights. In early May DesJarlais voted in favor of the 20-week abortion ban. Yet in 2012 a tape surfaced of a conversation DesJarlais had recorded between himself and his mistress back in 2000 where he pressured her to get an abortion. This raised a scandal which coincided with his reelection campaign. DesJarlais denied that there was a pregnancy.

A divorce trial transcript from 2001 demonstrated that DesJarlais had also supported his ex-wife's decision to get two abortions before their marriage. The first was a "therapeutic" abortion because she was on medication that could cause birth defects and retardation. The second was because "things were not going well between us" and the abortion was a "mutual decision."

Polls have shown repeatedly the same sort of dynamic, where people who identify as pro-life support abortion when it's discussed as an individual decision rather than an abstract judgment between right and wrong. When Jon Pennington interviewed people while working on his Ph.D. on the pro-life movement: a woman he interviewed said, "Most pro-life women oppose abortion with four exceptions: rape, incest, the life of the mother, and me." doclink

With House Passage of Extreme 20-week Abortion Ban, GOP Continues Assault on Reproductive Rights

   May 19, 2015, Democracy Now   By: Amy Goodman

Republicans continue to seek the erosion of reproductive rights with a series of measures at the federal and state level. Last week the Republican-controlled House approved a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. The vote came months after Republicans were forced to withdraw their initial version following dissent from women in their own party.

The new revised measure drops a requirement that rape and incest survivors who seek an exemption must first report to police. But it instead imposes a mandatory waiting period for such women of at least 48 hours before they can have an abortion. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the medically debunked contention that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

According to The New York Times, 11 states have passed at least 37 new anti-abortion laws in the first five months of this year. doclink

What Americans Think of Abortion

It's not so black and white
   April 8, 2015, VOX Media   By: Sarah Kliff

"Abortion is killing a baby. But I'm not saying it's always wrong," David King told Vox.

In a Vox poll of 1,067 adults randomly selected, 18% of Americans, pick "both" when you ask them to choose between pro-life and pro-choice. Another 21% choose neither. Taken together, about four in 10 Americans are eschewing the labels that we typically see as defining the abortion policy debate.

Abortion usually gets framed as a two-sided debate: as either pro-choice or pro-life. But people don't live in this world of absolutes. Abortion views are indeed strongly held, but what most discourse misses is the nuance - the personal factors and situations that influence how each individual thinks about the issue.

How you ask the question matters -- the pollsters asked one half whether they agreed with the statement "Abortion should be legal in almost all cases." The other half got a different wording of a similar idea: "Women should have a legal right to safe and accessible abortion in almost all cases."

Twenty-eight percent agreed with the first statement - and 37 percent with the second. That's a jump of nine percentage points in who thinks abortion ought to be generally legal, just by highlighting the fact that a woman is involved in the situation.

Why do opinions on such a controversial issue swing so significantly just based on the wording of a question?

The abortion debate isn't black and white -- it's thousands of different shades of gray that exist somewhere in the middle. This matters because by ignoring that gray space, we miss something important: there are abortion policies that a majority of Americans could agree on. Americans' opinions on abortion are surprising and nuanced.

King said "I think of myself as pro-choice in a way, because it's such a personal matter for each individual," he says.

Meghann August, a 31-year-old mother of one said "I guess if you're raped or in a desperate situation, then abortion would be the way to go," she says. "But if you're just being careless and irresponsible, then I don't think it's the right decision."

The poll found that those who had talked to a friend or family member about an abortion experience or decision tend to be more supportive of abortion rights.

Most Americans (70 percent) think women shouldn't have to travel more than 60 miles to obtain an abortion. These numbers are higher than those who support the Roe v. Wade decision (68 percent) and much higher than those who think abortion ought to be legal in most or some situations (46 percent). doclink

Karen Gaia: There is much more to this article. Please click on the link in the headline to read the complete article.

The Steep Human Cost of the Christian Right's Hostility Toward Science

Opposition to basic contraception leaves families vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and costs taxpayers millions
   February 20, 2015, Salon   By: Valerie Tarico, Alternet

In Colorado, a pilot program in Colorado which gave teens long acting contraceptives -- IUD's and implants; and which consequently resulted in a 40% drop teen births, along with a drop in abortions if threatened by some Colorado Republicans who are trying to kill it. The program saved the state $42.5 million a single year, over five times what it cost. These Republicans insist, wrongly, that IUD's work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred.

When women are able to delay, space, and limit childbearing, research has discovered the many benefits: healthier moms and babies, less infant mortality and special needs, more family prosperity, higher education, less domestic conflict and abuse, lower crime rates. Women (and men) become more productive, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Public budgets become easier to balance, and more revenues can be invested into infrastructure instead of basic needs.

Half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, with over a third of those ending in abortion. For single women under the age of 30, 70% of pregnancies are unintended. For teens it is more than 80%. Most of the problem is that many forms of birth control are prone to human error. 1 out of 11 couples relying on the Pill will end up with a surprise pregnancy, in any given year. For those using condoms alone, this rises to 1 out of 6!

With todays IUD's and implants the pregnancy rate is below 1 in 500 -- about the same level of protection as a tubal sterilization. When they are removed a prompt return to normal fertility is achieved.

Advocates for children like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and advocates for healthy families like the California Family Health Council and CDC are eager to see these top tier birth control methods become the new normal.

People who care about flourishing families, including those who see themselves compassionate conservatives, should be doing everything in their power to help facilitate a transition to these new technologies. These tools should be available to young and poor women, who (along with their children) are most likely to be harmed by an unexpected pregnancy.

But opponents to modern contraception -- led by conservative Catholics -- are wrongly claiming that contraceptives are like "having an abortion mill in your body." They further insist that each embryo is precious and merits the protections of "personhood." Fetal-rights advocates have repeatedly tried to pass legislation in Colorado that gives legal standing to fertilized eggs and later embryonic stages of life.

Pregnancy can be stopped at four points: 1. preventing the production of gametes (eggs and sperm), 2. blocking fertilization (conception), 3. preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, or 4. aborting an implanted pregnancy. Modern IUD's are designed to prevent fertilization:

A copper IUD is nonhormonal, and releases copper ions that interfere with sperm motility. The presence of copper may also change the surface of the egg so that it is less easily penetrated by a sperm. In addition, inflammatory cells evoked in the uterine cavity in response to the IUD kill sperm before they can ascend to the fallopian tubes, where fertilization occurs.

A hormonal IUD releases a mostly local dose of Levonorgestrel, a hormone in many birth control pills. It causes the mucus at the opening to the cervix to thicken so that sperm can't get through. Thus, this IUD can be considered a barrier contraceptive, like a cervical cap.

But on rare occasions, a sperm might swim past that mucus plug or -- despite the spermicidal effects of copper -- swim up the fallopian tube. Then the sperm and egg could unite. Then the IUD could interfere with implantation. Since fertilization with an IUD is rare, a fertilized egg failing to implant and flushing out is equally rare.

Now here is the twist: When a sexually active woman is not using contraception, her body has a 60-80% chance of flushing out a fertilized egg before she even knows she has conceived. In other words: women who are using contraceptives to prevent pregnancy kill fewer embryos (blastocyst) than women who are trying to get pregnant, and the more effective the contraception is, the fewer embryos (blastocyst) die. Note: a fertilized egg becomes a blastocyst, which is a ball of cells during the an early stage of human development. It is not an embryo until after implantation in the uterus.

Reproduction is like a big funnel: more eggs and sperm get produced than will ever meet. More eggs get fertilized than will ever implant. More fertilized eggs implant than will be carried to term by a female body. Genetic recombination is a highly imperfect process, and nature compensates by rejecting most fertilized eggs.

In some animals, the mother's body aborts or reabsorbs an embryo if her stress level is too high or her protein level is too low. Human bodies have the ability to decrease fertility and produce a spontaneous abortion under bad circumstances. This process is also imperfect. Perfectly healthy embryos flush out, while some with birth defects -- even horrible defects -- get through.

Since spontaneous abortion is a natural and common part of human reproduction -- one could say that every fertile woman has an abortion mill in her body. Because IUDs and implants are most effective at preventing fertilization, a woman who believes that embryonic life is precious, should use the most effective contraceptive available.

Given these realities, Colorado politicians who undermine access to state of the art contraceptives are neither minimizing embryonic death nor promoting family values. Their upside-down priorities illustrate how unquestionable, ideology-based beliefs coupled with motivated reasoning can lead even decent people to violate their own values, while still believing they are doing the right thing.

When women are forced to rely on less effective family planning methods, more spontaneous and therapeutic abortions result. So do more ill-timed and unhealthy births. More unhealthy infants suffer and die. A greater percent of children are born to single moms or unstable partnerships. Family conflict increases. More children suffer abuse or struggle with developmental disabilities. More families get mired in poverty. More youth engage in risky behavior, including early childbearing. Public costs associated with teen pregnancy, maternal health, special education, poverty and criminal justice swell. State budgets become more difficult to balance.

Colorado Representative Don Coram, fiscally conservative and opposed to abortion, co-sponsored a bill that would expand IUD access among low income women. "If you are against abortions and you are a fiscal conservative, you better take a long hard look at this bill because that accomplishes both of those," he said. Research with 10,000 women in St. Louis provides further confirmation that he is right. doclink

It's Only February and There Are Already 100 New Anti-Abortion Bills

   February 13, 2015, Jezebel   By: Natasha Vargas-Cooper

The number of new anti-abortion measures for 2015 has already reached 100. Many of these measures are based on pre-written drafts put together by well funded, national anti-abortion groups, like Americans United for Life and the Nation Right to Life Committee. "Having hundreds of pre-written bills on hand," Tara Culp-Ressler points out, "allows conservative lawmakers to submit a rash of legislation at the beginning of the session and see what manages to advance."

States include: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, Virginia, South Dakota, Washington, Missouri.


1. Banning women from buying optional abortion coverage through federally backed insurance plans.

2. Requiring mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion.

3. Forbidding women from receiving an abortion because her fetus has Down Syndrome.

4. Notify parents if a minor receives an abortion.

5. Make women watch an 'educational' video before receiving an abortion.

Even if these laws do not pass, and many certainly will, women and pro-choice lawmakers will have to work twice as hard just to keep their status quo. doclink

Colorado: Bill Would Fund IUDs

   February 2, 2015, Durango Herald   By: Peter Marcus

Republican Rep. Don Coram of Montrose is at odds with members of his own party after co-sponsoring a measure that would fund long-acting contraceptives for low-income women.

The measure, House Bill 1194, was introduced on Friday, despite cries that the legislation funds devices that induce abortion.

The issue has become a battle of science, with doctors arguing that there is little evidence to indicate that intrauterine devices, IUDs, cause abortion.

He said estimates indicate that a statewide program would save 4,300 abortions and tens-of-millions of public welfare dollars that are spent annually on teen and unwanted births.

Coram also spoke of the emotional and educational toll teen pregnancies can have, pointing out that by age 30, only 1.5% of teens who become pregnant obtain a school degree.

A long line of doctors are lining up to challenge the perspective that IUDs cause abortion. Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, pointed out that 99% of the time IUDs act as a hormonal barrier, making it unlikely that there would be implantation of a fertilized egg.

Coram's bipartisan legislation would provide $5 million from the state general fund to continue a program that health officials say lowered the teen birth rate in Colorado by 40%. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The IUD has been shown to cut the abortion rate. Legislators should do the math: drop the funding for IUDs and see more abortions, or fund the IUDs and subtract the 1% possible resulting abortions from the number of abortions that are prevented by the IUD.

Laws Promoting Preabortion Ultrasound Are Not Having the Emotional Impact on Women That Abortion Opponents Predicted

   December 18, 2014, International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health

A new study of 700 women examines the frequency with which women who received abortions were offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion, whether they chose to do so and what their emotional response was to viewing the image.

The belief that viewing an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion would dissuade women from terminating pregnancies has led to an abundance of state-level legislation regulating ultrasound provision for women seeking abortions.

48% of study participants were offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion, and 65% of those women (31% of all women) chose to do so. Among women who visited a facility with a policy requiring that they be offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound, 75% reported receiving this offer, and 34% chose to view the ultrasound. Among women who visited facilities that were subject to state laws with this requirement, 91% reported being offered the opportunity to view their ultrasound, and 44% chose to view the image. By comparison, 33% of women who were subject to neither a state nor a facility policy were offered the opportunity to view the ultrasound, and just 27% did so. Additionally, women who had never had children and black women were more likely to receive this offer than were women with children and white women, respectively.

Judging from the results the authors suggest that "offers" may be misconstrued by patients as "recommendations" that cannot be declined.

One week after their abortion, women most commonly described neutral or positive emotions. Of the 212 women who reported emotional responses, 77 reported feeling nothing or feeling fine, while 22 women said that they felt happy or excited after viewing the ultrasound, 15 felt comforted and 11 felt good. In contrast, 49 women reported feeling sad or depressed, 30 reported that viewing the ultrasound made them feel guilty about their decision, and 29 said that viewing the ultrasound made them feel upset or bad. Women who had never had children were more likely than others to express positive emotions in response to viewing the ultrasound. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The article did not specify at what stage in the pregnancy the participants had the abortion. This would make a difference, I would think.

Republicans Introduce Five Anti-Abortion Bills in First Days of New Congress

   December 8, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Laura Bassett

Emboldened by a new Senate majority, Republicans in Congress introduced five abortion restrictions in the first three days of the new legislative session that would severely limit women's access to the procedure.

Recently Republican Congressmen reintroduced a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards condemned the onslaught of anti-abortion bills on Thursday and the attack on her own organization.

"The public wants Congress to protect women's health, not interfere in women's personal medical decisions," she stated, "which means making sure all forms of birth control are affordable, women can get preventive care at Planned Parenthood and other trusted providers, and abortion remains safe and legal."
. . . more doclink

Personhood Amendments Would Hurt Families Who Want Children

   October 30, 2014, RH Reality Check   By: Keiko Zoll

On voting day, voters in Colorado and North Dakota will vote on amendments that would give legal rights to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses, also known as "personhood" laws. Measure 1 in North Dakota seeks to recognize and protect the "inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development" and Colorado's Amendment 67 would add "unborn human beings" to the state's criminal code.

While Personhood USA, which is backing Amendment 67, defines "personhood" as the "cultural and legal recognition of the equal and unalienable rights of human beings," there is no mistaking that the personhood movement is an attempt to undermine the legality of reproductive choice in America.

The author was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, which meant that the only way she could have children was in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs. After IVF and just before her embryo transfer, she was given a picture of two three-day-old, ten-cell blastocysts, one of which was to become her child. She wondered which of those two nearly transparent spheres became the charming, talkative toddler she now has.

"Even though I know that my son and one of those two balls of cells are the same, however, at no point when I look at that photo do I see a family portrait, much less a person. At that stage of human development, they were merely dividing tissue to me: They had no names, no genders, no sentience," she said. A personhood amendment would have made it much more difficult, if not impossible, for the as many as 7.4 million American women with infertility to create a family of their choice. In IVF, any excess embryos are often frozen and kept in cryopreserved storage until patients use them or discard them, since under personhood amendments, doctors would presumably have to treat all those embryos, or even the fertilized eggs, as if they had human rights.

Sean Tipton, chief advocacy and policy officer for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), said, "For physicians providing infertility care, the disconnect between the legal language and actual medicine is very dangerous. The reality is that most fertilized eggs will not develop into babies." .. "Will doctors be forced to transfer them into their female patients anyway? Do they provide the best care for their patient, or do they risk facing a homicide charge?". One to three is the recommended number of blastocysts to be transferred. These guidelines were set up to reduce the number of potentially dangerous multiple births resulting from IVF, including twins, triplets, quads, and higher-order multiples. These types of high-order pregnancies put the woman and the fetuses at risk for serious complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature birth, miscarriage, and even maternal death.

In the author's case, 20 eggs were fertilized with her husband's sperm. Six of those developed into embryos. Two embyos were inserted into the uterus, of which only one implanted.

Although Personhood USA claims that the amendments would not affect IVF, the very nature of the treatment means that some fertilized eggs or embryos are going to be discarded-which is blatantly at odds with the provisions outlined in personhood laws. doclink

Keren Gaia says: I picked this article because it points out how fragile a potential human being is in the early stages. One in three pregnancies (defined as beginning at implantation in the uterus) end in miscarriage. An unknown but much higher number of fertilized eggs never implant and are absorbed into the woman's body without anyone ever knowing about it.

California: Insurers Must Cover Elective Abortions

   August 23, 2014, ABCnews

State insurance officials have ruled that health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions.

Michelle Rouillard, the director of California's Department of Managed Health Care said that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all "medically necessary" care.

In contrast, the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage,

"Abortion is a basic health care service," Rouillard wrote. "All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally."

Last year two Catholic universities notified employees that they planned to stop paying for elective abortions, but said faculty and staff members could pay for supplemental coverage that would be provided through a third party. Roullaird said her department had "erroneously approved or did not object" to a small number of health insurance policies that excluded abortions. She asked the companies to review their plans to make sure they are in accordance with the new guidance.

Two groups that oppose abortion, the Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom, said that under federal law California cannot force employers to cover elective abortions and that they plan to file a civil rights complaint with the federal government unless the state's previous determination was reinstated. doclink

Fix the Helms Amendment

   June 17, 2014, Population Connection

The Helms Amendment bars the use of U.S. foreign aid for "abortion as a method of family planning." Although the law clearly indicates that funding is allowed under some circumstances, for decades our government has treated the amendment as a blanket ban. In fact, the law has been enforced so strictly that health care providers cannot use U.S. funds even to purchase equipment to treat women suffering the consequences of unsafe abortions. The end result is that women who have been raped and those whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies often find little help in clinics that receive U.S. funding. The Helms Amendment shows little concern for what women struggling with unwanted pregnancies in the developing world face.

In today's political climate we should not expect an outright repeal of the Helms Amendment, although it offers no benefit to foreign policy or global health. However, the Obama administration can clarify misinterpretations of the law without Congress having to change the law. Instead of a new law, he just needs to clarify what the current law actually says. President Obama has the authority to bring our overseas abortion policy in line with domestic abortion funding restrictions and with American public opinion. doclink

Florida Governor Signs Bill Further Restricting Later Abortions

   June 16, 2014, RH Reality Check and   By: Teddy Wilson

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law Friday that places additional restrictions on abortions performed in the third trimester, and bans abortions at any point in a pregnancy if a doctor determines the fetus could survive outside the pregnant person's body.

HB 1047 passed the state legislature mostly along party lines.

Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), said the law places unnecessary restrictions on women's access to later abortion care, without taking into consideration the woman's unique and complex circumstances. doclink

GOP Lawmaker's Bill Would Outlaw Abortion Before Some Women Know They're Pregnant

   June 13, 2014, Huffington Post   By: By Kate Abbey-lambertz

Introduced in the state House this week by Rep. Thomas Hooker (R-Byron Center) and more than a dozen cosponsors, HB 5643, 5644 and 5645 would require women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds and offer them the choice to hear evidence of their fetus' heartbeat, prohibit doctors from performing abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been found, and make violating that law a felony.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a heartbeat can be detected by vaginal ultrasound as soon as 6 weeks into pregnancy -- before some women know they are pregnant. That means that a woman could be banned from having an abortion before she knows she is pregnant and elects to have one.

In 2012, lawmakers passed legislation that requires screening for coercions and tighter regulations for abortion clinics. Last year, 22 states enacted 70 anti-abortion measures and the majority of women now live in states -- including Michigan -- that are hostile to abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that tracks abortion policy and advocates for sexual and reproductive health. "Abortion opponents have a long-term strategy to restrict abortion access in the states, which is reshaping the abortion policy landscape state by state," Guttmacher state issues manager Elizabeth Nash said in a statement. "There has been a widespread assault on abortion rights and access at the state level." doclink

30 Years is Enough: End the Global Gag Rule

   June 7, 2014, Population Action International


This U.S. Law Contributes to Women's Deaths Around the World

   May 26, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Alissa Scheller

The Helms Amendment, which passed in 1973 - more than 40 years ago, prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortion as "a method of family planning" or "to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." in 1994 Congress passed legislation to clarify that women in countries receiving aid could be counseled on all pregnancy options, including abortion. However, the Helms Amendment still inhibits funding to family planning agencies.

According to Al Jazeera, in Ethiopia, "a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied the abortion care that is legal in her own country, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care." More than 100 women die each day from complications of unsafe abortions. These deaths often occur in poor countries that receive aid from the U.S. for other medical treatments.

U.S. anti-abortion rules endanger women around the world. WHO studies show that where women can access safe abortions, fewer women have unsafe abortions, and a study in Nepal showed that legalizing abortion cut the maternal mortality rate in half. doclink

Abortion in the U.S. Has Become Concentrated Among Poor Women - Infographic

   September 18, 2013, Guttmacher Institute

Unintended pregnancy rates have increased among poor women while they have declined among higher-income women Source: Finer LB and Zolna MR, Unintended pregnancy in the United States: incidence and disparities, 2006, Contraception, 2011, 84(5):478-485..

42% of women having abortions have income levels below the federal poverty line Source: Jones RK, Finer LB and Singh S, Characteristics of U.S. abortion patients, 2008, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2010.

Compared with higher income women, poor women have unintended pregnancy rates 5X as high; abortion rates 5X as high and unplanned birth rates 6X as high Sources: Finer LB and Zolna MR, Unintended pregnancy in the United States: incidence and disparities, 2006, Contraception, 2011, 84(5):478-485; Jones RK and Kavanaugh ML, Changes in abortion rates between 2000 and 2008 and lifetime incidence of abortion, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2011, 117(6):1358-1366..

Seven in 10 women would have preferred to have their abortion earlier. Many women experience delays because they need time to raise the money. Source: Finer LB et al., Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States, Contraception, 2006, 74(4):334-344..

Delays=Higher Costs: travel costs, child care costs, lost wages from missed work Source: Finer LB et al., Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States, Contraception, 2006, 74(4):334-344..

Women report having to borrow money from friends & family and forgo paying rent, groceries & utilities to pay for their procedure. Source: Finer LB et al., Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States, Contraception, 2006, 74(4):334-344. doclink

There is No Magic Word: Why We Are and Must Remain 'Pro-Choice'

   April 25, 2013, Rh Reality Check

How can each of us - individually and as organizations - best use our knowledge, strengths, resources, and values to bring about change that makes women's reproductive autonomy a reality, especially at a time when state legislatures continue to break new records for the number of restrictions on reproductive health-care access are proposed or passed into law, when lawsuits against birth control coverage continue to trickle into the courts, when political candidates can't even get it right on rape and the White House has repeatedly used abortion and birth control as bargaining chips?

We need a movement that allows all organizations and individuals to identify as they see fit and truly put their passions to work on shared or complementary goals will thrive.

For example, in Florida, where women's organizations such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the League of Women Voters; religious organizations such as Catholics for Choice, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; and reproductive justice organizations such as the Miami International-Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (MI-LOLA) all worked to soundly defeat two ballot measures aimed at curtailing abortion access and real religious liberty.

Some advocates for reproductive health, rights, and justice say we must replace the concept of "choice" with "reproductive justice." Both choice and reproductive justice have a place in our battle for women's autonomy; one cannot take the place of the other.

Catholics are called by their faith to advocate for policies that protect and lift up all people, particularly the most marginalized and the poorest of the poor. It is these religious beliefs that compel us to recognize the dignity and rights of all people, who deserve respect and equal access to reproductive health care, no matter their race, color, class, or creed. Justice is already an inherent part of reproductive choice.

We realize, however, that the reproductive justice model does work for some groups to reach the constituencies that they must reach. American women of color first coined the term "reproductive justice" almost 20 years ago, in 1994 to address concerns that were not being addressed by some in the pro-choice movement. The organization SisterSong continues to highlight these concerns, and we are a stronger movement because of their efforts.

Unfortunately, some people have chosen to denigrate the language and framework of choice. Those who have dismissed choice have most often misrepresented it. We've long known that Americans have felt that pitting the two terms "choice" vs. "life" pitted against each other creates a false dichotomy, and that even those who consider themselves staunchly "pro-life" don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and do support abortion access at least some of the time.

Younger generations of women, and their daughters, will lose a great deal if we turn our back on the 'pro-choice label.'" Young people are the ones most often out canvassing, working phone banks, staffing, and leading our organizations, and they are more supportive of reproductive rights than other generations. They are the ones who are of reproductive age.

The concept of reproductive justice itself is right for some organizations, we cannot afford to be Pollyannaish in assuming it is right for everybody.

It is a good thing when there are experts in different fields, when there are individuals working on separate issues who recognize and spread the word about each other's work, who celebrate each other's achievements, and who understand how they complement each other's goals.

We are all painfully aware that the political power of the Catholic hierarchy has long been one of the greatest obstacles to access to abortion, especially for poor women, here in the United States and around the world. We believe Catholics for Choice must confront this opposition and represent the majority Catholic opinion.

With so many issues and agendas to push, something has to give. All too often it is abortion. Whether this happens because the subject entails taking the risk of pushing politicians who are good on other issues; or because if we include abortion, we won't get healthcare reform; or because even among ourselves we can't agree that women should be able to access abortion when they need it, clear, outspoken advocacy for abortion is increasingly pushed to the back burner. If our organizations, of all groups, are not the ones speaking out most consistently and strongly in support of abortion access, we know that no one else will. And we know that women will be the losers, especially marginalized and vulnerable women who most need strong advocates. Failing to address abortion as part and parcel of women's lives further stigmatizes it and the women who have abortions.

Steering us toward a party platform only serves to narrow our base. We should remember that we have Democrats to thank for both the Hyde and Stupak amendments' creation and continuation, and we can't forget that a prominent Democrat handed over D.C.'s public funding of abortion for poor women in order to make a budget deal. We need to widen our constituency to include all those who support access to reproductive health-care services, not just those who toe a particular party line.

As Katha Pollitt wrote earlier this year, "'pro-choice' means you believe that whether or not a woman keeps a pregnancy is up to her-the position most Americans say they support when asked about Roe."

We believe in choice because it is centered in personal autonomy. The reproductive justice framework asks us to see these women as individuals who cannot make their own decisions about what they want and need because they face obstacles in carrying out those decisions.

This does not mean we ignore the very real issues of access to resources, services, or the inequalities caused by socio-economic conditions and the need for structural change. It does not mean that we ignore the impact of race or class. It is as true for economically disadvantaged women and women of colour as it is for WASP university graduates. It is as true for women in Pakistan as it is in Britain. Claiming that choice "does not matter," implies women have no interest in making these moral choices for themselves, and perhaps no capacity to do so. This is both patronising and degrading.

Our free will, our God-given ability to decide what to do at any given time based on what we believe is right or wrong cannot be taken from us.

The decision to become or stay pregnant rests with a woman and her conscience. Choice recognizes that the ability to make that decision should not be determined by economic, social, or political factors, but by what each woman believes is right for herself and her circumstances. No matter what she decides, she should be able to do so safely, with dignity, and without having to circumvent unnecessary obstacles, coercion, or stigmatization. doclink

U.S.: The One Woman Screwing Up North Dakota's Plan to End Abortion

   March 29, 2013, Daily Beast

One of the three bills signed by Gov. Jack Dalyrmple, the North Dakota governor, this week will abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy - at the first detection of a fetal heartbeat. This is against Roe vs Wade which allows abortions until a fetus is viable outside the womb, around 24 weeks. Another law requires doctors who perform abortions in the state to get admitting privileges at a local hospital, and a third bans abortions for reasons including gender preferences or genetic defects, an unprecedented law in the U.S.

When the governor signed the bills, knowing that there would be a court challenge, said that the state would need to set aside money to fight. The money would be better used to fund programs such as Women Infants and Children's, that provide food to the underprivileged children.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Valley Women's Clinic, the only abortion-performing clinic in North Dakota, is convinced the "heartbeat bill," as it's known, is "blatantly unconstitutional" and won't survive the scrutiny of federal courts.

Representatives of the National Center for Reproductive Rights have assured her they will pay to take the case to court, she said. The gender preferences and genetic defects law wouldn't have much of a practical impact, because no one has ever come into her clinic wanting to terminate a pregnancy simply because it's a boy or girl, and by the time most genetic abnormalities are discovered, the fetus is too far along to be aborted at Red River, which will abort up until 16 weeks.

One client who had an abortion at Red River told of how, 11 years ago, just after she turned 21, she made an appointment, pushed past the protestors assuring her god would take care of the baby, walked up the stairs and had an abortion. "I'd be living in a trailer in Jamestown, North Dakota, with a guy who didn't have a job and liked to beat the shit out of me," she said. "It wouldn't have been a good situation for anybody. I probably should feel bad, but I don't. My life turned out great." A year later, she met her future husband, they quickly (and accidentally) had their first of two children, and are happily married still.

One woman said, "Closing the clinic isn't going to stop abortions. It's going to stop safe abortions. That's scary."

Former clients and people from all across the world have reached out to Kromenaker in recent days, she said, flooding her telephone lines and email inbox with offers of support and donations -$10,000 in the past three days. doclink

U.S.: Today's Abortion Debate on Bill Moyers

   January 25, 2013, Moyers & Company

It has been 40 years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision overturned many federal and state restrictions on a woman's right to an abortion. Before that a woman could be forced by the police powers of the state to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Before Roe V. Wade, Walter Cronkrite on CBS Evening News said "The illegal termination of pregnancy has reached epidemic proportions in this country. The laws which govern abortion are broken an estimated one million times a year, three thousand times a day, for various medical, social and economic reasons the laws do not recognize as valid. The conflict between the law and reality has resulted in a national dilemma."

Cronkite continued: "This married couple felt that they would be unable to adequately raise another child. The wife was criminally aborted in a motel on the west coast." She said: "The operation was performed in the kitchen of the motel using some of the kitchen equipment, using a telephone book, chairs and so forth. About halfway through he turned to my husband and said, "How can you expect me to take dangers like this myself for such a low fee? Don't you have some savings that you could utilize and pay me more money?" The husband said: "He said he wanted twice as much. ... It wasn't clear that he would go ahead and finish the operation if I didn't pay him the extra money, but I didn't, at that time, want to argue or even, of course, delay the procedure."

MOYERS: Roe v. Wade only intensified the debate. And forty years later, the forces opposed to abortion - still driven largely by conservative religious beliefs and activists - have never given up. State by state, they have been winning their fight for new restrictions.

The Guttmacher Institute says that "More than half of all U.S. women of reproductive age... now live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights, whereas fewer than one-third did a decade ago." A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that seven in ten Americans think the Roe v. Wade decision should stand. And for the first time ever, a majority believes abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

LYNE PALTROW, Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women -- formerly a senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, and author of a study in the American Journal of Public Health, "Roe v Wade and the New Jane Crow":

"When abortion is criminalized ..., when abortion providers aren't available, many women will do what they have to do to take control of and responsibility for their reproductive lives. And if that means ending a pregnancy in any way they know how. That might be taking a poison, it might be using a knitting needle, it might be leaving the country, it might be asking somebody to beat them up."

"And if you have a legal system that says the state may prevent you from making key decisions about your health, your life, and your family, then you are really in some other status of personhood. And so for some women, historically, their ability to be full and equal participants in society really depended on whether they could end a pregnancy. And that was the thing that would keep them from finishing college, having access to all of the things that they might have access to, participation in society."

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health -- also Adjunct Professor of Latino and Latin American Studies at the City University of New York:

"Our slogan is "Health, dignity, and justice." And when you think about compulsory pregnancies, it's taking away health, dignity, and justice from a woman." "Many of the women, the Latinas that we work with" have had an abortion. 'They perhaps can't afford a second child, they want to go to school, they might be at a point in their career." .. "It's really important that women that we work with, mostly Latina, immigrant, women of color, those are the margins, low income, are able to access their rights in a way without barriers and further bureaucratic obstacles to get the care that they need."

LYNN PALTROW: There "was a point in which there was a great deal of immigration, where native white birth rates were falling, and there was the first beginning of the suffrage and feminist movement, arguing that women .. women should have a say in whether they have intercourse with their husbands. And the people who were asking legislature to criminalize abortion were arguing that that had to be done to keep women in their place, to ensure that native white birth rates continued to grow and to maintain control over women. And it's as if we're in that moment again, ... an America in which it is no longer going to be a white majority, in which it feels like white birth rates are falling, and you see people turn to religion and you see people turn to very old notions about how society should be.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "For us in the Latino community, we know that many of us are Catholic or religious. And we find that it's so out of step with the realities of women's lives today. And many Latinas, in fact 90 percent of married Catholic Latinas use a form of birth control that's banned by the Vatican."

LYNN PALTROW told of a campaign by NARAL to collect letters from people, men and women, describing why they had had an abortion, or somebody they knew had an abortion. They said things like "I needed to finish my education." "I had a child with a disability. I wanted to be able to be home and take care of that child and my husband was going to Vietnam, my father-in-law was sick." "They were talking about basic, you know, human relationships and responsibility."

When Roe v. Wade came down, it was "not understood as an affirmation of women's personhood," .. "But almost overnight, the public health situation dramatically improved, not only because women had access to legal abortion, but they didn't have to carry to term pregnancies when they weren't healthy. And so it was a dramatic change in the practicality. But what we're still very much fighting is an understanding and a respect for the fact that women, whatever their decisions are during pregnancy, remain full persons under the law."

MOYERS: "Time Magazine" reported: "Getting an abortion in America is in some places, harder today than at any point since it became a constitutionally-protected right 40 years ago..."

LYNN PALTROW: "I think something like more than 90 percent of all counties don't have abortion providers. I want to point out that most probably that many counties also don't have birthing centers, where women can go and have an alternative to an over-medicalized birth."

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "So when you're targeting clinics that provide abortion care, those clinics are also providing prenatal care, they're providing cervical cancer screenings, they're providing breast screenings, and sexuality education."

" I think of Rosa Jiménez, who was a 27-year-old college student. She had a five-year-old daughter. She was getting a nursing degree. She really wanted to, you know, succeed in this country. And she faced an unintended pregnancy."

"And because she was low income, because she was a recipient of Medicaid, she was denied access to an abortion because of the Henry Hyde. And she sought a back-alley abortion and died as a consequence. ... She was the first known victim of the Hyde Amendment."

MOYERS: The Guttmacher Institute reports that "among poor women, the rate of unintended pregnancy is five times higher than for higher income women. And four in ten women who have abortions are poor."

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "97 percent of sexually-experienced Latinas have used a form of contraception, but consistent use has been a problem. So that's when they fall under an unintended pregnancy situation. ... So where some of them are able and successful to get the abortions, there's also so many unintended pregnancies that go term because of these policies."

LYNN PALTROW: "it looks like they're just defending some notion of life for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, something that seems very abstract and beautiful to many people, without really exposing what they're really doing, which is creating the basis for removing pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons, for jeopardizing maternal, fetal, and child health, and creating what we're really seeing as a new Jane Crow." ... "We have seen that women are being arrested, detained, forcibly subjected to medical intervention disproportionately so, African American women, disproportionately in the South. And again, it's not, it's about, under the guise of being just about abortion. It's really about creating a set of precedents that would allow the state to control, surveil, and punish a woman from the moment she conceives."

"Sixty-one to 70 percent of all women who have abortions are already mothers. So the women that they're calling murderers, who they're comparing their collective actions to a genocide or a holocaust, are the women they're entrusting to raise their children, to raise our children, the next generation of taxpayers, and with very little support, with little healthcare, with little economic security."

MOYERS: "Alabama, the State Supreme Court in Alabama has interpreted the term "child" to apply to fertilized eggs and embryos. Which means, doesn't it, that women can be prosecuted for endangering the fetuses?"

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "in the Rio Grande Valley, which borders Mexico, ... I was there a couple months ago when they said they drove 45 minutes to a local clinic to get birth control, and they were turned away because the cuts dissipated those programs. And we're hearing story after story, and we recently did a human rights report in Texas where we heard one woman swim back to Mexico, cross the Rio Grande Valley, risk separation from her family, because she was not getting basic healthcare."

"Reproductive justice really broadens the movement to incorporate things like socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity. It's really inclusive and much more holistic than looking to protect just the narrow, legal right to abortion. .. And that really resonates with young people."

LYNN PALTROW: "If you pass a law that says" that a pregnant woman seeking an abortion has to have a transvaginal ultrasound, "that's a precedent for saying, 'As a pregnant woman, you lose your right to consent to what medical tests you're going to be subjected to.' "

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: "a woman spends about 30 years trying not to get pregnant, and then about five years, for those who want to have a family, trying to get pregnant. And that's a big chunk of someone's life. So ensuring that they have access to the care that they need at every stage is so critical."

LYNN PALTROW: "84 percent of all women, by the time they're 40, have gotten pregnant and given birth. This is 84 percent of the political base. And their experiences aren't just about having an abortion. They're about having a baby. And having a good kind of birth and a bad kind of birth." doclink

After Tiller: 40 Years Since Roe V. Wade, Abortion Providers Continue Work of Slain Kansas Doctor

   January 24, 2013, Democracy Now

Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion, the new documentary "After Tiller" follows the only four doctors left in the United States who are known to provide abortions in the third trimester. In 2009, their colleague, Dr. George Tiller, was assassinated while attending church in Wichita, Kansas. The four doctors depicted in the film have also braved threats, harassment and the emotional weight of the stories they hear to provide women with a desperately needed medical procedure.

A transcript is available at doclink

U.S.: Planned Parenthood Bill Blocked in Ohio Senate

   November 28, 2012, Toledo Blade   By: JIM PROVANCE

In Ohio, the Senate failed to bring measures to the floor that would cut, if not eliminate, family-planning funding for Planned Parenthood and all but outlaw abortions in Ohio. This means the bills would die with the close of the two-year session in mid-December and would have to start the legislative process over next year.

"I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that's done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe they offer much-needed services that are not available other places," said Senate President Tom Niehaus (R., New Richmond). "I chose not to take the bill up in lame-duck."

The House committee had voted two weeks ago to send House Bill 298 to the full House. House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R., Medina) questioned whether to go forward with a House vote if the Senate would not take it up.

The bill would have placed Planned Parenthood's 32 Ohio clinics last in line for funds behind government entities, federally qualified health centers, Community Action Agencies, hospitals, and private practices that offer comprehensive primary and preventative health care in addition to family planning services.

Planned Parenthood could have lost up to $1.7 million in state-administered federal aid as a result.

The so-called Heartbeat Bill, House Bill 125, will also die in the Senate. "If you look at past experience, this is the most pro-life Senate that we've had in the General Assembly," Mr. Niehaus said. But he questioned the slow speed at which proponents of the bill have offered compromises. "I still have constitutional concerns," Niehaus said.

The bill would require a doctor to test for a fetal heartbeat and would prohibit an abortion if one is detected. A heartbeat could be detectable as early as six weeks after conception.

Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon), the sponsor of the Heartbeat Bill said he hasn't given up on a Senate vote on the Heartbeat Bill. The bill's supporters contend that presence of a heartbeat is the best indicator that a fetus is likely to be carried to full term. They hope the bill it would give the U.S. Supreme Court an excuse to reverse its 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that extended a woman's right to privacy to decisions pertaining to abortion.

The bill would effectively outlaw abortions in most cases in Ohio, particularly if a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant until after the heartbeat is detectable.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said: "Make no mistake about it, the threat to women's health may be delayed, but it remains," ... "We fully expect anti-choice forces to reintroduce these dangerous attacks on women's health when the legislature reconvenes in January." doclink

U.S.: Pro-Life Activists Conveniently Ignore the Abortion Drop

   November 27, 2012   By: Amy Sullivan

The U.S. abortion rate fell 5% in 2009 (the most recent period for which statistics are available.), the largest single-year drop in a decade, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While it may seem that the decline is caused by increased abortion restrictions and access at the state level, the trend matches a similar decline in pregnancies, with the U.S. teen pregnancy rate at its lowest level in 40 years -- a consequence of teenagers having less sex and using contraception when they do.

Improved use of and access to contraception results in lower pregnancy rates and therefore lower abortion rates.

You would think that both those who oppose abortion and those who want women to have more control over their reproductive abilities would welcome this news. But the anti-abortion activists seem to be ignoring the falling abortion rate and focusing on the fact that deaths from abortions have doubled. That would be alarming until you realized that abortion-related deaths rose from six women to twelve women. While those deaths should not be minimized, it is puzzling that the Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest asks "We have to ask why the abortion-related deaths of twelve women are buried in the very last table of the report and unremarked on in the news. The news from this report is that abortion harms women, as well as their babies."

Most media outlets probably choose not to focus on the dozen abortion-related deaths reported by the CDC because pregnancy itself remains vastly more dangerous for women than abortion. In 2006-2007 -- the last period for which data are available -- the CDC found 1,294 pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. Over the past decade, the number of abortion-related deaths has ranged from six to ten -- out of approximately 1.2 million abortions -- each year, according to CDC reports.

Causes of pregnancy-related deaths are hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, amniotic fluid embolism, hemorrhage, and sepsis, among others. Last month a woman died in Ireland after medical staff refused to induce (which would have caused an abortion) her even though she was miscarrying and went into septic shock.

The way to prevent abortion-related deaths isn't to outlaw abortion -- doctors who treated the mangled bodies of women who endured illegal abortions prior to 1973 can testify to that reality.

It used to be that abortions, after they were legalized, were performed in medical facilities by doctors well-trained in the procedures. But violence and intimidation from extreme anti-abortion forces drove abortion from hospitals to clinics and led the majority of medical schools to drop abortion training from their OB-GYN residency programs. doclink

U.S.: Heartbeat: My Involuntary Miscarriage and 'Voluntary Abortion' in Ohio

   November 1, 2012, Huffington Post   By: Tamara Mann

This article is a very personal, wrenching account. To get the full impact, I recommend you click on the link in the headline.

To summarize, an ultrasound revealed that the author's fetus was badly deformed and was 'not compatible with life'. She lived in the state of Ohio. Although at first, the idea of having her baby, her fetus, removed while its heart was still beating was simply unbearable. Her friend, an Orthodox rabbi, said the case was clear. In situations where the mother's health is at risk and the fetus (he explicitly said fetus) is not viable, Jewish law errs on the side of the mother's health.

However, because the baby had a heartbeat, the insurance company, being in Ohio, would not cover the costs of the operation. After days of calling people, and with the help of a doctor who wrote a well-worded letter, the insurance company found that it could cover the procedure. Then she was told that, in Ohio, a physician must meet with the pregnant woman 24 hours before the operation to explain the procedure, give the state sponsored materials on alternatives to abortion and receive a signed form stating that the pregnant woman "consents to the particular abortion voluntarily, knowingly, intelligently, and without coercion by any person...." Her case did not meet the "medical necessity" exceptions to this ruling, because there was still a heartbeat. The baby's heart had stopped beating, however, before it was removed from her body. doclink

Abortion: the Civilised Solution

   October 11, 2012

As abortion hits UK headlines with calls to cut the time limit again, Dr Ellie Lee sets the record straight on what should be a personal choice for women and doctors, not a legal matter, not a matter for science or MP predilections and posturing. This timely 'on the sofa' discussion is a must for everyone concerned with where this debate is heading. In a civilised society Dr Lee explains, we need to make it possible for everyone to act according to their needs and views. In practice she argues this requires the decriminalisation of abortion and she tells us, the Sarah Catt case provides a cast iron argument for that. Not everyone will agree the stage at which life matters she points out and not everyone on the sofa agrees with Dr Lee. Yet, her compelling insights leave us in no doubt that her approach would make it possible to cater for women's needs and doctors' preferences without imposing on anyone. 46 minutes discussion which covers the abortion debate in depth. Heading the discussion, Dr Ellie Lee makes a compelling case for the decriminalisation of abortion. Widely divergent views on when life matters cannot be solved by science, or the personal predilections of MPs but can be accommodated if it is made a matter of personal choice for the women concerned and doctors who provide abortion services. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I found this discussion most interesting, provocative, and the video well worth watching. I agree with Dr. Lee that it should be solely up to the woman if and when to terminate her pregnancy, even up until birth. The founder of Libertarianism, Ayn Rand said: "An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn). Abortion is a moral right -- which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?" I also agree with Dr. Lee that few women take lightly the decision to have an abortion. No woman, when she has sex, sets out to have an abortion. I do NOT agree with Dr. Lee when she talks about what is commonly referred to

U.S.: Jon O'brien on Speaking Up for Pro-Choice Catholics

   August 24, 2012, Washington Times

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, shares his thoughts.

The bishops say Catholics must reject any attempt by the government to require contraception coverage, but their perspective leaves out the 98% of sexually active Catholic women who have used a form of modern contraception, as well as the workers of other faiths or no faiths at Catholic institutions. All of these individuals deserve the chance to follow their consciences on whether or not to use birth control. No-cost coverage for contraception is especially important for lower- income workers-exactly the people our Catholic social justice commitment enjoins us to help. Polling data has shown that nearly two-thirds of Catholics believe insurance plans, both private and government-run, should cover contraception.

Religious liberty is the freedom to believe as one chooses and the freedom from living according to others' beliefs. It would be a shame to throw away the very American ideal of true religious liberty just to appease a few disgruntled clerics who think the rules shouldn't apply to them.

Since 1972, the presidential candidate that won the most Catholic votes has also won the most votes nationwide. The economy, jobs and immigration trumped abortion and same-sex marriage in a 2010 Pew Research Center poll of Catholic voters.

Catholics support a woman's right to choose because fundamentally we recognize the importance of social justice. Social justice is especially relevant to those who find themselves in difficult times and facing difficult choices. Freedom of conscience tells us that you can make this difficult choice about abortion and remain a Catholic in good standing.

When we see a woman in need of an abortion, we know that she is worthy of our support and respect. There is no debate about whether a woman is a person, a moral agent. Women must be allowed and encouraged to make the decision that is right for them, whether that is to become pregnant or to remain pregnant. They are the only ones who can make the right decision for themselves. This is the very essence of what it means to be prochoice. And no government or church should make that choice for you.

In the United States, 86% of Catholics approve of abortion when a woman's health is seriously endangered, and 78% think it should be possible for a woman to obtain an abortion when a pregnancy is the result of rape. A poll of almost 1,000 Catholics found that only 14% agree with the Vatican's position that abortion should be illegal.

Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as do other women: 28% of women who had an abortion self-identified as Catholic, while 27% of all women of reproductive age identified as such.

A February 2012 survey from the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland found that 75% of Irish Catholics believe the Catholic church's teachings on sexuality are not relevant to them or their families.

In Spain, where approximately 75% of the population identifies as Catholic, a 2012 poll revealed that 77.2% of the women questioned had used contraception in the four weeks prior to the poll.

In 2011, Catholics for Choice commissioned a survey in Argentina, which found that Catholics are more supportive of legal abortion than non-Catholics. In cases of rape, 84% of Catholics believe that abortion should be legally available, compared to 69% of non-Catholics. doclink

U.S.: Virginia House Scraps Invasive Pre-abortion Requirement

   February 23, 2012, Associated Press

A bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo a vaginal insertion of a wand-like device that emits ultrasonic waves that are used to create images of the fetus, has been dropped. The proposal had drawn outrage from women, national ridicule from television comedians and appeals from GOP moderates, causing Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell to oppose the invasive procedure and the Republican-controlled House of Delegates to amend the to require only an external ultrasound.

McDonnell has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate. "Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," he said.

The amended bill now returns to the Senate where its sponsor, Sen. Jill Vogel, said she will strike the legislation.

Another bill would give embryos the full legal protection of personhood and criminalize their destruction, outlawing almost all abortions and, critics say, some forms of contraception. It would take effect only if the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortions is overturned.

A third bill would end state Medicaid funding for abortions sought by indigent women whose fetuses are severely and grossly deformed.

On Presidents Day, about 1,400 people, most of them women, linked arms to form a silent human cordon along the Capitol Square walkways that legislators use between the Capitol and their legislative offices. Some demonstrators wore shirts and stickers that derided the bill as state-mandated rape. McDonnell was presented with petitions collected statewide bearing the names of 30,030 voters against the bill. doclink

U.S.: Legal Induced Abortions Safer Than Childbirth, New Study Finds

   January 26, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

A study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that maternal deaths from childbirth are 14 times higher than deaths from legal induced abortions in the United States - 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions, compared to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. Pregnancy-related complications and illness are also much more common for childbirth than for abortion, it said.

"Since the early 1970s, the public health evidence has been clear and incontrovertible: induced abortion is safer than childbirth," noted the co-authors Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond of the Gynuity Health Projects and Dr. David A. Grimes of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Roughly half of the states have laws requiring that women seeking abortions must be given detailed, specific written or verbal information about potential risks from the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute. For example women seeking abortions in Texas must be given a 23-page pamphlet listing 11 or 12 potential complications from abortion procedures and only six possible complications from vaginal delivery and eight for cesarean sections. Some of the statistics are often expressed in terms that are difficult to understand when they should be expressed in comparisons of deaths per 100,000 events.

Such biased mandated material thwarts informed choice and puts clinicians in the untenable position of having to be complicit in misleading their patients. "Every woman deserves factual medical information whenever she is facing a decision about a pregnancy," the authors said.

Reasons given for the difference: Pregnancies ending in abortion are shorter than those ending in childbirth, so there is less time for complications to develop. Many complications like hypertension and abnormal placentas show up only late in pregnancy, and early abortion avoids those hazards. A third of births occur by cesarean delivery, which has substantial risk of complications and death.

In fact, the authors said women who undergo abortion appear to be at higher risk from problems in pregnancy and childbirth than women who opt for delivery. doclink

U.S.: Debate Boils Over African-American Abortions

   July 18, 2011, NPR

Michel Martin, host of TELL ME MORE from NPR News, interviewed Ryan Bomberger, co-founder of the Radiance Foundation which has the Too Many Aborted campaign, and the Reverend Carlton Veazey, president and CEO of the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice, to talk about about a subject which has become very controversial: abortion within the African-American community.

In recent months, several anti-abortion advocacy groups have placed billboards in major cities around the country, decrying the abortion rate among African-Americans. The placards feature provocative slogans such as: The 13th Amendment freed us. Abortion enslaves us. Or: Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted. And that features a picture of President Obama.

While black women make up about 13% of the U.S. female population, they account for 30% of abortions performed in the U.S. , according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The Radiance Foundation's launched the campaign to highlight the disproportionate impact of abortion in the black community where the abortion rate is five times that of the majority population. Bomberger said he was adopted in a family of 15. He's also an adoptive father. He wants to look at life affirming alternatives to the destruction that abortion brings.

He said "it doesn't matter what the pro-life messaging is, it is always going to be denounced by pro-abortion groups who use the euphemisms of a reproductive choice." ... "It's like calling slavery economic justice." "And it all ties to historical initiative launched by Planned Parenthood that has never ended. The Negro Project back in 1939."

Martin said: "it is true that there were projects aimed at encouraging contraceptive use among African-Americans, but I don't know that there's any data to show that abortion was a part of that conversation. In fact, there's also documented evidence that Margaret Sanger abhorred abortion herself."

And Bomberger replied: "I'm not saying about abortion. Birth control, to severely reduce or eliminate the reproduction of poor blacks." ... "Abortion has become today's contraception."

Veazey: "Mr. Bomberger does not understand that when you talk about black community and saying that Planned Parenthood places clinics in those areas, you got to understand also that Planned Parenthood also they are not involved just in the clinic in terms of providing procedure, they also deal with STDs, they deal with cancer screening, they deal with other health issues. And these clinics are placed in the poverty-stricken areas where they can be of more help to black women and black young people."

"Black leaders deplore what he is doing and what the foundation is doing. " ... "You have to understand in terms of statistics is that these are unintended pregnancies. And why is that? Because of lack of health care, lack of the opportunity to provide adequate contraception."

"These are the reasons why that statistic may be high." I come from the South and" was "raised during the '30s and '40s and I know what it was like for poor women and black women. They had back-alley abortions. They suffered from gross infection and hemorrhages and died in alleys."

"The grand strategy is simply to create the groundswell so that when this issue comes before the court, they can get a reverse on Roe v. Wade."

Bomberger: "How is it that the same people that can find these clinics to have an abortion can't find the same clinics for contraception? There are over 1,700 clinics around the United States that provide the same reproductive health care as Planned Parenthood. They just don't abort children."

Martin: You just don't agree with the idea that people have abortions because they don't have viable other alternatives - is that your - you just don't buy that.

Veazy: Women are moral agents and "have the ability to make the decision about their lives. " .. "Our first mission statement" ..., "was to ensure women's right to determine when or whether to have children according to her own conscience and religious beliefs without governmental interference."

Boomberger: "When you look at Planned Parenthood and why it exists - a one billion dollar a year industry with a one billion dollar budget, one billion dollars in assets, it's all about money."

Veazey: "The religious right and all those who are against abortion" .. "wait until the child, not a fetus, the child gets here and they abort them through lack of health care. They abort them through lack of education. And you can see it in every major city." ... "And that ad about Obama being the next person could have been an Obama, you've aborted through your lack of concern for the social issues, you've aborted a lot of children that could have been an Obama." doclink

A Ruse: Blaming Abortion for Disappearing Girls

   June 30, 2011, Salon

Mara Hvistendahl wrote a book titled "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men." This is a summary of her response to Ross Douthat's New York Times column about the implications of her book.

In a 1994 article for the journal First Things, Amherst College political scientist Hadley P. Arkes outlined a calculated plan for the antiabortion movement. First they would seek to preserve the life of the child who survives the abortion, then they would go on to restrict abortions after the point of 'viability,' or ban those abortions ordered up simply because the child happens to be a female, with an "ultimate end": banning all abortions. 17 years later his strategy has taken hold.

Opposing sex-selective abortion was a tactical maneuver, not a feminist act. Now antiabortion legislators are using the prevalence of sex selection in Asia to justify restrictions on abortion in the United States.

Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Arizona have already banned sex-selective abortion while Massachusetts, Rhode Island, West Virginia, New York and New Jersey have proposed bans.

These bills are filled with language intended to set a precedent for declaring a fetus equivalent to a life.

Hvistendahl says that in her book she made it clear that the victims were women who were used as pawns to reduce their birth rates, women who aborted female fetuses in a patriarchical setting, and women who, now that they are scarce, find themselves at greater risk of being trafficked, kidnapped, or sold by their parents to men desperate to find wives.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has turned this around to suggest that victim might be the fetus.

Sex-selective abortion is wrong because women should account for half of the human population, and in parts of the world they now account for far less. That alone justifies moral outrage. doclink

Karen Gaia says: What the conservative lawmakers are doing is a ruse. The ratio of male to female births has not changed, which shows that Americans to not practice sex-selective abortions, so there is not need for such laws. Also, many countries where the practice is more prevalent, have outlawed the practice.

U.S.: Religious Voices Support Access to Abortion

   June 30, 2011, The Hill

Capitol Hill should be a reflection of the needs and values of all Americans -- not just those with the loudest voices or the strongest lobby. Often, religious voices are used to impose or support the most conservative policies, despite the diversity that exists among people of faith.

The Catholic Declaration on Religious Freedom declares "the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom." Though we come from different backgrounds, all of us share the belief that women should have the right to make their own choice about abortion, in particular, and reproductive health choices in general.

These choices are under fire in Congress. Even though Catholics disagree fundamentally with positions that the bishops have taken on these matters, the U.S. bishops have been the greatest obstacle to women exercising these choices.

For Catholics, the preferential option for the poor calls us to protect the least among us. The 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act' (S. 906/H.R. 3) would permanently bar any federal money from being spent on abortion, thereby singling out those women who depend upon Medicaid, Medicare, or the Indian Health service, or are in the military or receive healthcare from other federal healthcare programs. doclink

U.S.: Ohio House Approves Abortion Ban After Heartbeat

   June 28, 2011, Reuters

The Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 54 to 43 to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks. Most Republicans voted in favor. It does not contain exceptions for rape, incest or the life or health of the mother.The bill will go next to the Republican-dominated Ohio Senate.

The law, if enacted will face a court challenge because it conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which upheld a woman's right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at 22-24 weeks.

Two other abortion bills were passed by the House, one that would ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor determines that the fetus is viable outside the womb; the other excludes abortion coverage from the state insurance exchange created by the federal health care law.

The late-term ban already was passed by the Ohio Senate.

Ohio Right to Life said the bill is unconstitutional and believes it is not wise to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer's dollars defending it. doclink

U.S.: No Middle Ground as States Look to Limit Abortion Rights

   June 28, 2011, Bloomberg

Abortion is back at the center of politics. There are many attempts to get around the 1973 Supreme Court decision that declared a woman's right to abortion.

In Congress and/or in state legislatures, bills have been introduced to ban financing for abortion, to restrict insurance coverage for abortion and to compel women to get ultrasounds before considering abortions.

There doesn't seem to be a moderate centrist or moderate position on abortion. If you believe that the fetus is a human being with human rights, abortion is immoral, plain and simple, and ought to be illegal. If you believe anything short of that, then a woman's right to control her own body dictates that abortion should be one of her options.

Abortion opponents say that life is a continuum, from embryo through fetus to baby and beyond. Where do you draw the line, if not at the very start of this process? But the law frequently draws lines simply because a line needs to be drawn.

Many of us also have no problem accepting the theory of evolution, another process with tiny, primitive organisms at the beginning and complex human beings at the end. At what point in evolution did people become people? There is no certain answer to that question. But we generally feel comfortable with the idea that it happened gradually. doclink

Karen Gaia says: A fertilized egg is called a zygote, and when it becomes a hollow ball of cells and is called a blastocyst, which implants in the uterus, and then is called an embryo. It is not called a fetus until its organs are complete (although not functioning) at 8 weeks after the last menstrual cycle. Many abortions are performed before 8 weeks. The mother doesn't even fell the 'stirrings of life' until 14 weeks and 90% of abortions are done before 12 weeks. ... Doctors define pregnancy as starting when the blastocyst implants in the uterus. Contraception does not cause an abortion but prevents the conception, preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg. No one seems to complain about all the wasted sperms and eggs, even though they are part of the 'continuum of life.' ... Most people ARE in the middle - they don't like abortion, but turn to it when it is better than the alternative. See

Texas Passes Bill to Require Sonograms Before Abortions

   May 5, 2011, New York Times*

A Texas bill that would require a doctor to conduct a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion and to give the woman the opportunity to see the results and hear the heartbeat of the fetus is on Gov. Rick Perry's desk for signature and he and is expected to sign it.

Though the woman can choose not to view the images and hear the heartbeat, the doctor must describe what the sonogram shows, including the existence of legs, arms and internal organs.

The bill's author, Representative Sid Miller, predicted the measure would "save numerous unborn lives."

Oklahoma passed a bill last year requiring a doctor to provide a detailed oral description of the embryo, but a court has temporarily stayed that measure pending a lawsuit.

Opponents say the bill is designed to dissuade women from seeking abortions, and they argue that the state should not interfere with the relationship between a doctor and patient. doclink

Wave of Anti-Abortion Bills Rolls Across U.S.; Battles Soaring in State Legislatures

   April 18, 2011, CNN

This year is just unlike any other year we've seen before," said Elizabeth Nash, public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute.

374 anti-abortion bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year, 200 more than last year, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America. 61 bills focus on prohibiting health insurance coverage for abortions. Another 20 would make ultrasounds mandatory before abortions.

Nebraska, Kansas and Idaho have signed into law measures banning late-term abortions. Kansas also has a new law requiring minors who seek abortions to obtain consent from both parents.

In Arizona new law bans state tax credits for donations to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers and prohibits public funding for abortion training at universities and hospitals for physicians.

29 states are now headed by governors who oppose abortion. Fifteen states have anti-abortion majorities in both chambers of their legislature, as well as a governor who opposes abortion.

Many of these laws passed by the states will be challenged, and ultimately a legal showdown will take abortion back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justices upheld a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion in 1992, but will they agree with a 48-hour waiting period? Or even 72 hours, as in South Dakota?

The Supreme Court heard the landmark Roe v. Wade case more than three decades ago. In that time, a generation of women have had the right to choose. But could the wave of legislation lead to a new era for America?

Pro-life people are passionate about what they believe in. They believe that the fetus is a human, and they do not believe it should be killed. doclink

Abortion Doesn't Harm Mothers Mental Health

   April 11, 2011, Telegraph

A panel by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found no evidence that having an abortion increases the risk of mental health problems looking at a number of studies concluded that "mental health outcomes are likely to be the same, whether women with unwanted pregnancies opt for an abortion or birth".

The panel noted that controversy persists over whether having an abortion was "comparable to a minor event such as undergoing an operation" or "a more significant life event, perhaps similar to the loss of a child".

Many studies were "characterised by varying degrees of quality and bias" and often failed to take into account a woman's mental health prior to the abortion, while other studies wrongly compared the mental health of women who had abortions with that of all women who went on to give birth - whether or not they had wanted the pregnancy. doclink

Abortion Law Runs Counter to State's Message of Frugality

   April 8, 2011, Aberdeen American News (South Dakota)

The new law in South Dakota Legislature requires a 72-hour wait for an abortion, along with mandatory counseling at a state-approved anti-abortion center, making this law one of the strictest in the nation.

This law is the antithesis of everything the governor and state lawmakers have told us were their priorities during this long legislative session. Recently Governor Daugaard espoused an across-the-board 10% cut to all state agencies and departments to deal with the state's $127 million deficit. Nothing was off limits: education, Medicaid, courts, Game, Fish and Parks, you name it.

No one from the governor's office has said how much money it will take to certify or regulate the previously independent crisis pregnancy centers that soon will be tasked with counseling pregnant women seeking abortions. doclink

Karen Gaia says, every birth averted saves thousands of dollars in infrastructure. Children and giving birth costs money. Why make it more difficult for someone who thinks they cannot afford to raise a child in these bad financial times?

U.S.: Arizona Enacts Ban on Abortions Based on Gender, Race

   March 30, 2011, Reuters

Arizona became the first state in the nation to outlaw abortions performed on the basis of the race or gender of the fetus. Doctors and other medical professionals would face felony charges if they could be shown to have performed abortions for the purposes of helping parents select their offspring on the basis of gender or race.

The women having such abortions would not be penalized.

The move comes as anti-abortion groups across the nation try to seize on gains made by political conservatives during the November elections, seeking enactment of new state laws to further restrict abortions.

Opponents maintain that while abortions on the basis of the race or gender may be happening in other countries like China, no clear evidence can found of it occurring in Arizona. doclink

U.S.: Ohio House Panel OKs Anti-abortion Heartbeat Bill

   March 30, 2011, Associated Press

An Ohio state House committee approved a bill that, if passed, would outlawing the procedure at the first detectable fetal heartbeat. This would be the strictest abortion limit in the country.

Anti-abortion groups hope that the bill sparks a legal challenge to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. However, not all anti-abortion groups support this bill. Ohio Right to Life, which fears the legal challenge this bill would present could jeopardize other abortion limits in Ohio and expand access to legal abortions. "It's the right idea at the wrong time. Timing's everything in the pro-life movement." An unsuccessful court challenge that makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court could end up overturning Ohio's informed consent law, which mandates that a physician must meet with a woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure and that the woman must be given certain information and sign a consent form.

A post-viability abortion ban is also moving through the committee.

The Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a woman's right to an abortion until fetal viability. A fetus is usually considered viable at 22 to 24 weeks. Fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland said: "This just shows this committee doesn't give a damn about the reproductive rights of Ohio women nor does it trust them to make their own decisions."

Rep. Nickie Antonio, pro-choice Democrat, anticipates a divisive fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

State Rep. Bob Hagan, Democrat, recalled visiting a speakeasy in his hometown in the late 1960s and discovering illegal abortions were taking place. He said the girlfriend of a local official died during one of the procedures. He said he cast his no vote for women, including his wife and seven sisters.

Democrats opposing the bill asked whether voting on an unconstitutional bill violated a lawmaker's oath to uphold the U.S. and Ohio constitutions.

Supporter Janet Folger Porter said it is Roe v. Wade that is unconstitutional, likening a future fight over the Heartbeat Bill to efforts that eventually overturned the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision, which found slaves of African descent had no claim to freedom or citizenship. doclink

U.S.: Attacking a Woman's Choice

   March 27, 2011, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)

Women have had a constitutional right to choose an abortion since the the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, but proposals and laws sweeping state legislatures across the country have erected obstacles to dissuade a woman in any way possible from choosing the procedure.

Conservatives who fight government intrusion when it comes to gun ownership and other rights think nothing of violating the privacy between a woman and her doctor. A woman's right to privacy was embodied in Roe v. Wade, but this right is violated in some of the laws being proposed or already passed in state legislators.

In Texas, women would be required to view a sonogram of the fetus, and listen to the fetal heartbeat and a doctor describe the fetus. Even women pregnant because of rape or incest.

Nebraska has passed a law prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, although the Supreme Court has permitted abortions up to about 24 weeks.

In South Dakota a new law requires women to wait three days to have an abortion, after consulting with a doctor who determines if the choice for an abortion was voluntary. This waiting period would pose a hardship for women in rural areas. The same law requires women to receive counseling at centers that discourage abortions. Private donors will foot the state's legal bills, which could run as high as $4.5 million.

The cumulative effect of the proposals was described as a "total onslaught" by Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute.

Republicans in Congress have proposed defunding Planned Parenthood, limiting access to information about birth control and family planning that could help women avoid unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

The same conservatives have not proposed any assistance for a woman after a baby is born from an unwanted pregnancy. Such hypocrisy. doclink

U.S.: Legislators in Three States Pass New Restrictions on Abortion

   March 23, 2011, Reuters

State lawmakers in Arizona, Kansas and Idaho moved to place new restrictions on abortion, as opponents of the procedure looked to seize on gains by conservatives in the November mid-term elections.

The Kansas Senate adopted a bill to ban abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy, unless the mother's life was otherwise at risk or she faced the risk of substantial and permanent danger to her health. The newly elected governor is expected to sign the measure into law.

The Idaho Senate approved legislation placing similar restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, sending its bill to the state House of Representatives, where passage is expected.

A court challenge is expected to Nebraska legislation enacted last year that served as the model for the Idaho and Kansas bills.

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 but allowed states to ban the procedure, unless it risked the woman's health, after the time when the fetus could potentially survive outside the womb. doclink

US Ohio: Bill Says No Abortion If There's a Heartbeat

   March 3, 2011, The Columbus Dispatch'

Ohio is the first state in which legislation has been introduced to outlaw abortions after the first heartbeat can be medically detected. If passed, House Bill 125 would be the most-restrictive abortion limit in the country. An ultrasound would be required, and, if a heartbeat can be heard, an abortion would be prohibited unless the health or life of the mother is at risk.

A statement from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said: "The bill would essentially outlaw abortions in Ohio because they would be banned before a woman even knows she is pregnant".

Even the Ohio Right to Life is not supporting the bill because the state's leading anti-abortion advocacy group says the proposal will do more harm than good. "The heartbeat bill will not save any babies' lives because it will not be upheld in court." ... "The court has said there can be no bans on pre-viability abortions." doclink

Abortion Politics Hit Brazil Elections

   October 18, 2010, Aljazeera

The issue of abortion has turned into a weapon that threatens to take away votes in Brazil, with conservative religious groups using it as a bargaining chip in exchange for their support.

The majority of voters, who are in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion, say analysts and representatives of the women's movement, criticise the use of women's bodies as a means of electoral pressure.

The question of whether abortion, which is currently punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Brazil, should be legalised has become a flashpoint issue in the campaign between Dilma Rousseff of the governing Workers Party (PT) and her rival José Serra of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).

Earlier indications that Rousseff favoured the legalisation of abortion were seen as the main reason she failed to win outright in the first round of voting, on October 3.

As in most of Latin America, abortion is illegal in Brazil except in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger.

A decisive number of voters defected from the Rousseff camp to Green Party candidate Marina Silva, an evangelical Christian.

Silva, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's (no relation) former environment minister, is opposed to abortion and proposed holding a referendum on whether or not it should be legalised.

The Green candidate's strong performance was the big surprise on October 3, when she took nearly 20% of the vote, behind Rousseff, who won 47%, and Serra, who garnered close to 33%. According to a poll, Rousseff now has 48% support, compared to Serra's 40%.

In this month's campaign, Rousseff and Serra are presenting themselves as champions of the moral crusade against the decriminalisation of abortion, even though in the past both of them have expressed openness to women's right to choose.

Beatriz Galli with Ipas Brazil -- the national branch of IPAS, an international network that works for the sexual and reproductive rights of women worldwide -- told IPS she regrets that the debate has been reduced "to being against or in favour of abortion or in favour of life"...

A study by University of Brasilia professor Débora Diniz, an anthropologist and a researcher at the Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender, found that one out of five women interviewed had had an abortion before the age of 40.

And of the respondents who had undergone an abortion, 88% said they were religious -- a revealing figure in the country with the largest number of Catholics in the world, and where evangelical churches are growing at breakneck speed...

The "demonisation" of abortion in the campaign did not reflect the opinion of the majority of voters. Women resort to unsafe abortion "in order to be able to determine how many children they want and are able to have.

Oliveira and Silva both stressed that abortion has crowded out other women's issues, such as political participation, assistance for victims of violence, and equal employment opportunities. doclink

Philippines Women's Groups Call for Legalised Abortions

   August 17, 2010, Channel NewsAsia

More and more women would die from complications arising from unsafe abortions in the Philippines, warned the country's women's groups, as they called for abortions to be legalised.

According to the Centre for Reproductive Rights, more than half a million Filipino women undergo illegal abortions every year. Of these, an estimated 90,000 women suffer complications, with about 1,000 dying eventually. The women's groups said it is time for the predominantly Roman Catholic country to allow for safe and legal abortion, to save thousands of women from undergoing crude and unsafe procedures. They said that criminalisation of abortion has not prevented the procedure, but made it unsafe. In the Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, Mmore than half of the women who seek treatment are for complications arising from illegal and unsafe abortions. Most abortion cases were due to unwanted pregnancy.

It's either they don't want the pregnancy, or they have reasons like they want to go abroad so they induced it. They take some medications to remove the pregnancy," he said. Women's rights groups are hoping that the new Congress would be able to pass a controversial Reproductive Health bill, which would uphold the use of artificial contraceptives and institutionalise sex education in schools.

That would hopefully help prevent more cases of unsafe abortion in the country. doclink

Senate Committee Approves Permanent Ban on Global Gag Rule

   July 29, 2010, Population Connection

Late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment which permanently repeals the notorious Global Gag Rule, preventing a future President from unilaterally reinstating the policy. President Obama repealed the Gag Rule in the first week of his presidency, but the fact that the policy could be reinstated with the next Presidency has a chilling effect on US family planning efforts overseas. The amendment passed by a vote of 19-11.

The Committee also approved $700 million for international family planning, including $55 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The amount is $50 million over the current funding level, but less than the $716 million requested by President Obama, and less than the $735 million approved by a House subcommittee.

The amendment has not yet come before the full Senate. doclink

U.S.: Justice Ginsburg Says Roe Will Be Upheld, Applauds Kagan

   July 12, 2010, Politico

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the U.S. "will never go back to the way it once was" before Roe v. Wade. She also said that current legal challenges do not completely eliminate abortion rights.

Abortion restrictions hurt poor women - "If people realize that, maybe they will have a different attitude." Since Roe, "over a generation of young women have grown up, understanding they can control their own reproductive capacity, and in fact their life's destiny."

Ginsburg first met Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan during a federal clerkship Kagan held and later "grew to know" her during Ginsburg's Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1993. She praised Kagan's performance during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. doclink

No Foetal Pain Before 24 Weeks

   June 24, 2010, BBC News

Foetuses feel no pain in the womb before 24 weeks, and so no reason to challenge the abortion limit, UK doctors say. Brain connections are not fully formed, and the environment of the womb creates a state of induced sleep, like unconsciousness.

Anti-abortion campaigners are likely to challenge the reports. The issue of whether a foetus of 24 weeks or below can feel pain had been raised in the debate over whether the current time limit for abortion should be reduced.

The review found that nerve connections in the cortex, the area which processes responses to pain in the brain, does not form properly before 24 weeks, and "It can be concluded that the foetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation."

The review also tried to define what mental and physical abnormalities could result in a "serious handicap". Around 1% of abortions are carried out on these grounds. Such terminations can take place after 24 weeks.

The Royal College said that it would not be practical to try to produce a list of conditions that would constitute serious handicap because it was too difficult to predict the long-term impact of an abnormality on a child or on their family.

Critics say these reports do not reflect the full debate on the issue.

"Women and doctors need to be able to make informed decisions based on what science says, not what advocates, whether pro-choice or anti-choice, wish it said".

In the last vote on abortion in Parliament in 2008, MPs rejected a proposal to reduce the time limit for abortion from 24 weeks. doclink

U.S.: Catholic Journal Says Plan B Does Not Cause Abortions

   March 31, 2010, National Catholic Reporter

Plan B, the nation's most widely used emergency contraceptive, works only as a contraceptive and does not cause abortions, according to an article in the January-February issue of Health Progress, the official journal of the Catholic Health Association.

Dr Sandra E. Reznik, who teaches reproductive endocrinology and reproductive pharmacology at St. John's University in New York, wrote in Health Progress that - since it takes about a week from an egg's fertilization to its implantation, the scientific evidence that Plan B treatment is completely ineffective after five days is overwhelming: It works only by preventing fertilization, not by preventing implantation.

Otherwise, she said, the drug would also be found effective from five to 12 days after coitus, because that is the time frame between the last chance for a sperm to fertilize an egg and the time a fertilized egg would implant. The declining effectiveness of Plan B between 48 and 120 hours after coitus adds to the argument that preventing a fertilized egg from being implanted is not one of its effects, she said.

Catholic facilities currently may administer emergency contraception to a rape victim, but only to prevent ovulation or fertilization. However, if the procedure causes an already fertilized egg to be destroyed or prevents its implantation in the womb, that is no longer considered contraception but abortion.

The Catholic definition of abortion includes any destruction of a fertilized human egg, while the American Medical Association defines abortion as any destruction of an embryo following its implantation. The difference is about 7 days in the life of a human egg, and it is what fuels the debate over whether Plan B is only contraceptive or also a possible abortifacient.

This question led the Catholic bishops and four Catholic hospitals of Connecticut to oppose that state's 2007 legislation on emergency contraception unless it allowed hospitals to test for pregnancy and ovulation before administering the drug. In its final form, the law permitted hospitals to do a pregnancy test before administering Plan B, but not an ovulation test.

Theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College said that if scientific data show conclusively that Plan B is only contraceptive, any pregnancy or ovulation test before its use as an emergency contraceptive after rape "seems to me an unjustified delay that increases the possibility that the raped woman will become pregnant."

If Plan B never causes abortions, then Catholic hospitals should have no moral problem providing it as an emergency contraceptive to a rape victim.

Plan B apparently "does not affect pregnancies that are already established, so what's really the point in doing a pregnancy test?" she asked. "It doesn't seem to have a scientific validity to it in the way that Plan B, by all accounts, operates." doclink

U.S. House Approves Sweeping Healthcare Overhaul

   March 22, 2010, International Planned Parenthood Federation

The U.S. House of Representatives gave approval to a healthcare overhaul, expanding coverage to nearly all Americans. On a 219-212 vote, Democrats approved the most dramatic health policy changes in four decades. The overhaul will extend health coverage to 32 million Americans, expand the government health plan for the poor, impose new taxes on the wealthy and bar insurance practices such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The vote capped a political battle with Republicans that dented Obama's approval and fulfilled a goal that had eluded many presidents. "This legislation will not fix everything that ails our healthcare system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like," Obama said.

Critics said the $940 billion bill will drive up costs, increase the budget deficit and reduce patients' choices.

House Democrats approved a package of changes to the Senate bill. The Senate will take up that package under rules requiring a simple majority to pass.

Under the deal, Obama will issue an executive order affirming government restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion would not be changed.

That pledge won the support of a handful of House Democratic abortion rights opponents. The bill's approval represented a turnaround from January, when it was considered dead after Democrats lost their crucial 60th Senate vote in a special Massachusetts Senate election.

A final push, will use the Senate's budget reconciliation rules to bypass the need for 60 votes on the changes they sought to the overhaul. doclink

U.S.: Is Abortion a Racist Plot? of Course Not

   March 17, 2010, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Some factions in the "pro-life" crusade are professing a new found concern for the well-being of black children. "Racism" has become the battle cry of anti- abortion groups whose members like to think that racism no longer exists.

Georgia's largest anti-abortion group, is presenting itself as the last defense against a plot to wipe out black people. The group has billboards throughout black Atlanta neighborhoods, claiming that "Black children are an endangered species" because of abortions.

Anti-abortion activists have recently taken aim at such organizations as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, claiming it is run by bigots. Two years ago, a faith-based group with ties to black clergy sent a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus denouncing Planned Parenthood for its "racist and eugenic goals."

Let's try some facts. Despite the obstacles many black children face on the road to a successful adulthood, their numbers are not threatened.

Black women have a higher birth rate than the national average. The abortion rate for black American women is almost five times that for white women.

Are racists persuading black women to have abortions? That's insulting and racist to suggest that black women don't have the intellectual and emotional firepower to make their own decisions.

Behind virtually every abortion is an unintended pregnancy. Because black women as a group want the same number of children as white women, but have so many more unintended pregnancies, they are more likely than white women to terminate an unintended pregnancy by abortion.

Among all women, white, black and brown - there should be support for efforts to broaden women's health care, which includes reproductive health care.

Easy access to contraceptives would reduce unintended pregnancies - and abortions.

But social and religious conservatives have been fighting health care reform, which would broaden access to reproductive health care, with the passion they normally reserve for bashing Roe v Wade. That's why it's hard to believe they really care about black women - or their children. doclink

Perennial Feud Remains on Abortion

   February 12, 2010, The Wall Street Journal

The toughest obstacle to the Democrats' health-care legislation will be the persistent issue of abortion.

The Senate version was a carefully crafted compromise that left neither side happy. The language will have to be finessed again if a final bill is to clear the House. One idea involves inserting more-restrictive language later into a spending bill.

The question is: should health-insurance policies that people would buy with federal subsidies be allowed to offer abortion coverage? In the House last year, Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) won language denying the abortion coverage; the bill passed 220-215.

The Senate version allows insurers to offer abortion coverage as long as customers write a separate check to pay for it, but Mr. Stupak said the Senate version left too big a loophole, while abortion-rights supporters argued that it would be too cumbersome for insurance companies to collect separate checks and they wouldn't cover abortion at all. doclink

After Decades of Controversy, Could Abortion Become Legal in Ireland?; the Big Question

   December 11, 2009, The Independent

A legal challenge is being mounted at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, arguing that the Irish Republic's strict abortion laws has put health of the three claimants at risk because they had to go abroad for abortions; and this amounted to inhumane treatment. One woman was trying to regain custody of her four children when she became pregnant. Another was at risk of an extra-uterine pregnancy, and the third was recovering from cancer and feared a relapse.

The women's lawyers say that the impossibility for them to have an abortion in Ireland made the procedure unnecessarily expensive, complicated and traumatic, and that the experience stigmatised and humiliated them. The lawyers claimed that Irish abortion law breaches several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the rights to life, privacy and family life, and further represents discrimination against women.

The Irish government Attorney-General said that the claim that their health was threatened as "a significant attack" on the Irish health service and the treatment, advice and support it offered, including aftercare and post-abortion counselling. Irish laws, he said, were based on "profound moral values deeply embedded in Irish society."

Every year thousands of Irish women travel abroad to have their pregnancies terminated. Last year 4,600 did so. One study concluded that almost one in 10 Irish pregnancies ends in an English abortion clinic.

In some countries, such as Britain, termination is readily available while in others the law allows it in cases such as rape or serious risk to the woman's life or health.

Ireland is an overwhelmingly catholic country, and the right of life for the unborn child has been protected by law for 150 years. Over the years church authority has been in decline, largely because of the child abuse scandals. Much of society has become more secular and cosmopolitan, bringing on a general public acceptance of issues such as divorce, homosexuality, contraception and co-habitation rather than marriage. But abortion has always been a controversial issue.

To change the constitution means having measures supporting abortion approved in a referendum. None of the various referendum campaigns was fought on the basis of legalising abortion, instead centering on amendments which made often confusing adjustments to legal wording. A referendum in 2002, aimed at tightening the law, was rejected by a margin of 50.42% to 49.58%.

With the strong economic downturn and the church abuse scandal, most politicians would probably shy away from the abortion issue. doclink

100,000 Strong Against the Stupak Ban

   November 20, 2009, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Click on the link to sign the petition.

Planned Parenthood health centers provide care to uninsured women, men, and families who can't get care anywhere else, so there is a desperate need to pass a health reform bill this year. But eliminating choice for millions of women is a price we can't afford to pay for passing health reform.

The Stupak amendment that passed as part of the House reform bill, if it becomes law, will outlaw private abortion coverage for millions of women and prohibit coverage in the public option. Millions of women who currently have abortion coverage will lose it - and millions more will be locked out of the comprehensive coverage they have long deserved. This ban applies not only to women who receive help from the government to pay for insurance, but also applies to women who are paying for the entire cost of insurance with their own hard-earned money.

We have another chance if we can prevent this misguided attack on women's health from being included in the Senate's legislation - help us reach 100,000 petition signatures rejecting the Stupak amendment. More than 54,000 have already signed. But the deadline is December 2.

December 2 is a day National Day of Action, with hundreds of supporters asking Congress to provide health care reform with protected access to abortion coverage. Please support this action with your signature on the petition. doclink

US Abortion Amendment 'Throws Women Under Bus'

   November 10, 2009, Telegraph

Women's rights advocates are angry about the Stupak-Pitts amendment restricting abortion access and funding, which was added to the health care reform bill and passed by the House of Representatives.

President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on the pro-choice promises he made during his election campaign.

Terry O'Neill, president of the half-million-strong National Organisation of Women said: "The Stupak-Pitts amendment is a giant leap in the direction of making abortion completely inaccessible to all of us."

It was claimed that the health care reform could not be passed without this amendment.

"We want the Senate to drop the amendment, and if they don't, we are going to pressure the president not to sign it. They should be more concerned that they have passed a bill that gives women only partial health care than about angering the Catholic church," O'Neill said.

Stupak-Pitts was drafted by men, passed by a House of Representatives with only 16 per cent of women lawmakers and backed by the all-male US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), O'Neill noted.

"Here come all these men, who have never had to worry about missing a period, and they pass a health care bill for 49% of the population," she said.

Liza Sabater, a former professor at Rutgers University turned full-time blogger, accused Democratic House lawmakers of "throwing women under the bus."

"They're saying that giving people's taxes to fund abortion infringes on constitutional rights." .. "But how about anti-war activists? I don't want my tax money going to fund wars," she said.

The amendment would bar the proposed federal government insurance programme, known as the "public option", from paying for abortion, except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

Also, "If anyone on your private plan, which you are paying for out of your own pocket, is subsidised, that plan has to exclude abortion coverage" said O'Neill.

A woman can have an abortion covered by insurance, - by purchasing a "single-service rider" to cover the voluntary termination of pregnancy.

But Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said: "Women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies that require ending the pregnancy," she said. "No insurance company would offer such a policy."

O'Neill warned that, should that happen, "the United States will take a huge step backward toward the back alley". doclink

U.S.: Abortion Rises to Threaten Health Care Bill

   October 24, 2009, NPR

In the debate over a government-run health plan, abortion is a controversial issue, as it has always been a controversial issue in government.

The vast majority of abortion policy, even though much of it is longstanding, is actually only temporary. Most of it's done in these annual spending bills and it has to be renewed every single year so it can be changed every time the president or the Congress changes positions on abortion.

This health bill, assuming that it passes and becomes law, will become permanent law. So, both sides know that there is a lot at stake here.

Both sides would like to just maintain the status quo of federal policy and abortion in this bill, but they see interpret the proposed heath care plan in different ways.

Abortion opponent Representative Bart Stupak (Democrat, Michigan) says: Abortion must be explicitly excluded from the scope of any authority anywhere in this bill to define a mandatory benefits package. Secondly, we must preserve the longstanding principles that public funds do not pay for abortion procedures and do not flow to any plan that includes abortion.

Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois (Democrat) says: Comprehensive health care does include reproductive health care, prenatal and maternity care, screening for breast, cervical and other cancers or STDs, abortion, contraceptive services. That these are all basic health care for women that we have a right to by virtue of our reproductive organs and our right to control our own bodies.

The idea is to write language that freezes in place current law on abortion. So all funds that will pay for abortion will have to come from premiums paid by individuals, not from the federal government. This means one plan that does offer abortion as a benefit and one that doesn't. And that, in any case, funds that will pay for abortion will have to be segregated from any federal funds.

The anti-abortion side say that this amendment would still allow too much federal funding of abortion and that it allows more abortion funding that is currently allowed.

Abortion rights backers say if the bill is compromised any further, it could mean that women who currently have abortion coverage in their private plans could lose it. Somewhere between 46% and 87% of women who have private insurance coverage currently have coverage for abortion. If you say no plans, no private plans that are subsidized by federal funds could cover abortion, a lot of those women could then lose that coverage.

The anti-abortion people are threatening to try to block the bill from even coming to the House floor, using a procedural vote. Making the fight complex is the fact that there are Republicans who have favored abortion rights and Democrats who are very anti-abortion. doclink

Would Proposed Amendment Make Birth Control Illegal in Florida?

   September 11, 2009, Tampa Tribune

A proposed Constitutional amendment would make it a crime to take birth control pills in Florida, critics claim.

The "Personhood Amendment" would define defines someone as a "person," regardless of age or health status, "from the beginning of the biological development of that human being," or a fertilized egg, according to Pat McEwen, one of the leaders of the group proposing the measure.

The originator of the proposed amendment, Personhood Florida, will have to collect 676,811 petition signatures by Feb. 1 for its proposal to make the 2010 ballot.

A similar measure on Colorado's ballot in 2008 was rejected by voters by about 3-to-1. The Colorado measure defined human beings at "the moment of fertilization." Birth control pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDS, work partly by causing the lining of the uterus to thin, "making it less likely that a fertilized egg can attach to it."

Opponents say the ammendment would make it a crime not just to kill a fetus by abortion, but to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's uterus.

McEwen said she's not convinced her proposed amendment would criminalize the pill, but she would support banning it, she said, if she were truly convinced that it prevents implantation.

The American Life League says on its website "the pill will irritate the lining of the uterus so that the newly formed human being cannot attach to his/her mother's womb and dies. This is called a chemical abortion."

The Colorado amendment was defeated because "Voters stated loudly that they didn't want this measure that had such far-reaching implications", according to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Several 2010 political candidates who call themselves "pro-life" stopped short of fully embracing the personhood proposal.

A similar measure on Colorado's ballot in 2008 was rejected by voters by about 3-to-1. The Colorado measure defined human beings at "the moment of fertilization." Birth control pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDS, work partly by causing the lining of the uterus to thin, "making it less likely that a fertilized egg can attach to it."

Opponents say the amendment would make it a crime not just to kill a fetus by abortion, but to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman's uterus.

McEwen said she's not convinced her proposed amendment would criminalize the pill, but she would support banning it, she said, if she were truly convinced that it prevents implantation.

The American Life League says on its website "the pill will irritate the lining of the uterus so that the newly formed human being cannot attach to his/her mother's womb and dies. This is called a chemical abortion."

The Colorado amendment was defeated because "Voters stated loudly that they didn't want this measure that had such far-reaching implications", according to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Several 2010 political candidates who call themselves "pro-life" stopped short of fully embracing the personhood proposal. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The language "from the beginning of the biological development of that human being," could be interpreted to mean the sperm or the egg - which is, in fact, the beginning of the biological development of that human being. Allowing unfertilized eggs to go down the toilet or sperm lost in wet dreams could then be considered murder if the measure were to pass.

Domestic Family Planning

Sex-Selective Abortion Bans-a Disingenuous New Strategy to Limit Women's Access to Abortion; Entrenched Preference for Sons Should Be Addressed by Countering Social and Cultural Bias Against Women, Not by Eroding Their Health and Rights

   May 30, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

Over the last four years U.S. abortion rights opponents have advanced legislation to ban sex-selective abortion at the federal level and in 13 states. Oklahoma and Arizona have already enacted such laws.

Sneha Barot, author of a new Guttmacher analysis says "These proposals cynically advance a narrow agenda that starts and ends with banning abortion." ... "The experience of other countries has clearly demonstrated that such bans are not only ineffective, but they further exacerbate gender discrimination by undermining women's autonomy and creating additional obstacles to women's health care."

Sex-selective abortion is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia, where an inordinately high social value is placed on men over women. In those countries, sex-selective abortion has resulted in dangerously skewed sex ratios, with boys heavily outnumbering girls. In the United States, meanwhile, there is limited data indicating that sex-selective abortion may be occurring in some Asian communities, although the U.S. sex ratio, at 1.05 males for every female, is squarely within biologically normal parameters.

"The underlying gender discrimination that drives son preference-and needs to be addressed through social, legal and economic policies that raise women's status-remains. Only South Korea has made significant progress-and researchers largely credit changes in underlying social norms that resulted from urbanization and rapid economic development." doclink

Medicaid is at a Turning Point-with Significant Implications for the Family Planning Services it Funds

   May 30, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

Medicaid is the public insurance program for poor and low-income Americans, includes family planning, accounting for 75% of all public family planning spending. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), slated to go into effect in 2014, the program will see a significant expansion. However, this faces two hurdles: Supreme Court decision in June on the constitutionality of the ACA and its Medicaid expansion, and national elections in November. A stronger, expanded Medicaid program should mean more and better coverage for the reproductive health needs of low-income Americans. A scaled-back Medicaid, reshaped to restrict costs, enrollment and care, would imperil the family planning safety-net and the health and well-being of the women and families who rely upon it. doclink

Judge Permanently Blocks Oklahoma's Ban on Medication Abortion and Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancies

   May 14, 2012, Center for Reproductive Rights

In an unprecedented ruling recognizing bodily integrity and reproductive choice as fundamental rights under the Oklahoma state constitution, an Oklahoma state judge has found that a law severely and arbitrarily restricting medical care for women seeking an abortion is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. Women seeking abortions in Oklahoma will continue to have access to non-invasive treatment options that use medications.

Judge Worthington ruled that the bill's restrictions on medication abortion are unconstitutional because they are "so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of medicine that [the bill] can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do."

More than 1.4 million women in the U.S. have chosen to safely end an early pregnancy through medication abortion since mifepristone was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 2000, and reams of scientific data clearly show that medication abortion is highly safe and effective. doclink

Oklahoma Personhood Measure Struck Down by Supreme Court

   April 30, 2012, Huffington Post

The Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously vetoed a ballot measure that would have given embryos full personhood rights on Monday, ruling it "clearly unconstitutional" because it would block a woman's legal right to have an abortion.

The personhood measure would give embryos the same legal rights as people from the moment of fertilization, which opponents say would ban abortion and complicate the legality of in vitro fertilization and many forms of birth control. The U.S. Supreme Court's 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey allows states to pass some abortion restrictions but prevents them from overturning the constitutional right to end a pregnancy. The personhood measure would have violated that decision. doclink

U.S.: War on Women: Anti-Contraception Lit Handed Out at Conservative Conference Headlined by Santorum, Paul Ryan

   March 26, 2012, Think Progress

At a Defending The American Dream Summit -- Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a conservative Koch-funded organization -- in Milwaukee on Saturday, Santorum, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). insisted that the Obama administration's rule requiring insurance companies to cover contraception actually had nothing to do with contraception, but rather was an attack on religious liberty.

In the next room there was literature provided by American Life League warning women about the supposed dangers of birth control and telling them that "Chastity is the best choice for single people." One handout explained that contraception is unnecessary because "Saving yourself for your future spouse is guaranteed to prevent pregnancy before marriage." Another answered the question "Is it safe?" with a simple "No." The literature on emergency contraception warned that it could cause cancer before telling women simply, "Be good to yourself. Don't use the morning-after pill."

Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pleaded last week with those in his party to "get off" the war on women. Apparently the former GOP presidential nominee's call is being completely ignored. With 70% of women agreeing that President Obama's contraception requirement is a matter of women's health, continuing to attack birth control could spell disaster for Republicans in the fall. doclink

America and Reproductive Rights: Not Making the Grade

   January 7, 2016, Huffington Post   By: Robert Walker

The Population Institute is this week releasing its annual 50-state report card on reproductive health and rights, and it is not encouraging.

Nineteen states received a failing grade and the U.S. as a whole fell from a "C" to a "D+".

Attacks on Planned Parenthood, both physical and political, are jeopardizing the ability of women to access health care services. Consequently, political assaults on sex education programs are gaining momentum and threatening the progress that we have made in reducing teen pregnancies. It all adds up to a bad report card for 2015, and it could get worse in 2016 as Congress inches ever closer to shutting down Planned Parenthood and Title X.

In 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives voted seven times to defund Planned Parenthood, and Congress voted again in 2015 to eliminate all funding for Title X, which allows access to contraception and other vital health care services, including cancer screenings.

The efforts to cut funding are unrelenting. Congress is kicking off the New Year by sending a bill to the President's desk that would eliminate federal funding for the contraceptive services provided by Planned Parenthood. The President is expected to veto the measure, but the political tug-of-war will continue throughout the year.

Federal cuts in support for Planned Parenthood, even if offset in part by funding for other providers, would have a devastating impact on women in this country. Planned Parenthood health centers make up only one-tenth of publicly funded safety-net providers, but they serve more than one out of three clients seeking contraceptive services.

Abortion restrictions in Texas and in other states have forced the closures of dozens of family planning clinics and physical assaults on family planning clinics, which range from vandalism and arson to the devastating shooting that occurred at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, are creating a climate of fear that will deter many women from accessing family planning services.

The news is not all bad. Four states (California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington) received an "A". But the trend is not encouraging. 21 states have refused to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, thereby denying many poor women coverage for contraceptive services.

Equally worrisome are the escalating attacks on support for comprehensive sex education in the schools. Sex education programs have made a significant contribution to the historic drop in the nation's teen pregnancy rate, but America's teen pregnancy rate is still very high compared to other industrialized countries.

By any standard, about half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and limiting access to contraceptive services and sex education will only increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and, of course, the demand for abortions.

A woman's reproductive health should not depend on her income or where she lives, but it appears that it does.

2015 was a bad year for reproductive health and rights in the U.S., but 2016 could be worse. Stay tuned. Better yet, get active. doclink

New Poll Shows Widespread Support for Birth Control Access in the U.S.

   November 9, 2015, PRWeb

'Thanks, Birth Control Day', occurring on November 10, celebrates the many benefits of birth control, including fewer unplanned pregnancies and more educational and economic opportunities.

In the U.S. a nationwide telephone survey of over 1,000 adults, conducted for The National Campaign by SSRS, an independent research company, found that:

•86% (91% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans) support policies that make it easier for those 18 and older to get the full range of birth control methods.

•71% ( 86% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans) support policies that make it easier for teens to get the full range of birth control methods.

•About 80% think more people would use birth control if they knew more about its many benefits, knew more about the many methods of birth control available, and were comfortable talking openly about birth control.

•87% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, 81% of white non-Hispanics, 77% of Hispanics, and 73% of black non-Hispanics agree that birth control is a basic part of women's health care.

•84% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans, 82% of black non-Hispanics, 79% of Hispanics, and 77% of white non-Hispanics believe policymakers who are opposed to abortion should be strong supporters of birth control.

•82% of black non-Hispanics, 75% of Hispanics, and 68% of white non-Hispanics support polices that make it easier for teens to get the full range of birth control methods.

•91% of black non-Hispanics, 87% of Hispanics, and 86% of white non-Hispanics support policies that make it easier for those age 18 and up to get the full range of birth control methods.

"Access to birth control has been a game changer for women and families. It has contributed greatly to reduce rates of teen and unplanned pregnancies that we know will ultimately lead to better educational and economic opportunities for women, healthier kids and families, and reduced public costs," said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of The National Campaign. doclink

The Fallacy of the Latest Contraception Case

   November 6, 2015, New York Times   By: New York Times Editorial Board

Soon the Supreme Court will hear the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act's guarantee of insurance coverage for birth control. It is worth going over the conflict at the core of these cases to better understand it.

The plaintiffs are employers who -- even they they are not required to provide coverage for those contraceptives which they believe induce abortions -- refuse to notify the government or their insurers of their refusal to provide coverage. All they would have to do would be to submit a simple two-page form designed for the purpose. The notion that these contraceptives produce abortions are contrary to scientific consensus.

They argue that signing the form would make them complicit in the eventual provision of contraception, and thus would violate their faith. They rely on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Under that 1993 law, any regulation that imposes a "substantial burden" on religious practice must be in furtherance of a "compelling governmental interest" that cannot be achieved by less restrictive means.

Seven federal appeals courts threw out the plaintiffs' argument against signing the form because there is a compelling interest in ensuring that women have easy access to health care, including contraception, and it is hard to imagine a less restrictive approach than requiring employers simply to sign a form.

However, the federal appeals court for the Eighth Circuit upheld the employers' argument on the grounds that they have a "sincere religious belief" that signing the form makes them "morally and spiritually complicit" in what they consider to be a sin.

Since there is a legal conflict among the federal courts, the Supreme Court is slated to resolve it.

After Hobby Lobby, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that thinking that "one's religious beliefs are substantially burdened - no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be - doesn't make it so."

Such lawsuits are a well orchestrated assault on the right of women to control their bodies, and thus the course of their own lives, by deciding if and when they will have a child. doclink

How a Billionaire-Backed IUD is Fighting the GOP War on Women's Bodies

Republicans should love Liletta, but instead they're fighting it every step of the way
   October 27, 2015, AlterNet   By: Kali Holloway

Liletta is a new intrauterine device which became available in April. It is affordable, safe, 99% effective, and widely accessible. Studies prove the IUD reduces rates of unplanned pregnancies, and it's been shown to decrease the number of teen abortions. Once Liletta is inserted by a healthcare professional, it can remain in place for up to three years without any patient intervention, effectively eliminating the kinds of user errors that lead to pregnancy.

In multiple studies, Liletta has been proven safe, placing it far outside the troubled history of IUDs.

Unfortunately the conservative response has been to obstruct the use and availability of Liletta and similar contraceptive methods at every opportunity. Their mission seems like one less focused on protecting the sanctity of human life than it is penalizing and stigmatizing women for having non-reproductive sex.

Most IUDs cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200 -- prohibitively priced for most family planning clinics, many of which are already severely underfunded. But with Liletta, its developer Medicines360 has capped out-of-pocket expenditures for insured women at $75, and in cases where patients qualify financially, even that cost can be subsidized. Medicines360 has made it a priority that public health care centers can purchase the IUD at just $50 a pop, allowing them to keep plenty in stock. Batches of Liletta have been recently shipped to 49 states, with more than half of the devices going to clinics that serve low-income patients.

The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the philanthropic organization co-founded by Warren Buffett and his late wife, has recently focused on funding family planning work, spending an estimated $200 million to determine the best and most effective contraceptive methods, underwriting costs for product development, conducting clinical trials, and creating distribution channels that ensure affordability.

Judith DeSarno of the Buffett Foundation, said that Warren "thinks that unless women can control their fertility -- and that it's basically their right to control their fertility-that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States."

In 2007, the Buffett Foundation gave approximately $20 million to fund the Contraceptive Choice Project, a three-year study involving more than 9,000 women of childbearing age in St. Louis, Missouri. Participants were given information about various types of birth control, with particular insights on IUDs, and offered the method of their choice for free. 56% ultimately opted for an IUD, proving women would be interested in the devices when armed with the right information.

Between 2008 and 2013, the Buffett Foundation spent over $50 million in Colorado on a project that offered free and reduced-cost IUDs to some 30,000 women through 68 family planning clinics statewide. Subsequently the teen birth rate in the state fell by 40% from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42%, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper said that "Colorado moved from the 29th lowest teenage birth rate in the nation before the initiative began in 2008 to 19th lowest in 2012." The project saved the state "$42.5 million in public funds in 2010 alone."

In the 1970s and '80s, IUDs were synonymous with the Dalkon Shield, a brand that was recalled for causing septic abortions, infertility, and in rare cases, death. In 2000, the FDA-approved Mirena hit the market, followed in 2013 by pharmaceutical giant Bayer's Skyla, both of which helped revive interest in the IUD for a generation of women less familiar with its history.

To remedy the dark name of the IUD, the Buffett Foundation spent $74 million to launch Medicines360, which immediately set about creating a generic IUD. Liletta was the result.

There are nearly 3.4 million unintended pregnancies each year in America; many likely to end in abortion. Poor and low-income women, more specifically, are five times more likely than wealthier women to experience both unplanned pregnancies and unintended births, according to a Brookings Institute study.

Although conservatives often discuss the birth rate among women in underserved communities as if it points to some innate, class-based moral failing, Brookings notes that rates of premarital sex are not socioeconomically determined. "There is no 'sex gap' by income," researchers write.

A study by the Guttmacher Institute of women aged 18-34 with household incomes below $75,000 found that cost led many women to cut corners with their birth control, skipping pills, delaying prescriptions, or adopting a one-month-on, one-month-off approach to taking the pill. One in four women who struggle financially are forced to take such measures, compared to among women with financial stability, whose rate is roughly one in seventeen.

Because of the upfront cost of IUDs and hormonal implants, low-income women are less likely to access these most effective forms of birth control, which are 99% successful in preventing pregnancy.

Another Guttmacher survey finds that a "majority of respondents reported that birth control use had allowed them to take better care of themselves or their families (63%), support themselves financially (56%), complete their education (51%), or keep or get a job (50%). Young women, unmarried women, and those without children reported more reasons for using contraception than others: not being able to afford a baby, not being ready for children, feeling that having a baby would interrupt their goals, and wanting to maintain control in their lives were the most commonly reported reasons for using birth control.

Many conservatives might not be interested in the self-determination birth control provides for women. But as a measure that helps reduce abortions and unwanted births -- they should be all for it. In 2010, nearly 70% of unintended births were paid for by public insurance programs, especially Medicaid. The GOP, which supposedly values dollars and cents above all else, should appreciate any solution likely to send those numbers downward.

Early this summer, House Republicans voted to eliminate funding for Title X, the only federal program which specifically funds family planning and reproductive-health services, including birth control, for low-income women. Now they are currently trying to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides a long list of family planning services to millions of women. Abortions represent just 3% of the services Planned Parenthood offers, a figure Republicans might care about if any of this was actually about abortion.

Conservatives in Texas, Kansas, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama are trying to defund Planned Parenthood at the local level. Louisiana Planned Parenthood clinics don't even provide abortion services, "so defunding it would only keep low-income patients...from accessing cancer screenings and other preventative health-care." Across the country, health care clinics have been rapidly disappearing, thanks to Republican efforts.

In 2014 the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision ruled in favor of a companies with closely held religious beliefs to opt out of providing women insurance that covers the cost of IUDs and some morning-after pills. (Hobby Lobby says IUDs are abortifacients; doctors and elementary school-level reproductive science say that's not true.)

Ann Friedman wrote of the decision: "The Supreme Court's decision -- and most reproductive-health restrictions passed by lawmakers across America over the past several decades -- expresses the view that women make their choice when they choose sex, and it's up to them to figure it out after that. That there is no social or moral or governmental obligation to make it easier for them to make choices that follow from a perfectly human impulse to want sex but not babies. For women, sex is an option, an inessential luxury like LASIK eye surgery."

In Colorado, after money ran out on a family planning project that resulted in a massive drop in teen pregnancies and abortions across the board, conservatives in the legislature turned down a bill to fund the program. One local anti-choice group said giving teens access to contraception "does not help them understand the risks that come with sexual activities."

These anti-choicers want no part of a program that teaches young women how to be sexually responsible, or that doesn't scare them into believing the only way sex can end is badly. These same conservatives refuse to fund anything that benefits children once they leave the uterus, who vilify single mothers, who bemoan "entitlement programs" for the most vulnerable families and children. In voting against those measures, conservatives are voting for teen pregnancy, unplanned births and abortion.

As more clinics introduce Liletta to their clients, and more health care plans offer it as a choice (mine does!), the 10% of women who rely on IUDs for birth control will only continue to grow. Republicans will keep pushing for policies that attempt to stop women from having sex, instead of plans that actually benefit women's reproductive health and offer real choice. doclink

Struggling Colorado Birth Control Program Worked Even Better Than Thought, Says Health Department

   October 22, 2015, Gazette, The   By: Jakob Rodgers

A program offering birth control to low-income teens and young women is more efficient than previously thought, Colorado's health department announced last Wednesday.

The initiative, which provided long-acting reversible contraceptives at little or no cost, dropped the state's teen birth and abortion rates by 48 percent from 2009 to 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found.

The intrauterine devices can prevent more than 99 percent of pregnancies within the first year of implantation. They should not affect fertility once removed, according to WebMD.

Previous data from the program's first four years found teen births had dropped 40 percent from 2009 through 2013, while abortions declined 35 percent, the department said.

The new data comes as the program faces several challenges.

A five-year, $25 million grant from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation ended in June, and legislation to continue funding failed in the Republican-held Senate.

Several Colorado foundations have since offered $2.2 million in bridge funding through June 30, 2016. The health department said Wednesday it is seeking more sustainable funding.

Unintended pregnancies are more likely to result in children lives and health being at risk, according to the health department.

The initiative also has been credited with saving Medicaid an estimated $79 million from 2010 through 2012, the health department said. doclink

Full Committee Hearing on Planned Parenthood's Taxpayer Funding

   September 29, 2015, youTube / Oversight Dems

In his opening statement, committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he doesn't think Planned Parenthood needs federal subsidies; just look at Richards's salary ($520,000), he said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the committee, said in a fiery rebuttal that it was particularly hypocritical for Republicans to place Planned Parenthood under a microscope and take Richards to task over her salary when they had never taken an interest in the hefty compensations of executives at big banks, drug companies and defense contractors, who had all engaged in law-breaking.

For more, see doclink

U.S.: The Facts Vs. Fiction on Planned Parenthood

   September 29, 2015, OversightDems

Claim: Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue for profit.

FACTS: The first video released by Daleiden omitted ten instances in which Planned Parenthood's Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, unequivocally stated that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donations

At one point, Dr. Nucatola stated: "obody should be 'selling' tissue. That's just not the goal here." That statement was edited out of the video

A forensic analysis of the so-called "full footage" videos found that they still contain "cuts, skips, missing tape, and changes in camera angle," and "numerous intentional post-production edits." The analysis found that one of the purported full-footage videos contains "more than 30 minutes of missing video."

The analysis concluded that the videos "cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries" and that even the underlying transcripts are "useless as 'evidence'" because they contain "numerous errors, discrepancies, and omissions."

Get the facts: doclink

Quick Sex Ed Lesson for Tonight's GOP Debate Candidates

   September 16, 2015, Planned Parenthood Action Fund   By: Miriam Berg

Recently Republican presidential candidates have been tripping over themselves to make extreme statements on women's health, threatening to shut down the government over providing basic reproductive health care to Planned Parenthood's millions of patients across the country.

Some have swung so far to the right, they've ventured into the medically impossible. Scott Walker refused to say he would be in favor of allowing a woman to access abortion, even if it meant saving her life -- it's not that he's in favor of letting a woman die, per se, he just doesn't believe a woman's life could ever really be at risk during pregnancy. Jeb Bush claimed that Planned Parenthood should be defunded because: "they're not actually doing women's health issues. They're involved in something way different than that." Rick Santorum said "I don't think there's any numbers out there that suggest that access to contraception actually reduces the number of abortion. After her granddaughter received an HPV vaccine, Carly Fiorina defended opting out of the vaccination, saying that it was an "esoteric" vaccine for a disease that is "not communicable." Dr. Carson said he would be okay with exceptions to an abortion ban for survivors of rape or incest, but that a medication abortion should only be prescribed in the emergency room, adding: "I would hope that they would very quickly avail themselves of the emergency room, and in the emergency room, they have the ability to administer RU-486 and other possibilities before you have a developing fetus."

More than 600 women die each year due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth, and more would die if they didn't have access to abortion.

99 percent of sexually active women in the United States have used at least one contraceptive method.

Planned Parenthood's health centers provides STD tests and treatments, contraception related services, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal services.

Providing birth control to women at no cost substantially reduces unplanned pregnancies and cuts abortion rates by a range of 62 to 78 percent.

HPV is not only contagious, but also one of the most common STDs - nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.

Medication abortion (RU-486) terminates a pregnancy and is used up to 9 weeks after the first day of a woman's last period. Emergency contraception (EC or Plan B) is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy for up to five days after unprotected sex, and works to help prevent pregnancy by keeping a woman's ovary from releasing an egg for longer than usual so it cannot be fertilized by sperm.

71% of voters oppose shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood's funding, and an overwhelming majority oppose all efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Attacks on Planned Parenthood and women's health might have short-term gain for Republican candidates in their primary, but it is a recipe for defeat in a general election. doclink

U.S.: My Turn: the Miracle of Family Planning

   September 3, 2015, Concord Monitor   By: John Warner

Large families were common back in last half of the 19th century, when the authorr's great grandfather had 10 children. This made sense then, since in agrarian America, farmers needed labor, and children could supply it. As America became urban and industrial, needs changed and family size changed. The current generation typically has only two children.

The change fit both American families and American society, because continuation of these earlier rates of proliferation would have resulted in an unsustainable population.

If all families after my great grandfather's generation had all had 10 children, the U.S. population could have gone from 76 million in 1900 to as much as 7 billion today, demonstrating the power of exponential growth. With such a big population our country would have experienced massive poverty, intense starvation and extensive death. And, that is what the larger world has in store if it is unable to stabilize its currently burgeoning population.

Researchers have concluded that to live at an American or European standard of living, a sustainable population for the Earth is between 1 and 2 billion people; now we are over three time that much.

In the intense religious fervor of the Third Great Awakening in 1800's brought with it the Comstock Act (1873), which declared contraception and birth control to be "obscene and illegal." Despite Comstock, many families (women primarily) opted to ignore the law, to plan their families, to obtain and use contraception (and to get abortions). If these women had actually followed the dictates of the Comstock Act, we would be an overpopulated, impoverished nation today.

The Comstock Act was fully overturned in 1965 after it was noted that lower-class birth rates far exceeded upper-class rates, especially as wealthier women became educated, wanted careers, and limited and delayed having children.

Now we are facing the threat of going back to the Comstock days. Our media is now filled with stories about the evils of Planned Parenthood and efforts to eliminate this valuable resource.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wants a constitutional amendment to make most forms of contraception illegal. Virtually all of the Republican candidates support the Religious Right's desire to make family planning more difficult. And here in New Hampshire, our governing body has denied funding for Planned Parenthood.

This situation was spurred on by some religious zealots who duped some Planned Parenthood workers into discussion about their work so that they could collect surreptitious video heavily edited to suggest (but not actually prove) that Planned Parenthood was doing something illegal and unethical. They are now using this video material in an attempt to destroy the best resource available to women in this country.

It is time to denounce the attempts by a narrow religious minority and its political henchmen to force its ill-conceived beliefs on the 300 million citizens of this country and to wrench us all back to my great grandfather's time.

Our planet has increasingly limited resources. Family planning and contraception are the miracles that have up to now both allowed and enhanced American prosperity and that will in the future make a critical difference as to whether the human race survives. Educating women worldwide and making women's health facilities and contraception available to all are vital to human sustainability.

Failing to do these things invites human tragedy. But failing to do them in the name of religion is the biggest folly of all. Given the inevitable misery and death that would ensue from putting barriers in the way of women's right to make their own choices and in effect forcing women to have children - this sounds a lot like some Middle Eastern countries that we read about in our newspapers every day. In America this smacks of a theocracy, not a democracy. It certainly does not represent any version of the religion of peace and love that I believe in. doclink

The Affordable Care Act and Cost of Contraception

   September 3, 2015, Journalist's Resource   By: Kathryn M. Barker

Under the ACA, private health plans must cover birth control methods that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration without charging out-of-pocket costs. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that some businesses can claim religious objections and forgo birth-control coverage for employees. However the importance of contraceptive coverage under the ACA has been shown by several new studies: The proportion of women who paid nothing out of pocket for birth control pills rose from 15% in 2012 - before the federal requirement took effect - to 67% in 2014 - after it was implemented. Women saw large decrease in out-of-pocket spending for contraceptives after ACA mandate removed cost sharing. doclink

Editorial: Birth Control, Sex Education Prevent Abortions Better Than Gotcha Videos

   July 28, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The late Dr. Alan Guttmacher, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America wrote "those who oppose and those who favor legalization of abortion share a common goal - the elimination of all abortion," through better, safer, cheaper contraception. ... "Each abortion bespeaks medical or social failure."

Serious opponents of abortion should be lined up to support birth control clinics. They should sponsor sex education programs. They should help mothers find work so they can feed and educate their children. They should do these things instead of trying to defund a nonprofit organization that provides services to women and poor people.

The two videos released by the Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood Drs. Deborah Nucatola in one video, and Mary Gatter in a second video, casually and bluntly discussing body parts over lunch. It is disturbing to people who are not doctors, but that's how doctors talk. In private, many medical professionals are not necessarily delicate about describing medical procedures. It is clear that the doctors in the videos think they are talking with people who aare fetal tissue buyers.

David Daleiden, founder of the California-based Center for Medical Progress, says the videos show the organization's plan to "sell baby parts." But the videos were heavily edited to distort and take out of context the language and tone used.

Planned Parenthood inflames least two political passions -- opposition to abortion and opposition to government programs for the poor.

There have been other lies. In 2011, then-Senate Republican whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said on the Senate floor that abortion constitutes "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." However abortions make up less than 3% of Planned Parenthood services.

Now there is a call in Congress for the organization should be defunded.

Donating fetal tissue is a life-saving effort and the women who choose to do so should be commended, not treated like they are participating in a criminal undertaking. Fetal tissue is used for medical research to help find treatments and cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. doclink

Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video

   July 21, 2015,   By: Dave Levitan and Lori Robertson

A secretly recorded video showing a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the procurement of fetal tissues when conducting abortions has led several Republican presidential candidates to claim that Planned Parenthood is "profiting" from abortions.

But the full, unedited version of the video they cite as evidence shows the executive, Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services, repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research.

Four experts in the field of human tissue procurement were interviewed by Fact Check and said that the price range discussed in the video -- $30 to $100 per patient -- represents a reasonable fee. Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital's biorepository said "There's no way there's a profit at that price."

The edited video, released July 14 by the Center for Medical Progress, showed a discussion between Nucatola and two people posing as employees of a company looking to procure fetal tissue for research purposes.

At one point in the unedited video (which was also released by the group), Nucatola says: "Affiliates are not looking to make money by doing this. They're looking to serve their patients and just make it not impact their bottom line." .. "The messaging is this should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that's not what it is." In the video, Nucatola, in a tone which House Speaker John Boehner condemned as "cavalier", discusses which tissues are valued by researchers and how to preserve those tissues while conducting abortions.

Republicans presidential candidate Rick Perry said that the video is a disturbing reminder of the organization's penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life. Rand Paul talked of a video showing [Planned Parenthood]'s top doctor describing how she performs late-term abortions to sell body parts for profit! Carly Fiorina: This latest news is tragic and outrageous. This isn't about "choice." It's about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it's about empowerment.

In the full video Nucatola said that the $30 to $100 charge for a tissue specimen would be reimbursement for expenses related to handling and transportation of the tissues.

Sherilyn J. Sawyer said "The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high. Most hospitals will provide tissue blocks from surgical procedures for research, and cost recover for their time and effort in the range of $100-500 per case/block."

Jim Vaught, president of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories and formerly the deputy director of the National Cancer Institute's Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research, Carolyn Compton, the chief medical and science officer of Arizona State University's National Biomarkers Development Alliance and a former director of biorepositories and biospecimen research at the National Cancer Institute, both said that the $30-$100 is reasonable and not enough to make a profit.

Nucatola also said: "Really their bottom line is, they want to break even. Every penny they save is just pennies they give to another patient. To provide a service the patient wouldn't get." She also said that the patients are the ones who elect to donate the tissue for medical research.

Planned Parenthood stated on it's website: "At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does -- with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards. There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field."

Cecile Richards, the Planned Parenthood president, said in a video response to the controversy: "The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true."

A second, similar video was released by the Center for Medical Progress on July 21, again featuring a discussion about tissue prices with a Planned Parenthood official in a restaurant. The numbers mentioned in the second edited video are similar to what Nucatola said.

Another presidential candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson called the practice discussed in the video a "clear violation of federal law." However, while the "sale" of organs, both adult and fetal, for transplantation is illegal, but donation of tissue -- both from aborted fetuses and from adults -- is not. And payment for "reasonable" costs is also allowed under the law.

Tissue from fetuses has been used since the 1930s for a variety of purposes, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The 1954 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to researchers who managed to grow polio vaccine in fetal kidney cell cultures. A cell line from an aborted fetus in the early 1960s was used by Leonard Hayflick to create vaccines against measles, rubella, shingles and other diseases, saving millions of lives.

Lately, stem cells have replaced fetal tissue for therapeutic and research purposes. doclink

States Take a Stand Against Parental Involvement Laws

   July 17, 2015, National Partnership for Women and Families

A majority of states have limited young women's access to abortion by passing parental involvement laws, and many of those states are further restricting the process by which minors can seek a court's permission to obtain an abortion without having to involve a parent or guardian. However, lawmakers in some states -- including Maine and New Mexico -- have managed to block such restrictions.

Illinois, Maine, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas, and New Mexico are among the states currently having issues with parental involvement.

* doclink

Feds Set Final Rules for Birth Control Mandate

   July 3, 2015, Hill   By: Sarah Ferris

The Obama administration on July 3 took the final step toward ensuring that women can keep their birth control coverage even if their employer refuses to provide it on religious grounds.

The administration released regulations that allow women to receive contraceptive services without co-payments even if their employer objects. The new rules also expand the definition of businesses that can seek exemptions from the ObamaCare contraception mandate, which is one of the most controversial pieces of ObamaCare, and has been at the set of multiple lawsuits, most notably Hobby Lobby.

To appease religious-affiliated groups that continue to wage legal battles against the mandate, for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby will be allowed to more easily opt out of the contraception mandate, a ruling that is drawing criticism from Democrats.

"Today's announcement allows a wide range of businesses power over the health care decisions of the women they employ, and shows once again why the Supreme Court's deeply harmful ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is completely unacceptable," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a statement.

"What this means for women is that you will be able to get birth control without a copay, no matter where you work," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, who has lobbied for the regulation.

For-profit companies can now take a stand against the contraception rule for religious reasons if they are not publicly traded and are owned "by a relatively small number of individuals." This definition goes beyond the Supreme Court's decision last year, which said that "closely held companies" should not be forced to comply with the rule against religious objections. doclink

Keep Funding Title X!

   Sierra Club   By: Dane Kamin

Congress is now considering reducing and possibly even eliminating funding for the Title X program. This will increase the cost of other government programs by seven times the amount of the cuts. Title X is the federal program signed into law by Richard Nixon (Republican) in 1970 to help provide low-income families with voluntary family planning. Without the program, some of those in poverty will ultimately have more children than they want, many of whom may have to rely on public assistance. Other women will decide to have an abortion.

Title X gives low income families a chance to have the size family they want.

Contact your U.S. Congressman and Senators and ask them to increase funding for Title X. If you lean toward the conservative side, ask them to do it to reduce the number of abortions, save money, and help those in poverty get out of poverty. If you lean toward the liberal side, ask them to do it to reduce global warming (more people means more greenhouse gasses and more global warming), and help those in poverty get out of poverty. doclink

Number of Women in Need of Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Increased by Nearly One Million Between 2010 and 2013

Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Helped Women Avoid Two Million Unintended Pregnancies in 2013
   Guttmacher Institute

Twenty million U.S. women were in need of publicly funded family planning services in 2013 -- 5% more than in 2010, according to a report "Contraceptive Needs and Services." This growth reflects the increase in the number of adults with a family income below 250% of the federal poverty level, or teens regardless of family income, who were sexually active, able to conceive and did not want to become pregnant.

The services of publicly funded family planning providers helped women prevent two million unintended pregnancies, one million of which would have resulted in unplanned births and 693,000 in abortions. Without these services, rates of unintended pregnancies, unplanned births and abortions in the United States would have all been 60% higher.

At the same time the need grew by 5%, Congress slashed funding for the Title X national family planning program by 12% and plans to cut funding even further, or eliminate it altogether. Kinsey Hasstedt, Guttmacher Institute public policy associate said: "This program isn't just good public health policy, it results in considerable savings. By helping women avoid pregnancies they do not want, the services Title X supports save $7 for every public dollar invested."

Title X clinics served 4.1 million women in 2013, allowing women to avoid one million unintended pregnancies, 501,000 unplanned births and 345,000 abortions. Without these contraceptive services, levels of unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy would be 30% higher.

Title X clinics also provides preconception health care and counseling, STI testing and treatment, vaccines to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) and Pap tests.

"Policymakers at all levels should be doing everything they can to support this critical safety net, which is vital to the health and well-being of millions of women and their families," said Hasstedt.

Click on the link in the headline to see a great infographic on the subject. doclink

Senate Takes Aim at Family Planning, Teen Pregnancy Prevention

   June 25, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Laura Bassett

A week after the House of Representatives proposed eliminating the entire Title X federal family planning program and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Senate decided instead to just cut funding for the programs. Although Federal law prohibits direct funding for any abortion services, conservatives oppose Title X because some of its funds go to clinics that also perform abortions. Lila Rose, president of the anti-abortion group Live Action, said. "The proposed budget that cuts Title X funding is a welcome reform to those who do not want their tax dollars going toward killing pre-born children and underwriting the abortion industry." (

The Title X program subsidized 4,100 health clinics nationwide and provided no- or low-cost family planning services to individuals who earn less than about $25,000 a year, including HIV testing and sexually transmitted disease screenings and treatment to about 4.6 million low-income patients nation-wide. Since 2011, when House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) threatened to shut down the federal government to force more cuts, House Republicans have worked to kill funding for these programs. Now that Republicans control the Senate, supporters feared that both chambers would try to kill Title X. But a Senate appropriations subcommittee bill instead cut $28.7 million from the family planning program (to about $258 million) a year and $81 million (80%) from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. While House Republicans have not killed Title X outright, they have cut services to about 700,000 patients, according to the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.

When the House and Senate pass their respective budget bills, they will have to decide in conference how to reconcile their differences on Title X. Obama, a strong supporter of the family planning program, would likely veto any bill that completely axed the program. doclink

Affordability is Key to Access to Contraception

   June 14, 2015, Los Angeles Times

Employers who provide prescription drug coverage were not compelled to cover prescription birth control before 2000. Since then the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted a mandate requiring insurers to cover birth control with no co-pay.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in 2012 that oral contraceptives are safe enough to be available over the counter because they carry less medical risks than pregnancy and have fewer side effects than many medicines already available over the counter at grocery stores. New laws already enacted in a few states allow women to buy some oral contraceptives without a prescription. That would seem to improve access except where women must buy them without insurance.

Senate Bill 1438, introduced by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) would incentivize drug companies to apply for FDA permission to make their prescription contraceptives available over the counter by giving the drugs priority review and waiving the fee to apply. But the bill would also repeal the ACA's ban on using a flexible spending account for non-prescription medications. The problem is that ACA only requires insurers to cover prescription drugs, not over-the-counter medications. After having to pay nothing for contraceptives under ACA, many -- if not all -- women would have to pay out of pocket. If the FDA approves making oral contraceptives available over the counter, Congress should continue to require insurers to cover its cost.

Opponents of the bill, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have pointed out that affordability is necessary to make birth control truly accessible. Oral contraceptives can cost the uninsured as much as $600 a year. Furthermore, the bill would bar anyone younger than 18 from purchasing the pills over the counter (although they could still get them with a doctor's prescription).

To resolve such problems, Senate Bill 1532, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) calls for complete insurance coverage of any oral contraceptive after it goes from prescription to over the counter, and it sets no age requirement for purchase. The Senate should enact this bill. If the FDA approves making oral contraceptives available over the counter, Congress should continue to require insurers to cover the cost. doclink

California Senate Committee Would Boost Medi-Cal, Including for Undocumented

   May 22, 2015, New America Media   By: Viji Sundaram

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the Health for All bill (Senate Bill, or SB 4) that will allow low-income immigrant families in California to get medical care through the state's health insurance program for low-income people called Medi-Cal (California's name for Medicaid). Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. "It will make a big impact on our health care system and on our economy."

The bill would also allow undocumented immigrants whose incomes are above the Medi-Cal eligibility limit to purchase insurance through Covered California, the state's online marketplace.

About one-third of California's estimated 500,000 undocumented residents can afford to purchase insurance through the marketplace on their own, according to Lara.

If SB 4 is signed into law, the state would seek a federal waiver to allow undocumented immigrants to purchase insurance on the marketplace, but without providing them the federal subsidies now available to documented consumers.

The $40 million approved by the Senate Budget Subcommittee Thursday represents only a fraction of what it would need, but it would help get SB 4 off the ground.

SB 4 is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee and is likely to come up for a vote on May 28. If it passes, it would go before the full Senate in early June and from there on to the Assembly.

Follow this bill: doclink

Karen Gaia says: Integrated health care is the best way to deliver reproductive health care and family planning methods. Without it people fall through the cracks.

U.S.: Birth Control That Works Too Well

   May 20, 2015, Nation (US)   By: Katha Pollitt

In 2009, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation donated over $23 million to the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, a five-year program that offered 30,000 participants low-income teenage girls and young women long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) -- IUDs or hormonal implants -- at no cost.

These devices have a 1% failure rate because they no further action once inserted and remain effective for years. The Pill failure rate under real use is 10 times higher. Unfortunately, the upfront cost of a LARC can be as high as $1,200. Two other barriers: 1) many teens fear the insurance claim forms sent to their parents would reveal they are sexually active, 2) many women don't know about LARCs and assume the cheaper pills available at clinics are their only option.

The participants in the Initiative, where they were given the opportunity to make an informed decision at no cost, chose LARCs. This resulted in a 40% decline in teen births, and a 34% decline in teen abortions. And for every dollar spent on the program, the state saved $5.85 in short-term Medicaid costs, in addition to other cost reductions and the enormous social benefit of freeing low-income teens from unwanted pregnancies and what too often follows: dropping out of school, unready motherhood, and poverty.

Because Colorado's state government was in Democratic hands when the program began, and the initiative enjoyed some bipartisan support, the foundation picked Colorado for its pilot program. The idea was that the state would take it over if the initiative showed positive results. But Republicans won control of the State Senate last November and GOP lawmakers killed it. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility.

Republican State Senator Kevin Lundberg said using an IUD could mean "stopping a small child from implanting."

Dr. David Turok, a leading expert on the IUD, said that a massive amount of scientific evidence shows that the devices work by preventing fertilization. It is "theoretically possible" that IUDs can prevent implantation, Turok said, "but the chances are infinitesimally small."

"We're providing this long-term birth control and telling girls, 'You don't have to worry. You're covered,'" said Representative Kathleen Conti. "That does allow a lot of young ladies to go out there and look for love in all the wrong places."

Has the fear of pregnancy worked well enough to keep girls virginal?

Others claimed: IUDs cause breast cancer (unproved). STD rates are up (actually, they've stayed the same, which strongly suggests LARCs don't increase sexual activity). Republican Senator Ellen Roberts wanted to know why -- since no-cost birth control is already provided by the Affordable Care Act -- should the state pay for the program? Because the ACA doesn't cover everyone; it doesn't guarantee teens' privacy; and the fine print has allowed insurance companies to refuse to cover the more expensive, more effective methods.

"The place where efforts to provide LARCs get distorted is that you have to acknowledge that human beings have sex, and some are young and some are not married," said Turok.

The problem with LARCs may be that they work only too well. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Also doctors often stand in the way of teens getting LARCs, saying they shouldn't have one if they have never had a child, or that the LARC would lead to slutty behavior.

Pro-Lifers Change Their Minds When Abortion Gets Personal

   May 19, 2015, Cut   By: Alex Ronan

Tennessee representative Scott DesJarlais opposes abortion, has run repeatedly as a pro-life candidate, and routinely votes in favor of restricting reproductive rights. In early May DesJarlais voted in favor of the 20-week abortion ban. Yet in 2012 a tape surfaced of a conversation DesJarlais had recorded between himself and his mistress back in 2000 where he pressured her to get an abortion. This raised a scandal which coincided with his reelection campaign. DesJarlais denied that there was a pregnancy.

A divorce trial transcript from 2001 demonstrated that DesJarlais had also supported his ex-wife's decision to get two abortions before their marriage. The first was a "therapeutic" abortion because she was on medication that could cause birth defects and retardation. The second was because "things were not going well between us" and the abortion was a "mutual decision."

Polls have shown repeatedly the same sort of dynamic, where people who identify as pro-life support abortion when it's discussed as an individual decision rather than an abstract judgment between right and wrong. When Jon Pennington interviewed people while working on his Ph.D. on the pro-life movement: a woman he interviewed said, "Most pro-life women oppose abortion with four exceptions: rape, incest, the life of the mother, and me." doclink

The Family Planning Cuts That the Texas Legislature Forced Through Are Having Dire Consequences

   May 12, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

In the summer of 2013, a high-profile battle over a proposed package of abortion restrictions in Texas sparked huge protests, dominated national headlines, and spurred Wendy Davis to run for governor. But that was only the beginning.

New abortion restrictions have forced at least half of the state's clinics to close their doors. These came on top of a growing health crisis impacting Texas' nearly 27 million residents that occurred after the GOP-controlled state legislature in 2011 slashed funding for family planning services by two-thirds and dismantled the state's network of family planning providers in an effort to exclude Planned Parenthood.

A survey by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project -- based at the University of Texas at Austin -- reports that more than half of Texas women have faced at least one barrier to getting the reproductive health services they need. 76 women's health clinics have been forced to close, leaving low-income and rural women struggling to access basic preventative services like Pap smears, STD tests, and birth control consultations. Impoverished immigrant communities living in rural parts of the state have recently starting organizing in an effort to hold Texas officials accountable for what they say are human rights violations.

Women in one of the largest states in the country are struggling to get to a clinic for their gender-based health needs. Respondents reported that they lacked childcare, lacked transportation, or had difficulty taking time off of work or school to make the trip.

Texas is one of the GOP-controlled states that continues to refuse to accept Obamacare's optional Medicaid expansion, leaving more than one million people locked out of affordable health care coverage altogether. Since Texas has such a high population of uninsured residents and such stringent eligibility requirements for its Medicaid program in the absence of expansion, the Lone Star State is home to 25% of the people across the country who fall into this coverage gap.

Many immigrant women in Texas report that they're not receiving culturally competent care and therefore struggle to build trust with their doctors. Other issues are that they can't pay for the services they need or have issues getting their clinic visits covered, as well as having to look for new doctors.

After the state's health department projected a sharp rise in unintended births as a direct result of the budget cuts, Texas lawmakers have attempted to take some steps to restore the funding for family planning services. But it will take years for Texas to truly recover from the damage wrought by the deep cuts to its family planning network.

Meanwhile, legislators show no signs of slowing down the ongoing assault against reproductive health access, for example, slashing cancer screenings for low-income women and banning insurance plans from offering any type of coverage for abortion services. doclink

The White House Just Got Aggressive Enforcing Obamacare's Birth Control Mandate

   May 11, 2015, VOX Media   By: Sarah Kliff

Obamacare has required health insurers to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives with no cost to the patient, including not just the pill, but the patch, IUDs, and even sterilization.

However, insurance companies have been skirting this mandate. Two recent investigations -- one by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and another by the National Women's Law Center -- found violations, and some insurers seemed to blatantly disregard the mandate. The KFF study looked at a sample of 20 insurers in five states. It found one did not cover the birth control ring and four "couldn't ascertain" whether they covered birth control implants.

More common, however, was a measure called "reasonable medical management," where insurers restrict access to certain medications on the basis that equally effective options costs less. This tactic was often used with birth control patches and rings, which use the same hormones as pills but have a slightly worse failure rate than the pill. On these contraceptives, 9 out of 100 women using them will become pregnant within a year, versus a 6% failure rate with the pill. Since the pill can be slightly cheaper than the patch and the ring, the KFF study found that some plans limit access to rings and patches, offering the pill as an equally effective option. One insurer told KFF that it "cover a birth control pill with no cost-sharing and therefore charges cost-sharing for the NuvaRing, which has the same chemical composition." Another insurer charges cost-sharing and requires enrollees to "show medical necessity on why oral contraceptives are not suitable before they will cover the NuvaRing."

To crack down on violators, the new guidelines, released May 11, clarify that insurance plans must cover, without co-payments, all of the 18 types of contraceptives that the FDA has found to be safe and effective, even when the prescription calls for sterilization or an IUD, which can cost up to $1,000. They also clarify that using reasonable medical management to reduce payments is not legal.

While insurers must cover all FDA- approved contraceptive types, they need not cover every approved product. For example, they can offer coverage for the generic birth control patch and refuse to pay for the brand-name one. But an insurance plan cannot deny a woman coverage for a birth control patch and ask her to use pills instead. This new guidance makes that flatly illegal.

Overall, reproductive health advocates prefer the new guidelines. "It is past time for insurers to adhere to the law and stop telling women that their chosen method isn't covered or that they must pay for it," Gretchen Borchelt, Vice President for Reproductive Rights at the National Women's Law Center, stated. "We welcome the Administration's guidance and know it will go a long way to improve the health and economic well-being of women and their families." doclink

Report Ranks U.S. Last Among Developed Countries for Maternal Health

   May 7, 2015, National Partnership for Women and Families

An annual report by Save the Children provides a global ranking of the best and worst countries for maternal health and other motherhood-related measures, Time magazine reports. In addition to maternal health, the report considers economics, education, children's well-being, and women's political status.

Averaging all measures, the U.S. ranked as the 33rd best country for mothers out of 179 surveyed countries, down from 31st the previous year (2014). But on maternal health the U.S. ranked 61st. One per 1,800 U.S. women experience a pregnancy-related death, 10 times the rates for Austria, Belarus and Poland. What's more, U.S. infant mortality (death of baby within the first year) is 6.1 per 1,000 live births. (compare to 2.13 in Japan). Washington, D.C. had the highest infant mortality rate among the 25 surveyed capitals of high-income nations, and some U.S. cities -- including Cleveland and Detroit -- had even higher rates. Time magazine correlated high infant mortality with premature births, inadequate prenatal care, low incomes, education, race, age and marital status. doclink

It's Not Enough to Just Mention Condoms -- Sex Education Should Be Sex-Positive

   April 22, 2015, RH Reality Check   By: Amanda Marcotte

Early in his administration, Obama stopped the requirement that sex education programs teach that abstinence is the only legitimate way to prevent pregnancy and STI transmission. Some states have resisted, but at least the Federal government no longer requires abstinence only. Still, although "abstinence-only" is fading, most sex education programs still imply that sex is evil and could even kill you.

After reviewing some of the content in her son's sex education class at East Lansing High School, Medical historian Alice Dreger joined friends who wanted her to get involved in school board debates over what exactly would be taught in sex ed classes. Administrators emphasized that they do not teach abstinence-only and that "the curriculum (which was developed by a crisis pregnancy center) also reviews contraception choices." Most parents would settle for that. But Dreger concluded that the sex education she observed was more terror-based than abstinence-based." Abstinence-only educators basically hold to the "don't even think about it" line where contraception is concerned. The victory over that approach had not been as big as she and others had hoped. Based on her account, the current class teaches that sex is a shameful activity, premarital sex is evil, people who do it are dirty, and men and women should adhere to traditional gender roles. The new program was not "abstinence-only," but conservatives were still using "sex ed" to brand kids as failures if they chose to have sex without marriage.

The rebranding effort is not all locally based. Congress is allocating $25 million annually to "risk-avoidance education" based on many real and imagined consequences that are likely to follow premarital sex. This amounts to new packaging for abstinence-only. Amanda Marcotte compares this to schools trying to convince kids that owning a pet is evil by displaying pictures of ugly dog bites, telling sob stories about cat allergies, and playing games where everyone who gets a pet ends up with a serious problem. Even those who survive pet ownership end up sad because their pets will eventually die. Teaching responsible pet ownership should not make kids see pets as evil. The same applies to non-marital or pre-marital sex. Only 62% of Americans own pets, but 95% have premarital sex, and most of them find in it a positive experience. Some people may view that as bad, but most of us do not. Kids need education in responsible sexuality, but overall they should not be given negative attitudes about sex. Sex education should offer a non-slanted fact-based education that allows parents and/or religious leaders to express opinions outside the classroom if they wish.

Most of us don't buy the implication that kids should wait a decade or more until marriage before having sex. We want our young people to grow up looking forward to a future of fun, fulfilling sex, not to teach them that it's a thing that they will probably do but should feel bad about. doclink

It's Still Pretty Hard for Women to Get Free Birth Control

   March 19, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Emily Cohn

Until recently Emily Cohn got free birth control - a tangible effect of the Affordable Care Act (AFC or Obamacare). But when her CVS pharmacist charged her $20 for a 28-day supply, she said, "I understand Obamacare. I shouldn't be getting charged for birth control." What troubled her most wasn't paying $20 for some pills. She could afford it, but she could not understand the change. Her CVS pharmacists didn't know why she was being charged, and the customer service rep at her employer's benefit manager couldn't clarify it either, so she consulted a lawyer. That is a privilege she has as a journalist writing a story for a widely read publication.

"You're supposed to be getting birth control without cost-sharing," or copays, said Mara Gandal-Powers, a counsel for health and reproductive rights at the National Women's Law Center. Under AFC, all insurance plans cover the full cost of recommended preventive medical services, like screenings for certain types of cancer and immunizations. The law identified contraception as one of these preventative services, and it intended that all FDA-approved forms of contraception be covered free. The financial benefits are obvious: In 2013, women saved nearly $500 million on out-of-pocket-costs for birth control. As of last spring, 67% of insured women paid nothing for the birth control pill, up from 15% before health care reform took effect.

But, according to Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager for The Huffington Post's parent company, AOL, insurance plans can use "reasonable medical management techniques" to encourage customers to get care at a lower cost, Gandal-Powers said. So "The pharmacy plan provided by your employer can offer 100% coverage for contraceptive medications only when the plan's home delivery pharmacy fills them," said the Express Scripts spokeswoman. A rule change that took effect in January, so free pills must now come via mail from Express Scripts. They defended the process by saying, "Studies show that patients who use Express Scripts' home delivery pharmacy for chronic medications have greater adherence to their medication, which is crucial for the effectiveness of contraceptive medications. For these reasons, your plan has decided to require the dispensing of contraceptive medications via home delivery."

For Cohn, this required a new prescription from my doctor for three packs at a time and setting up a mail delivery with Express Scripts. For thousands of other women, it will be more of a hassle. Some women don't want to have birth control delivered because they don't want those they live with to know they're using contraception, and some can't get packages delivered without the risk of theft, Gandal-Powers noted. This group could include minors living with their parents, or women who are in abusive relationships.

Many of Cohn's colleagues had not figured this out. They told her they have always paid at least $20 a month for birth control, even though they should be getting it totally free. One woman who said she picks up a bunch of prescriptions at once admitted to not even noticing which ones she was paying for and which ones she wasn't. Another who did switch was frustrated that mail order was now the only choice. A third was planning to switch to an intrauterine device, or IUD, so "I won't have to worry about it for five years."

Gandal-Powers offered some steps these for women who are still paying for birth control:

1. Make sure this part of the law actually applies to your insurance plan. As of last fall, Obamacare hadn't kicked in yet for one in four people on employer-based plans. These "grandfathered" plans must eventually follow the law, but until then, they can still charge for birth control.

2. Ask your insurance company why you're still getting charged. If you think shouldn't be getting charged, there is an appeals process.

3. If you get your insurance through work, ask your employer's HR department about your problem, Gandal-Powers suggested. "They have a lot of power," she said.

Free birth control for all women was a lofty promise, but women must still do a lot of work to ensure they get the rights they are guaranteed under the law. doclink

U.S.: Unintended Pregnancies Cost Federal and State Governments $21 Billion in 2010

   February 27, 2015, Guttmacher Institute   By: Adam Sonfield and Kathryn Kost.

A study "Public Costs from Unintended Pregnancies and the Role of Public Insurance Programs in Paying for Pregnancy-Related Care: National and State Estimates for 2010," showed that U.S. government expenditures on births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21 billion in 2010. In 19 states, public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies exceeded $400 million in 2010. Texas spent the most ($2.9 billion), followed by California ($1.8 billion), New York ($1.5 billion) and Florida ($1.3 billion); those four states are also the nation's most populous.

51% of the four million births in the United States in 2010 were publicly funded, including 68% of unplanned births and 38% of planned births.

Prior research has shown that investing in publicly funded family planning services enables women to avoid unwanted pregnancies and space wanted ones, which is good not only for women and families, but also for society as a whole. In the absence of the current U.S. publicly funded family planning effort, the public costs of unintended pregnancies in 2010 would have been 75% higher.

Adam Sonfield, one of the authors, said. "Reducing public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies requires substantial new public investments in family planning services." ... "That would mean strengthening existing programs, such as the Title X family planning program, as well as working to ensure that the Affordable Care Act achieves its full potential to bolster Medicaid and other safety-net programs. We know we can prevent unintended pregnancies and the related costs. There are public programs in place that do it already, but as these data show, there is significantly more progress to be made." doclink

The Human Costs of Chris Christie's Attack on Planned Parenthood

   February 26, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, right-wing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), a potential presidential contender said, "I ran as a pro-life candidate in 2009 unapologetically," ... " I was the first governor to ever speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of the statehouse in the state of New Jersey," ... "And I vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times out of the New Jersey budget."

In 2010, Christie cut off $7.5 million that had supported 58 family planning clinics, eliminating state funding altogether. The New Jersey Spotlight reported at the time, "For a state that began financially backing family-planning clinics in 1967, increased grants nearly every year since then, and endeavored to build a network accessible to all women in every county, it's a 180-degree turn."

As a result, there has been more than a 25% decrease in the state network's capacity to meet the need for family planning services among New Jersey's impoverished residents. Nine health centers have been forced to close.

Although the state legislature repeatedly tried to restore the funding cuts, but Christie resisted every year. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) accused him of pandering to the social conservatives who might support a 2016 presidential run.

"Women and families in communities across New Jersey have lost access to cancer screenings, prenatal care, STD testing and treatment and birth control," she said.

Concurrently, the federal Title X funds used for family planning clinics have suffered from a lower budget and increased load.

Supporting family planning isn't antithetical to Republicans' priorities. Some GOP leaders recognize the financial benefits of Title X. Earlier this year, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)'s audit of federal anti-poverty programs acknowledged that the program is "moderately effective" at providing low-income women with health services. doclink

Republicans' Curious Ideas About Contraception

   February 16, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Laura Stepp

Much of the Republican opposition to making contraception easily available and affordable relates to family planning clinics providing abortions. For example, Title X Family Planning provides contraception to low-income and uninsured women, but since the payments often go to Planned Parenthood, some Republicans want to kill the whole program.

Surveys of U.S. women show that half of all pregnancies (more than 3 million annually) are unplanned, and most abortions follow unplanned pregnancies. So making birth control less affordable and accessible results in more abortions, more children born into financially strapped families, and high welfare and health care costs, which lawmakers would like to avoid. Title X has suffered millions of dollars' worth of cuts since 2010. Consequently, the number of people served by Title X in 2013 was down by over 600,000 from the 5.2 million served in 2010.

Oklahoma, a state that makes it difficult to obtain contraception and family planning services, has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate. State Rep. Dr. Doug Cox has practiced medicine there. Last April he criticized his party's stance on reproductive rights in Rolling Stone magazine. He said: "Abortion is one thing, but when you start talking about limiting contraceptives, that's going too far. If you truly oppose abortions, you should do everything in your power to prevent unwanted pregnancy - from abstinence, to condoms, to birth control pills, all the way to the IUDs and morning-after pills...." He also opposed a proposed bill making it more difficult for teenagers under 17 to obtain the morning-after pill. A 14-year-old boy can go to the truck stop and buy all the condoms he wants. He can control his destiny. This bill takes the ability to control their destiny away from women.

99% of sexually active U.S. women, and 98% percent of Catholic women, have used birth control at some point in their lives. A Gallup poll found that 88% of Republican adults and 93% of Democrats say that using birth control is morally acceptable. The issue is not whether birth control should be available; it is how accessible the newest and most effective methods are, how much they should cost and, who should pay for them.

Many polls indicate that ordinary citizens appear more open to contraception than the lawmakers who claim to represent them. A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 8 in 10 Americans - including some Tea Party Republicans - favored expanding access to birth control for women who cannot afford it. doclink

Statement From Republican Majority for Choice on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe V. Wade

   January 22, 2015, GOP Choice   By: GOP Choice

As we mark the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, we are reminded of the critical real life situations and necessary health protections that brought the right to choose to the forefront. We, like millions of other Republicans, believe in the GOP core values of individual freedom and safeguarding the constitutional protections of privacy and the separation of Church and State. Yet, decades after the historic Roe ruling, we struggle with how personal freedom is too often disregarded in political gamesmanship.

We applaud the level of common sense that resulted in the GOP tabling the abortion ban (H.R. 36) today. Regardless of personal views on the issue of abortion, provisions in this bill went too far, violating the private doctor-patient relationship, threatening to jail physicians and putting the health, future fertility and lives of women at risk. This proposal is particularly alarming due to the reporting requirement for victims of rape and incest to law enforcement officials. With the majority of rapes going unreported in the U.S., imposing such medically unnecessary restrictions only does more harm to women who have already survived assault. GOP members of varying ideological leanings saw that this legislation would harm women and is not the type of legislation that should be central in the GOP agenda.

This victory should not be overlooked, but this is not the end of our battle for common ground and solutions-based legislation. The politics of pressure from a vocal anti-choice lobby today led to the ultimate passage of H.R. 7. This so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill bars individuals to use their own money to purchase plans that offer abortion coverage and penalizes small businesses that offer their employees such coverage. Taxpayer funding of abortion has already been illegal since the enactment of the 1976 Hyde Amendment. The passage of H.R. 7 allowed fiction to win over fact.

As Republicans we are eager to work with all members of our party. Mainstream Republicans must be more vocal and counter the pressure to appease the anti-choice lobby. Instead of pandering on areas of disagreement on reproductive health- Republicans can take the lead to advance evidence-based initiatives that have already proven-effective at reducing the rates of unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy and abortion. RMC calls on all elected leaders to stop playing politics with personal freedom and understand that an unchecked anti-choice agenda has negative and lasting effect of the social and economic health of millions of women and families. doclink

Mississippi Wouldn't Allow This Teacher to Show Kids How to Use a Condom. His Simple Solution is Brilliant

   January 22, 2015, Mother Jones   By: Julia Lurie

In Mississippi, where education laws require "stressing" abstinence, teachers are prohibited from "any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied." Nonetheless, 76% of Mississippi teenagers report having sex before the end of high school, and a third of babies in the state are born to teenage mothers. One teacher came up with a creative solution for imparting some wisdom to students about condoms -- watch it below. doclink

U.S.: Is Inequality Killing US Mothers?

   January 16, 2015,   By: Andrea Flynn

It is no surprise that maternal mortality rates (MMRs) have risen in tandem with poverty rates. Women living in the lowest-income areas in the United States are twice as likely to suffer maternal death, and states with high rates of poverty have MMRs 77% higher than states with fewer residents living below the federal poverty level. Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women, and in some U.S. cities the MMR among Black women is higher than in some sub-Saharan African countries.

In terms of economic inequality it might as well be 1929, the last time the United States experienced such an extraordinary gulf between the rich and everyone else. Today 30% of Blacks, 25% of Hispanics (compared to only 10% of whites) live in poverty, and in certain states those percentages are even higher. Since 2008, the net worth of the poorest Americans has decreased and stagnant wages and increased debt has driven more middle class families into poverty. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Americans have enjoyed remarkable gains in wealth and income.

The Affordable Care Act is providing much-needed health coverage to many poor women for whom it was previously out of reach and if fully implemented could certainly help stem maternal deaths. But nearly 60% of uninsured Black Americans who should qualify for Medicaid live in states that are not participating in Medicaid expansion. doclink

U.S.: Congressman's New Jobs Plan: Deny Women Access to Abortion So They Can Make More Babies

   January 15, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) suggested that Republicans support restricting access to abortion because it will ultimately benefit the economy if women have more children. Goodlatte noted that carrying pregnancies to term "very much promotes job creation."

In reality, denying women autonomy over their reproductive lives is not a wise economic policy. Without access to affordable family planning services, women are less likely to be able to finish their education, advance their career, or achieve financial independence. The low-income women who end up carrying unwanted pregnancies to term end up slipping deeper into poverty and struggling with long-term mental health issues. That ends up impacting the social safety net, putting a greater strain on the Medicaid program. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that every $1 invested into family planning programs yields more than $5 in savings for the U.S. government.

The female members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to Goodlatte stating: "As we urge Congress in 2014 to consider legislative action that would meaningfully address the economic insecurity currently facing millions of women and families, the Judiciary Committee's first action to mark up legislation that would harm women's access to reproductive health care is truly dispiriting," they wrote. "We strongly oppose this sweeping anti-choice bill." doclink

Listen Up, Legislators: People Want Better Sex Education Than What Many States Require

   January 9, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Rebecca Klein

A majority of U.S. states don't mandate sex education, even though two-thirds of Americans think students should get comprehensive birth control information at school.

Twenty-two% of poll participants who identify as Republican said they think teenagers should only be taught about abstinence, compared with 9% of participants who identify as Democrats. At the same time, 59% of Republicans said they think teenagers should be taught about various methods of birth control. Whites were somewhat more likely than minorities to support comprehensive sex ed. Those who currently have children under the age of 18 were almost twice as likely to say that teenagers should only be taught abstinence.

The poll found that 66% of respondents said they think sex education with information about various forms of contraception is more effective at reducing teen pregnancies than courses providing information on abstinence. This was especially true for respondents who identified as atheists or agnostics. Zero percent of this group reported thinking that courses stressing abstinence would reduce teen pregnancies, compared with 24%of Protestants and 19% of Catholics.
. . . more doclink

This Map Shows You All the Places Where the Pill is Free

These nations have government subsidies that make buying the pill free.
   January 3, 2015, Global Post   By: Simran Khosla

Can you imagine what would happen if birth control were subsidized in the United States?

While access to birth control and abortion are hot topics in the US, there are some places where the pill is more readily available.

Follow the link in the headline to see a map of the countries where the pill is free due to government subsidies. This map is compiled of data from a 2011 Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, curated by Slate, which examined reproductive laws around the world. doclink

The Devastating Consequences of Chipping Away at Family Planning Programs

   December 18, 2014, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

The federally funded family planning clinics, under the Title X program, are supposed to offer a safety net for low-income Americans are in crisis.

Title X clinics provide confidential reproductive health services on a sliding pay scale, including STD screening, Pap smears, and birth control consultations. Most patients are low-income and uninsured and would struggle to get that care elsewhere.

Clare Coleman, the president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents Title X providers, said "We're now in the fifth year where the network hasn't seen any increase in service dollars - there's no new money to provide health services." ... "So now you've got a system that's dropped a significant number of patients."

206,000 fewer patients have been served in 2013 compared to 2012.

Some of them gained new coverage under the health reform law and have since been absorbed into the private insurance market. It may also be that more women are opting for long-acting forms of birth control, and that they have also been instructed to get Pap smears less frequently. But many patients are simply unable to get the health services they need because the network isn't able to accommodate them.

Around 20 million women in the U.S. need access to publicly funded contraception, reports the Guttmacher Institute. Coleman says that Title X clinics have historically only been able to meet about a third of that need. As more Americans slipped into poverty after the recent economic recession, Title X's patient load increased, but its budget didn't.

In 2011 Congress attempted to wholly defund the program. Recently abortion opponents simply took the fight to the states. New Jersey, Montana, Texas, and Maine have all slashed family planning funding.

Guttmacher's research has actually shown that the program is one of the best investments that lawmakers can make. U.S. taxpayers save $7 for every dollar the government spends on family planning, largely because the care provided at publicly funded family planning clinics can help prevent millions of unplanned pregnancies.

In Texas anti-abortion lawmakers fighting against Planned Parenthood have upended the entire family planning landscape, leaving low-income and rural women struggling to get the basic care they need. doclink

U.S.: Religious Groups Challenge Birth Control Coverage Under Obamacare

A federal court in Denver will hear objections to a birth-control rule has been among the most divisive aspects of the Obama administration's health care overhaul. Some advocates for women praise the mandate, but some religious groups have decried it as an attack on religious freedom.
   December 8, 2014, Christian Science Monitor   By: Kristen Wyatt

A group of Colorado nuns called Little Sisters of the Poor, and also four Christian colleges in Oklahoma are already exempt from covering contraceptives under the federal health care law. But they say the exemption doesn't go far enough because they must sign away the coverage to another party, making them feel complicit in providing the contraceptives.

The government will argue that its 2013 rule on religious groups and contraceptives, which requires only that a religious group sign "a self-certification form stating that it is an eligible organization," does not make that religious group complicit in providing contraceptives.

The rule "does not require nonprofit religious organizations with religious objections to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for that coverage," lawyers for the federal government wrote in a 2013 filing.

The nuns' lawyer, Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said the government is free to provide contraception coverage on its own without needing any action at all by the religious institutions. The government wants such coverage to come through the institutions' own plans, he said. doclink

Birth Control's Huge Impact on Life and the Economy (Infographic)

   December 5, 2014, Planned Parenthood Action Fund   By: Planned Parenthood Action

Bloomberg Businessweek magazine just ranked the pill as the ninth most important invention that transformed the business sector in the past 85 years. Bloomberg's full ranking shows the magazine's take on the 85 most disruptive ideas that time -- ideas that changed the world.

Since Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger coined the term "birth control" in 1914, contraception has truly revolutionized women's lives in the United States, and around the world. The timeline below starts that year and ends, 100 years later, in 2014 -- as 99 percent of sexually active women report using at least one form of birth control at some point in their lives.

Follow the link in the headline to see the infographic where you can brush up on your birth control history, and see just how far we've come in 100 years.

See The 85 Most Disruptive Ideas in Our History #9 The Pill

Download the infographic as a PDF or as a hi-res PNG file doclink

White Women: Let's Get Our Sh*t Together

   November 5, 2014, RH Reality Check   By: Andrea Grimes

When Wendy Davis ran for the Texas gubernatorial election, there was much concern over what the Hispanic lady voter would do: Are they too socially conservative to support Wendy Davis?

As it turned out, among voters, 94% of Black women, 90% of Black men, 61% of Latinas, and 49% of Latinos in Texas voted for Wendy Davis. In contrast, only 32% of white Texas women voters actually voted for Wendy Davis. Time and time again, people of color have stood up for reproductive rights, for affordable health care, for immigrant communities while white folks vote a straight "I got mine" party ticket.

A vote for Wendy Davis meant a vote for strong public school funding, for Texas Medicaid expansion, for affordable family planning care, for environmental reforms, for access to a full spectrum of reproductive health-care options.

A vote for Greg Abbott meant a vote for empowering big industry and big political donors, for cutting public school funds and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, for overturning Roe v. Wade, and - a vote for the status quo.

There are many factors contributed to America's rightward dive over the cliff: Citizens United, racist gerrymandering and voter ID laws, but there is also the historical crisis of empathy in the white community, one much older than gerrymandered congressional districts or poll taxes.

In choosing Greg Abbott Tuesday white women choose the fact that our children will always have access to education, that our daughters will always be able to fly to California or New York for abortion care, that our mothers will always be able to get that crucial Pap smear.

We chose a future where maternal mortality -- but not our maternal mortality -- rates will rise. We chose a future where preventable deaths from cervical cancer -- but not our deaths -- will rise. We chose a future where deaths from illegal, back-alley abortions -- but not our illegal, back-alley abortions -- will rise.

Without empathy, a culture of fear is allowed to foment and thrive. It is that culture that has ensured that white folks never need engage with the idea of non-white humanity. It is this culture of fear that put Greg Abbott in the governor's mansion, and it needs to be cut out of our communities like the cancer it is. We do this by rebuilding ourselves in a better image, in the image of our sisters of color who, time and again, have shown that they care that we have access to health care, to the voting booth, even though we have not done the same for them.

We need to support groups like the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the Afiya Center, SisterSong, the Texas Organizing Project, Mamas of Color Rising, Rise Up/Levanta Texas, and ask: What role of assistance can we play as you lead? doclink

If the GOP Wins the Senate, Expect a Total Assault on Reproductive Rights

   October 15, 2014, Nation (US)   By: Ilyse Hogue

Texas has been taken over by an extreme wing of the Republican Party, which is responsible for the draconian law HB2 that is intended to shut down abortion clinics. While there has been a short-term reprieve issued by the Supreme Court to allow abortion clinics to remain open, this temporary victory feels fragile in a state where so much damage has already been done. Already 7% of women who needed abortion care in the state tried to self-abort before the current law shuttered clinics. Texas is in the throes of an all-out public health crisis.

And worse -- what happens on November 4 could put all of America on the same path as Texas. Will the Democrats hold the Senate or will anti-choice Republicans get a majority in both chambers?

Women voters can make the difference in all of the key races.

In the U.S. Senate we have a razor-thin margin when it comes to reliably defending access to abortion services in our country, and unlike years past, those votes are entirely on the Democratic side of the aisle. With pro-choice stalwarts like Iowa's Tom Harkin and Michigan's Carl Levin retiring, the chance that the clinic closures sweeping the South and more restrictions on abortion could become the norm in our country.

Seven in ten Americans support the constitutional rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade, according to a recent poll. But in Congress, only four in ten elected officials share Americans' pro-choice values.

In years past, trusting women to make our personal decisions about family planning was a shared value that crossed party lines. Republican Governor John Love was the first to sign legislation liberalizing abortion in Colorado several years before Roe v. Wade, followed shortly thereafter by Republican Governor Rockefeller in New York.

House leaders passed a bill that would ban all private insurance companies in state exchanges from covering abortion care. They voted more than fifty times to change or repeal or weaken Obamacare, which provides for comprehensive family-planning coverage-including prenatal, birth and maternity care for healthy families. They passed a bill that would ban abortion after twenty weeks of pregnancy, despite overwhelming evidence that this small fraction of cases are the most complicated and the most important to leave between a woman, her family and her doctors. And after the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, they refused to bring the "Not My Bosses' Business" bill to a vote.

Fortunately the Senate firewall worked exactly as it should

Losing the Senate would do more than restrict abortion access everywhere in our country. It would put into power individuals whose very ideology is grounded in an idea of women as less than equal citizens, who must be controlled through laws that not only deny us our right to the medical care of our choosing, but also the knowledge that allows us to make informed decisions. doclink

The Catholic Church and Contraception: Revolution...or Evolution?

   October 14, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Robert Walker

A statement recently issued by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome is being described as an "earthquake" by Church liberals and a "betrayal" by Church conservatives. The statement does not appear very radical with respect to the treatment of gays or divorcees, and the same applies to the nuanced position taken by the Bishops on contraception. It all seems highly tentative, but after decades of rigid orthodoxy, equivocation can sometimes presage a revolution. So is the Catholic Church about to change its position on birth control... or not?

The report emphasized "the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control."

While some members of the Catholic faith may believe that husbands and wives should make no effort to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, that view is not typical. The Church itself has long approved "natural" family planning, otherwise known as the rhythm method. In doing so, the Church appears to endorse the idea that a woman should be able to space or limit her pregnancies. If so, why shouldn't a woman be able to use a more reliable method to achieve the same result?

Polls suggest that the vast majority of Catholic women in the U.S. rely upon a modern method of birth control at some point in their reproductive years.

Yet, despite these poll findings, large numbers of politicians in this country -- whether reliant on Church teachings or not -- are expending an awful lot of moral and political energy on making it harder for women to access a modern method of contraception.

Some of this may be driven by a misdirected anti-abortion zeal, rather than strict opposition to modern methods of birth control, but the practical result is to boost the number of unplanned pregnancies and, by implication, the number of abortions.

If the Vatican does reverse its position on birth control, it may have very little impact on the percentage women in this country who elect to use a modern method of contraception. And the same is true in Europe and in many parts of Latin America. But in a few places, like the Philippines, the Church's opposition to birth control has proven to be a real deterrent, and a reversal could ultimately lead to a substantial increase in contraceptive usage.

If the Church shifts its position on birth control, it will be interesting to see how it would affect the ongoing legal challenges to federally mandated coverage of contraception by employers. In the heavily nuanced words of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, would the employer "need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control"? doclink

Hobby Lobby's Hypocrisy, Part 2: Its Retirement Plan Still Invests in Contraception Manufacturers

   October 10, 2014, Mother Jones   By: Molly Redden

The craft store company Hobby Lobby won the Supreme Court judgement against those Obamacare provisions that compelled [ against the religious beliefs of the owner, the Green family ] the company to buy employee health insurance plans that covered emergency contraception [and IUDs].

So what happened when Mother Jones reported that Hobby Lobby contributed millions of dollars to employee retirement plans with stock in companies that manufacture drugs and devices at the center of the Supreme Court case: PlanB, Ella, and two types of intrauterine devices? Nothing, according to Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.

Green dismissed the idea that it mattered where his employee's 401(k) plans had indirect investments, telling MSNBC reporter Irin Carmon it was "several steps removed." doclink

13 Things Every Woman Should Know About Personhood

Even if it's not currently a big issue in your state, it could have a huge effect on your reproductive rights
   September 22, 2014, Cosmopolitan   By: Robin Marty

Personhood is an attempt by conservative politicians to create a standard, legal definition of "person," which would begin when an egg is fertilized by sperm. This is an attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade by getting the Supreme Court to rule that a person is legally defined as existing from the moment of conception. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, in the Roe v. Wade decision, stated that the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause does not refer to the unborn because they are not legally people. "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment."

A personhood amendment (also called Human Life Amendment) would outlaw abortion if passed because any harm caused to that "person" would be considered a crime. Medical professionals worry that personhood could mean they'd have to withhold care until a patient's life is truly in danger so they don't accidentally do something seen as causing the death of an embryo or fetus, which could be considered murder or manslaughter.

The amendment would likely make forms of contraception illegal. For example some say that IUDs don't allow fertilized eggs to implant, causing an "abortion." (In reality, IUDs work to either thicken cervical mucus or repel sperm, both means of preventing fertilization.) Many legislators also claim that emergency contraception like Plan B is an abortifacient (it isn't) or even that standard hormonal birth control pills can cause an abortion (they don't), leaving only condoms and withdrawal.

During in vitro fertilization, not every embryo created is transferred or will survive the implantation process, and unused embryos are often destroyed, so it may be outlawed.

If a pregnant woman was dying, the normal options, such as pain medication or removing the patient from life support or IV fluids would be limited due to the mandate to protect the "person" at all stages of development.

The goal of personhood proponents is to change state constitutions one by one to create a conflict with the federal constitution that would need to be resolved by the Supreme Court. Four of the nine current justices are expected to overturn Roe if given the opportunity; the personhood argument is meant to appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, a centrist and Catholic, whom abortion opponents believe they can persuade to join their side.

The Colorado-based Personhood USA, after three failures with ballot measures, are taking a smaller step toward their goal - in hopes of better acceptance - by limiting their current personhood legislation to only apply to the criminal code and Colorado Wrongful Death Act. If a pregnancy ends as a result of a criminal act, the prosecution can add a count of murder to the charges.

A state that passes a personhood amendment would have the ability to pass laws regarding abortion, infertility treatments, or end-of-life care that are considered federally unconstitutional. The legislation would go into effect unless it were challenged. If a judge ruled that it was unconstitutional under federal law, the state could appeal, and the appeals process could go on for years.

A federal personhood amendment, if passed, would make abortion completely illegal with no exceptions, overruling the right to abortion in any state. It would mean that a tubal ectopic pregnancy could not be addressed with a dose of methotrexate and instead would have to be left until the pregnant person's life is in danger. People with conditions like pulmonary hypertension or other health issues exacerbated by pregnancy could not make the decision to end a pregnancy before becoming critically ill.

While there really aren't a lot of people in favor of personhood, proponents persist. Personhood has never been supported by the majority of voters of a state -- not even in Mississippi where many thought it was a sure thing.

While Baptist churches were in favor of Mississippi's personhood amendment in 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Methodist churches, and Episcopal churches refused to endorse the measure.

While the mainstream anti-abortion movement opposes personhood, they are worried that if a state says an embryo is a person but the federal Supreme Court doesn't agree yet, the court could rule to reaffirm a person's right to an abortion, undoing anti-abortion activists' work of passing incremental abortion restrictions for decades.

If the House, Senate, and White House all were all Republican control, a personhood amendment could happen. Depending on the outcome of the midterms and 2016, a federal declaration of personhood at fertilization could be closer than you think. doclink

Satanists Demand Religious Exemption From Abortion Restrictions, Cite Hobby Lobby Ruling

   July 28, 2014, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

Much debate has been made over the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court' allowed some for-profit companies to claim a religious exemption to Obamacare's contraception mandate.

An interesting point of is held by the Satanic Temple, a faith community that describes itself as facilitating "the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty".

The Satanic Temple has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy.

The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level "informed consent" laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.

"Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state­ mandated 'informational' material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them," said a spokesperson for the organization.

The Satanic Temple first made national headlines when members rallied in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott for approving a bill that allows prayer in public schools, saying they're glad the new policy will allow children to pray to Satan.

"Informed consent" laws, which typically require women to receive biased counseling before being allowed to proceed with an abortion procedure, are now in place in 35 states. Many of those laws require doctors to tell their patients misleading information about abortion's potential link to mental health issues and breast cancer. Some of them put words directly in doctors' mouths, forcing them to refer to the fetus as an "whole, separate, unique, living human being."

All women who share their belief in medical accuracy are encouraging to seek their own exemption from these laws, even if they don't personally identify as Satanists. "Right to Accurate Medical Information" t-shirts are available for purchase. doclink

The Crusade Against Reproductive Rights

   July 18, 2014, Moyers & Company

Note: this is a summary of the Bill Moyers interview with Cecile Richards. For the complete article, click on the link in the headline or watch the video.

BILL MOYERS (M): In the 40-plus years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, conservatives and the religious right have tried to overturn it. Several states have effectively restricted access to safe, legal clinics. More than half the American women of reproductive age now live in states hostile to abortion access.

NANCY NORTHRUP: During those four decades, there have been terrorizing physical attacks, clinics bombed, vandalized and torched, doctors and clinic workers murdered, and clinics blockaded. ... States are passing laws that single out reproductive health providers for excessively burdensome regulations ....

M:..Since Cecile Richards became president of the Planned Parenthood Federation in 2006, the number of its supporters doubled to seven million. Cecile, An impartial observer ... could conclude that you're losing the political battle over abortion.

CECILE RICHARDS (R): ... "The Tea Party swept into the U.S. House of Representatives and took over state legislatures (with) a very clear agenda ... to roll back women's access. But whenever these issues are actually on the ballot," for example in Mississippi, where "the far right tried to push ... a bill that would've outlawed abortion in that state. The voters of Mississippi .... overwhelmingly rejected that. ... I do think the state legislatures have moved dramatically to the right." ... Unfortunately, an extreme wing of the Republican Party seems to be in charge of the primary process."

M: "Is it conceivable to you that your opponents have ... convinced enough people in conservative circles that abortion is morally wrong, leaving politicians that you talk about no choice but to go where the voters lead?"

R: ... "We at Planned Parenthood talk to voters a lot, talk to the public a lot. People in this country believe that abortion is a very personal and often complex issue. ... The last thing they want is politicians making the most personal decisions for a family." Across party lines, "young people in this country can't imagine going back to a time where abortion was illegal and not available."

M: 68% of young Americans believe abortion services should be available where they live. Why doesn't that translate into political success?

R: ... In the last presidential election Mitt Romney wanted to overturn Roe and get rid of Planned Parenthood, while President Obama strongly supported women's rights. "We had the biggest gender gap ever in polling in a presidential election." And in the Virginia governor's race, Terry McAuliffe supported women's access to birth control and Planned Parenthood, while Ken Cuccinelli, the sitting attorney general, opposed basically all of women's rights. ... Women decided that election. " There was a nine point gender gap for Terry McAuliffe." ... Women can determine pretty much any election in the country.

M: Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to make abortion, "a thing of the past."

R: ... "He's making safe and legal abortion a thing of the past". ... These regulations fall disproportionately on low income and rural women. ... "Women now go across the border to Mexico because they can't access legal abortion in the state of Texas." ...

When the governor and legislature ended the women's health program, "dozens of health centers that didn't provide abortion services had to shut down because they served low income women and they didn't have the funds to continue. ... Women (are) trying to figure out how to get around the country because there are increasingly states where you may have a legal right to an abortion, but effectively you have no access.... The impact is certainly on the ability to access abortion services, but it also has been devastating on women's ability to even access family planning and basic preventive care. ... State legislatures are hollowing out the rights under Roe in every conceivable way," and this court has been more sympathetic to those efforts _ not only to safe and legal abortion, but to birth control as well.

M: "Do you think that Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) that was debated this week could undo some of the damage being caused by this onslaught of regulations?"

R: Absolutely. ... Essentially the WHPA says you have to treat women's reproductive health care and abortion access like you do all other medical procedures....99% of women in this country use family planning." ... and 98% of Catholic women have used it at some point. "So for women, birth control is not a moral issue. It's not a social issue. It is a basic healthcare issue. It's an economic issue." And women, men, the majority of this country supports Roe. I guarantee they don't want politicians making their most personal, private decisions.

M: "What is your response to what some of your opponents say that abortion ... needs higher medical standards? Is there any merit in that argument?"

R: "Absolutely none. ... Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. ... I talk to doctors who were around pre-Roe who said, you know, routinely young healthy women were dying in emergency rooms across this country simply because they had no access to terminate a pregnancy in a medical setting." ... Abortion opponents claim they're for women's health and safety, but they're not. ...

M: ... Why can't hospitals start taking up the slack?

R: ..."Many of the hospitals in this country now are owned by the Catholic Church or have Catholic affiliation. They not only will not provide abortion services, they will not provide a whole host of reproductive healthcare." We need a public health care system that "will ensure that women can get access to the care that they need regardless of religion. And that is becoming increasingly a problem .. across the country."

M: ... The Hobby Lobby decision says, in effect, that ... Capital has religious rights, labor doesn't. Where's this going to take us?"

R: ... " I was actually there for the Hobby Lobby argument, and it was stunning to see the lack of regard for women." But from that and other decisions, it seems "better to be a corporation today than to be a woman in front of the Supreme Court. ... How could the rights of one CEO ... trump the right of thousands of women to make their own decision?" ... "The future and the healthcare of millions of women are at stake." ... When Congress passed this law, the Supreme Court overstepped their bounds. ...

M: Have we opened another stage in the old debate ... over religious liberties?

R: ... "We believe in religious liberties, but not the right to ... enforce your religion, your religious beliefs on someone else. ... When they heard that the Supreme Court had said that there were women who couldn't get birth control from their employer, I think people were just in shock. ... It's 2014 and we are still arguing about women being able to access birth control? It just doesn't make sense. Again, you have every woman in the country virtually using it. They don't see this as a controversial issue."

M: ... "How do you explain the passion that enters into this debate?"

R: ... Toleration of extremist remarks from people and some elected officials invites people to put women and doctors in a certain place. "The Massachusetts buffer zone was passed" ... because "women and doctors and clinicians were under enormous personal safety risks. And-"

M: "The two people were murdered there. ... Have you received any death threats?"

R: ... "I don't fear for myself. But I take very seriously the safety of our doctors and our clinicians and our patients. And that's foremost in my mind all the time." doclink

Decades After Birth Control Became Legal, It's Still Controversial

Five places in America where contraception is still a scary subject
   June 6, 2014, Rolling Stone   By: Robin Marty

Nearly a half-century after the Supreme Court legalized birth control, conservatives are still fighting to restrict access to contraception.

Over 49 years ago the Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut legalized the use of birth control devices for married couples, and within six years, singles gained the same right. Now that people have been using pills, IUDs, patches and injections legally for almost half a century, we might assume the right of people to buy these products. But in several U.S. places, that assumption is wrong. A number of high-profile Americans still think that you and I should have no right to prevent pregnancy by artificial means. What's more, some who think that way have influence over some of our laws and lives. For example, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia openly challenges Griswold. To him the decision implies that married couples have a right to privacy in the bedroom. Our constitution grants "no generalized right to privacy," Scalia told Fox News when asked about Griswold in a 2012 interview.

Getting birth control in a clinical setting has become more challenging due to a growing crusade to defund and close Planned Parenthood and other providers. Last April an entire Oklahoma town nearly lost all legal access to hormonal contraception (birth control) after the city medical center required physicians to stop offering it. Although that decision was overturned; based on personal religious or moral values, anyone having power in a hospital or clinic may use a "conscience clause" to challenge your access to birth control. These new bills say that neither doctors nor clinic managers have any obligation to provide birth control or help you find it.

Salinas (CA) County Commissioners rejected grant money for an IUD program, calling the use of IUDs "murder." Although IUDs have nothing to do with abortion, during the funding debate, Commissioner John Price said that using IUDs would be the same in God's eyes as aborting the kids. "The commission stated it may reconsider, but has yet to accept the grant - although preventing unwanted accidental pregnancies saves money by reducing abortion requests and birth-related health care costs and services.

Two influential groups, the American Life League (ALL) and Personhood USA (P-USA), are dedicated to fighting legal contraception. Calling sex without a desire to create life the "contraceptive mentality," ALL says that it threatens marriage, parenting, proper gender dynamics and our entire civilization's moral fiber. To portray it as a medical issue, they sponsored "The Pill Kills," a decade-old anti-Griswold campaign online and in front of reproductive health clinics across the country. ALL claims hormonal contraception instigates such physical complications as strokes, breast cancer, heart attacks and death, as if being pregnant and giving birth every year or two has no harmful effects.

P-USA sponsors changes to our laws. When a "personhood" amendment goes on a state ballot, its backers claim granting legal rights at the moment of fertilization has no impact on hormonal birth control. However, some Mississippi P-USA advocates admit to reporters that it will. They told Irin Carmon in 2011 that passing the amendment would ban hormonal contraption and IUDs. Although some P-USA supporters have said this goes too far, the movement none-the-less backs a referendum that will extend its war on contraception to North Dakota. doclink

Art says: I wonder if Judge Scalia has been troubled by the fact that the Constitution never specifically granted him (or us either for that matter) the right to go to the bathroom.

U.S.: As Lepage Vetoes Family Planning Bill, Cost of Teen Births in Maine Pegged at $18 Million

   April 29, 2014, Bangor Daily News   By: Jackie Farwell

Analysis by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy showed that teen births cost Maine taxpayers at least $18 million in 2010. This was announced just hours after Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill aimed at reducing unintended pregnancies among low-income women.

Between 1991 and 2010, 25,713 teen births occurred in Maine, costing state taxpayers $600 million over those two decades.

The good news is that Maine has seen a substantial decline in its teen birth rate, dropping 51% over the last two decades, and saving Maine taxpayers an estimated $36 million in 2010 alone.

Nationally, the teen birth rate has hit a historic low, dropping 52% by 2012 from a peak year in 1991.

The public costs associated with teen childbearing involved health care through Medicaid and CHIP programs, increased participation in child welfare, and, once those babies grow up, higher rates of incarceration and lost tax revenue due to lower earnings and spending, according to the campaign.

Nationally, teen childbearing cost taxpayers $9.4 billion in 2010, the campaign found.

The analysis was funded in part by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Maine's success in lowering its teen birth rate grew out of broad access to comprehensive reproductive health services and the teaching of age-appropriate sex education in schools, said Nicole Clegg, of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

But family planning funds have been cut over the last three years, and on Monday the governor vetoed bipartisan legislation to provide publicly funded preventive health care to low-income adults, including birth control and sexual health information, she said.

The bill would have benefited 13,700 low-income women through a limited expansion of the Medicaid program, and would have included access to cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and testing and treatment for STDs. For every $1 the state spent, the federal government would have kicked in $9.

Other states with similar programs have seen significant drops in unintended pregnancies and related costs, according to research by the Guttmacher Institute. Over the last 15 years, more than 20 states received federal approval for such programs, with more exploring the option under a provision of the 2010 federal health reform law that simplifies the process.

The measure is scheduled for an override vote in the Legislature on Thursday.

In his veto message, LePage said many of the individuals who would gain access to coverage under the bill -- those earning up to two times the federal poverty level -- could buy subsidized health insurance through the federal marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act.

"For those individuals who intend to make less than 100 percent of federal poverty level and therefore do not qualify for subsidized private insurance, family planning and health clinics across the state often already charge on a sliding scale, which they indicate is affordable for their clients," LePage said in his veto letter. doclink

Karen Gaia says: According to Maine Family Planning, "Governor LePage vetoed the bill as part of a record breaking veto spree."

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Say Health Plans Should Cover Birth Control

   April 22, 2014, Los Angeles Times   By: Karen Kaplan

One of the most controversial provisions of the Affordable Care Act is the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception. The results of a new survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. (JAMA) demonstrated that 69% of Americans agreed that "health plans in the United States should be required to include coverage" for "birth control medications."

Women, African Americans, Latinos and parents living with children under the age of 18 had higher levels of support for mandatory contraception coverage than people in other demographic groups.

However, all of the other services asked about in the JAMA report were more popular than birth control. For example, 85% of those surveyed supported mandatory coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies, 77% backed the provision on mandatory coverage for mental health care, and 75% supported mandatory coverage of dental care, including routine cleanings.

Also 7.8% of those surveyed said they thought employers who offered health insurance should be required to cover every item on the list except for birth control. Those having this opinion were more likely to be male, over the age of 60 and not be living with kids under the age of 18.

Hospitals, universities and other organizations run by religious nonprofits are not required to offer coverage for birth control and can opt out and allow their employees to obtain contraceptives directly from health insurance carriers.

In addition, lawyers for for-profit Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. recently argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that the chain should not be forced to pay for birth control that violate the religious beliefs of the evangelical Christian family that controls the company. A decision in the case is expected by the end of June. doclink

U.S.: Hobby Lobby, IUDs, and the Facts

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide later this year whether a corporation can have religious beliefs. Maggie Koerth-Baker looks at the science of birth control, and how it might inform the debate
   April 19, 2014, BoingBoing

Later this year, the US Supreme Court will issue a ruling in the case of Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. - answering whether a corporation can have religious beliefs that enable it to opt out of the mandate requiring company-purchased insurance to cover all forms of birth control.

People like the owners of Hobby Lobby believe that IUDs mostly work by preventing implantation, which is, to them, an abortion. Birth control activists believe that IUDs prevent pregnancy.

An IUDs is a "T' shaped piece of plastic that is inserted by a doctor through a woman's cervix and into her uterus. It can be left there for years. There's nothing to remember, as with the pill or a condom. And fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant in a year while using an IUD, compared to the Pill -- 9 out of 100 -- or a condom -- 18 out of 100.

Dr Horacio Croxatto studied IUDs in rats in 1964 and found that the IUD prevented implantation of the fertilized egg in a rat's uterus. Humans, however, have a different reproductive system. In humans the IUD prevents the egg from fertilizing. When an IUD in a human uterus, the immune system registers it as an intruder and starts to attack and end up killing the majority of sperm that reach the uterus. The effect is even stronger in IUDs made with copper, like ParaGard, because copper ions are also toxic to sperm.

However, IUDs can also prevent implantation, especially if they are used as an emergency contraception - after having sex. But the primary mechanism is to prevent fertilization, not to prevent implantation. doclink

Karen Gaia says: most use an IUD on a long-term basis - killing the sperm before they fertilize the egg. Hobby Lobby supports contraception that acts by preventing fertilization. Thererfore, their case in the Supreme Court should be restricted to only those times that an IUD is used as emergency contraception. Why throw out a methods that works so well in preventing abortions?

It's Not Just Hobby Lobby: These 71 Companies Don't Want to Cover Your Birth Control Either

   April 2, 2014, Mother Jones

When the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby chain (with 22,000 employees) went to the Supreme Court over the ACA's (Affordable Care Act) mandate requiring insurance policies to cover birth control without a copay, it was not the only company to sue.

According to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), since 2012 seventy-one other for-profit companies have challenged the mandate. Most of these cases are still pending. NWLC's Gretchen Borchelt says that the outcomes of many of these cases may hinge on the pro-Hobby Lobby verdict. The ruling could have a far-reaching impact, potentially dismantling corporate laws that have long shielded CEOs and board members from lawsuits or paving the way for companies to claim religious exemptions from other federal regulations.

Some of the suing companies had already covered birth control under their insurance plans, but they oppose the ACA's drug Plan B, which they say supports abortions. The Thomas More Law Center, a law firm "dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians," has filed 11 cases on behalf of 33 plaintiffs. The center asserts in an amicus brief supporting Hobby Lobby that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects employers fighting the mandate "from being 'forced,' under threat of ruinous government fines, to fund products and services that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs." (The term "forced" overlooks the fact that employers can provide no employee health insurance if they pay a tax that helps to subsidize employee coverage obtained through the exchanges or Medicaid.)

On a list of other cases, NWLC's Borchelt was surprised to see the Michigan-based Eden (organic) Foods listed because of its outstanding record of social and environmental responsibility. The company eventually lost its case at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey wrote in her opinion that the owner's "deeply held religious beliefs more resembled a laissez-faire, anti-government screed." Reporter Irin Carmon interviewed CEO Michael Potter last April. Calling the mandate government over-reach, he said, "This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone's access to health care or reproductive management. This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience. Borchelt sees it differently. "These companies are not hiring based on the religious beliefs of the workers. Imagine ... applying for a warehouse position at an organic food company. Why would you ever think, 'Oh, I need to research this owner's religious beliefs to know whether or not I'm going to get access to birth control insurance'?"

The Michigan company Trijicon makes optics equipment for weapons and holds at least $8.9 million in active military contracts. In its August 2013 lawsuit, Trijicon claimed that the company "and its shareholders have a deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception/fertilization." The company's website states: "We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals." The outcome of Hobby Lobby could mean no more birth control coverage for the company's 212 insured employees.

Two Catholic Gilardi brothers, Philip and Frank Jr., who hold controlling interests in the Ohio-based produce processor Freshway Foods and produce distributor Freshway Logistics, say "they conduct their businesses in a manner that does not violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs or moral values, and they wish to continue to do so." In 2011 a former Freshway employee first complained, then later sued the company for sexual harassment. She was suspended then fired after injuring herself at work. Freshway denied the sexual-assault allegations but settled the case with an undisclosed payout. doclink

Is This Catholic Hospital in Oklahoma Trying to Prevent Women From Getting Birth Control?

   April 1, 2014, Slate   By: Amanda Marcotte

Off-the-record sources recently reported that management at the Jane Phillips Medical Center told doctors affiliated with the hospital that they could no longer prescribe birth control. There is only one OB-GYN in town who does not work with the hospital.

The broad medical consensus based on actual science and evidence is that contraception is a necessary part of women's health care. The American Medical Association affirms, in its ethical guidelines, "policies supporting responsibility to the patient as paramount in all situations and the principle of access to medical care for all people."

Catholic organizations like St. John want to replace sound medical judgment with a bunch of rules concocted by theologians. It's all good and well to have private beliefs about the sinfulness of contraception, but for the sake of clarity and patient protection, those in the business of providing health care should abide by standard medical ethics. And those ethics include making contraception simple for patients to get, not putting a bunch of confusing obstacles out there for patients and doctors to navigate. doclink

Papantonio: Hobby Lobby is DOA

   March 28, 2014, Daily Kos

Corporations open themselves up for lawsuits if Hobby Lobby succeeds. That's they there are no amicus briefs filed in favor of Hobby Lobby.


Women Strongly Oppose Hobby Lobby's Birth Control Case: Poll

   March 24, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Laura Bassett

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius. Both involve for-profit companies refusing to provide their employees with coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act because the companies' owners do not believe in birth control.

In a survey of women voters between 18 and 55 released by Hart Research Associates, more than two-thirds (68%) opposed allowing corporations to refuse to cover contraception in their health plans because of religious objections. More than half indicated that they disagree "strongly." 84% of women agreed with the statement that the decision to use birth control "should be a woman's personal decision, and her boss should not be able to interfere with it." Geoff Garin, President of Hart Research Associates said, "As a matter of principle, these women don't believe corporations should be able to use religion to pick and choose which laws they will obey."

The poll shows that women also oppose other kinds of religious freedom laws affecting gays and lesbians, and 81% said pharmacies should not be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control on religious grounds. doclink

Art says: Another article said that the National Coalition of American Nuns sent a petition to the Supreme Court saying, "We want to make clear that the sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families." . . . "We know that religious freedom means that each person has the right to exercise their own religious beliefs." It "cannot mean that an individual or a corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on their employees."

If Hobby Lobby Wins, it Will Be Even Worse for Birth Control Access Than You Think

   March 19, 2014, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

On March 25, the Supreme Court will take up the issue of contraceptive coverage in a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Craft chain Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties -- both for-profit companies -- claim that they can withhold insurance coverage for certain types of contraceptive methods based on their religious beliefs.

Not only do they not want to cover specific types of birth control, but they also object to providing counseling about that birth control. If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are successful, they'll win the right to refuse to extend coverage for doctor's visits that include discussion about certain forms of contraception, like IUDs or the morning after pill.

Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, explained: "Counseling and education about contraception has been a basic part of a medical visit forever, even before the methods themselves were covered. Before we had prescription drug coverage, we certainly had coverage for the visit to your doctor, and there were never any limitations about what you could talk to your doctor about." And doctors can't just skip over certain methods: in order to obtain informed consent from their patients, doctors are obligated to explain the full range of options available.

Informed consent is the 'bedrock' of medical ethics. The conversation between doctor and patient needs to be careful and detailed before the patient agrees to any medical intervention.

So patients are left with a choice: don't talk about contraception with their doctor or if they do want to discuss contraception, they'll have to pay for the visit out of their own pocket. They'll essentially have to choose between a potential financial burden or a potential health burden.

Worse yet, employees might not realize that restrictions set by the employer exist when they visit their doctor. Companies that withhold coverage for some types of services may not explain to their workers exactly what their plan excludes, or provide them with a referral to access those services elsewhere.

Sonfield said: "This is telling you that you can't use your compensation" your own benefits that you have earned -- in a way that your boss objects to." Insurance coverage for preventative care is a benefit that employees earn through the hours that they put in to their jobs.

Some employers might object to modern health services like vaccinations, blood transfusions, or mental health care. If Hobby Lobby wins, that could open the door for employers to restrict coverage for doctors' visits that include discussion of those topics, too. doclink

Karen Gaia says:

As Supreme Court Takes Up Contraceptive Coverage Cases, New Guttmacher Analysis Puts the Facts Front and Center

Counters Misinformation and Documents the Wealth of Evidence Strongly Supporting the Current Federal Policy on Contraceptive Coverage
   March 11, 2014, Guttmacher Institute

On March 25 the Supreme Court will take up cases on the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage guarantee.

In January Guttmacher filed a Supreme Court amicus brief. A new Guttmacher analysis by Adam Sonfield sets the record straight on several important questions of fact misinterpreted and obfuscated by the anti-contraception opponents and clarifies key points of the brief.

The analysis explains why the ACA's requirement that most private health plans cover contraceptive counseling, services and supplies without out-of-pocket costs for patients is necessary and appropriate. The areas covered in the analysis are:

1. Contraception is not abortion: Science clearly shows that contraception is distinct from abortion. Further, by preventing unintended pregnancies, effective contraceptive use dramatically reduces the need for abortion.

2. Contraceptive use benefits women and families: Millions of women who have used contraception were able to plan and space wanted pregnancies which resulted in myriad health benefits for mothers and babies and, in turn, promoted women's educational, economic and social advancement.

3. Comprehensive contraceptive coverage improves use: Methods of contraception differ dramatically in their effectiveness in preventing unintended pregnancy. Removing cost barriers -- as the federal policy currently requires -- has given women the ability to choose and use the best and most effective method for them.

4. Contraceptive coverage is not a financial burden for employers: Strong evidence shows that contraceptive coverage will be either cost-neutral or even generate savings for employers. Also funding for contraceptive services under programs like Title X and Medicaid in 2010 resulted in net public savings of $10.5 billion, or $5.68 for every dollar spent.

5. Shifting responsibility to the government is not workable: Having the government pay for contraceptive services and supplies for privately insured women is not viable politically and wouldn't work, and would end up creating new hurdles for women.

"If the Court sides with the plaintiffs, it could truly open a Pandora's box of discrimination. Employers might claim religious objections to coverage -- for everyone or, for instance, for those who are young, unmarried or gay -- of HPV vaccination, STI testing, breast-feeding equipment, maternity care, blood transfusions, HIV medication and mental health care," said Sonfield doclink

LTE: for Contraception Methods, Long-term Options Work Better

   November 27, 2013

Bonnie Tillery, a population issues coordinator for the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club wrote this LTE which she is willing to share with anyone who wants to send it to their local paper.

For contraception methods,long-term options work better

There has been a lot of negative press about the Affordable Care Act, but here is some positive news.

The act mandates that insurance companies provide all forms of female contraception without a co-pay as part of preventive health care. This should bring down the incidence of unplanned pregnancy dramatically, as was shown in a 2007 study at Washington University in St. Louis.

According to an Oct. 23 article in The American Prospect, researchers "provided 10,000 St. Louis women with free contraception, with the goal of decreasing unintended pregnancy.... Few women ended up choosing the pill. Most went with a long-acting contraceptive method, like an IUD or an implant and the results were striking. Women who opted for a shorter-term contraceptive like the pill were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy."

Currently, about one-half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned - the largest number among countries in the developed world. By reducing dependence on the birth control pill, which is not as effective as other long-term contraceptives, the incidence of unplanned pregnancy should be greatly diminished.

Women who are able to plan their pregnancies and space their children have healthier outcomes for themselves, their families and the environment.. doclink

U.S.: Popping the Pill's Bubble

Free birth control is great, but it's not going to do women much good if they don't know which method to use
   October 31, 2013, American Prospect

With the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), newly insured women can begin to start thinking about what kind of birth control they want, rather than what they can afford. All forms of female contraception will be offered without a co-pay to insured women as part of a larger package of preventive-care services. If women can choose a form of birth control that works for them, without worrying about the cost, they'll be less likely to get pregnant, saving insurance companies thousands of dollars in sonograms and prenatal vitamins.

80% of women will use a contraceptive pill at least once during their reproductive lives, but they need to take the pill at the same time every day, a challenging task that even very organized people have problems with. But it's cheap, unlike longer-term contraceptives like the IUD-a T-shaped device that, once inserted into a woman's uterus, can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years.

Under the ACA, insurance companies are required to cover at least one form of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods -- including IUDs and contraceptive implants, matchstick-sized rods that are inserted into the arm to prevent pregnancy and last for up to three years-at no cost to their subscribers.

However, all this variety of contraceptive options-patches and implants, shots and rings may sound pretty scary to many women. They need doctors to guide them through the process of choosing a new form of contraception, a role that physicians, who are already pressed for time, are ill prepared to fill. A survey found that 40% of women between didn't receive in-depth counseling or information from their health provider on how to use the birth control they were prescribed. One third of the women surveyd were not presented with multiple birth-control options, and of those that were, 10% reported that they felt pressured to choose one over the other and the same percentage said they had questions they did not feel they were able to ask their health provider.

The problem is: doctors may inadvertently prevent their patients from finding the form of birth control that works best for them. The ACA requires insurers to cover counseling as well as the birth control methods themselves, but it's not yet clear whether insurers will pay doctors extra for longer counseling sessions. "It's much easier to write a prescription for a birth control pill than to sit down and talk with a woman about the pros and cons of the IUD," said Low.

Because doctors are don't spend enough time or get little emphasis on contraceptive counseling or education in medical school, most women are unaware that birth control pills can cause decreased libido and vaginal dryness. 30% of women using the pill discontinued use because of dissatisfaction with the method-most often because of side effects, such as unpredictable bleeding, weight gain, or a dulled sex drive,

Giving the task of contraceptive counseling to nurse-midwives or to non-clinicians might be a better alternative. In 2007, a study by researchers Washington University in St. Louis implemented the Contraceptive CHOICE Project which provided 10,000 St. Louis women with free contraception, with the goal of decreasing unintended pregnancy. Contraceptive counseling wasn't initially built into their program model, but the majority of women did not realize that there were lots of choices available and they recruited research assistants to counsel women about their options. Few women ended up choosing the pill. Most went with a long-acting contraceptive method, like an IUD or an implant, and the results were striking. Women who opted for a shorter-term contraceptive like the pill were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy.

Doctors need to stop thinking about contraception in isolation, as a tool to prevent pregnancy, rather than as a drug that's intimately linked to women's sexual and reproductive lives. Even if doctors are not compensated by contraceptive counseling, insurance companies might become be proactive, realizing that reimbursing doctors for contraceptive counseling is good for their bottom line. For insurers, there's no downside to improved contraceptive use -- it's in insurers' interest to help women think about the kind of birth control that works best for them. doclink

News on U.S. Women's Health and Politics

   June 10, 2013

@@028969 doclink

Ohio Republicans Want To Ban Sex Ed Classes From Talking About 'Gateway Sexual Activity'

   April 17, 2013, Think Progress

Under an amendment proposed by Republicans in Ohio's legislative House, sex ed classes wouldn't be permitted to provide students with any information that might "condone" gateway activity. That includes dispensing contraception. Gateway activity is described as "sexual contact" ; that is, "any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast." The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:

The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:

It goes on to prohibit distributing certain materials, conducting demonstrations with "sexual stimulation" devices, or distributing contraception.

If a student receives such instruction, a parent or guardian can sue for damages, and a court may impose a civil fine of up to $5,000.

Last year, Tennessee Republicans pushed to strengthen their state's abstinence-only law by defining kissing and hand-holding as gateway activities that could lead teens to engage in sexual intercourse. Whether or not U.S. teenagers are taught abstinence in their health classes, most of them still become sexually active. By their 19th birthday, 70% of American teens will have had sex.

Abortion opponents in Ohio also successfully pushed for an amendment to the legislation that would defund the state's Planned Parenthood clinics, and reallocate those family planning dollars to right-wing "crisis pregnancy centers" that don't actually provide the same kind of health services.

The provisions will head to a full House vote later this week. doclink

U.S.: State Policy Trends 2013: Abortion Bans Move to the Fore

   April 11, 2013, Guttmacher Institute

In the first three months of this year state legislatures introduced 694 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. 93 have been approved by at least one legislative body.

About half of these seek to restrict access to abortion, most of them seeking to ban abortion outright. 14 states introduced provisions seeking to ban abortion prior to viability. All of these proposals are in direct violation of U.S. Supreme Court decisions which allow abortions up until viability.

Legislators in 10 states have introduced proposals that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions. In eight of those states (AL, IA, MS, ND, OK, SC, VA and WA), legislators have proposed defining "personhood" as beginning at conception; if adopted, these measures would ban most, if not all, abortions. In CO, FL, IA and ND, legislators introduced measures that would ban abortion except in very limited circumstances, such as when the woman's life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest; none have passed a legislative chamber.

Arkansas and North Dakota have already enacted legislation this year banning nearly all abortions beginning at some point in the first trimester of pregnancy; similar measures have been introduced in KS, KY, MS and WY.

Legislation to ban abortions at 20 weeks postfertilization was enacted in Arkansas and is pending in nine other states (IA, IL, KY, MD, ND, OR, TX, VA and WV). These bans are patterned after a 2010 Nebraska law that has already served as the model for such laws in eight other states, two of which are enjoined pending legal challenges because they prohibit abortion prior to viability.

Eight states (AL, AR, IA, IN, MO, MS, NC and TX) have introduced provisions to restrict medication abortion. If adopted, these restrictions threaten U.S. trend toward very early abortion.

Seven states already ban telemedicine for prescribing medication abortion.

On the other hand, two states, Colorado and Hawaii, were poised at the end of March to enact legislation expanding access to comprehensive sex education; if enacted, it would be the first time since 2010 that any state has done so. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Person-hood restrictions leave the door open to ban contraception.

U.S.: Texas Women's Health Coalition Awarded Control of Federal Family Planning Dollars

   March 26, 2013, RH Reality Check   By: Sarah Kliff

The U.S. government has awarded a three-year Title X family planning grant to the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (WHFPT), a network of individual providers and clinics that specialize in reproductive health care. The Texas Department of State Health Services was the administrator of the grant until Republican Gov. Rick Perry and conservative legislators decimated the state's existing family planning infrastructure in the 2011 legislative session and reserved the bulk of family planning funds for inefficient, unspecialized primary care clinics in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Texas officials consider Planned Parenthood an abortion "affiliate," despite the fact that no Texas Planned Parenthood clinics that receive any public funds perform abortions.

Planned Parenthood clinics are among the health-care providers that applied for the grant under the WHFPT, a group of 34 contractors at 121 clinics statewide.

With the estimated $13 million each year WHFPT was awarded, WHFPT CEO Fran Hagerty anticipates the coalition seeing almost double the number of clients that the Department of State Health Services had projected; she conservatively estimates 160,000 clients served annually, compared to the state's 65,000. WHFPT does not have to adhere to the state's inefficient, tiered funding structure, which was created specifically to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funds. doclink

U.S.: Poll: Americans See Population's Connection to Environmental Problems

   March 15, 2013, Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity commissioned a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.

64% said that, with the human population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, wildlife will be adversely affected.

61% said they are already concerned about the rate at which wildlife is disappearing.

57% believe human population growth is "significantly impacting the disappearance of wildlife."

The results on consumption and on climate change suggest people agree that population/consumption should be part of any comprehensive solution to climate change.

57% said they "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" that population growth is making climate change worse.

56% said either stabilizing or reducing population growth would make climate change easier to solve.

48% said the average American consumes too many natural resources, while only 17% said we are consuming too few.

60% said our society has a "moral responsibility" to address wildlife extinctions in the face of a growing population.

54% agree that stabilizing population growth will help protect the environment.

59% said addressing the effects of population growth is an important environmental issue.

The next step is making it crystal-clear to decision-makers that Americans want something done now -- that this issue should be a national priority and part of any discussion about saving the world we live in.

This story was covered by Ken Weiss of the Los Angeles Times. doclink

This is What Happens When You Defund Planned Parenthood

Dozens of clinics have shut down in Texas, leaving nearly 200,000 women in search of affordable health care.
   March 14, 2013, Huffington Post   By: Jaeah Lee

Texas legislators slashed funds for family planning and passed up $30 million a year in federal Medicaid money over the last two years. The intent was to mainly to squeeze Planned Parenthood out of the state's women's health programs. Hundreds recently gathered at the Texas State Capitol in Austin to protest.

Nearly 200,000 Texas women have lost or could lose access to contraception, cancer screenings, and basic preventive care, especially in low-income, rural parts of the state.

The Texas Policy Evaluation Project reported that nearly half of the 300 pregnant women seeking an abortion they surveyed said they were "unable to access the birth control that they wanted to use" in the three months before they became pregnant. they cited cost, lack of insurance, inability to find a clinic, and inability get a prescription as reasons.

The state's health commission expects nearly 24,000 unplanned births between 2014 and 2015 thanks to these cuts, raising state and federal taxpayer's Medicaid costs by up to $273 million.

Half of pregnancies were unplanned in 2011 in Texas, and 1 in 3 women of childbearing age lacks health insurance.

Planned Parenthood clinics serviced nearly 50% of the Women's' Health Service patients. Along with contraceptive counseling, the clinics provided basic screenings for cancer, hypertension, and other key problems. Tens of millions in Medicaid reimbursements to the Women's Health Program were forfeited.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission insists the revamped, wholly state-run and state-funded Women's Health Program can reshuffle all the displaced patients and keep providing the same levels of care as before. Researchers at George Washington University found that in order to effectively replace Planned Parenthood, other clinics would need to increase their caseloads two to five times.

However, more than a fifth have reduced their hours of operation. And instead of offering highly effective IUDs, clinics are more likely to offer lower-cost birth control pills. They also tend to give out fewer packs of pills per visit. One clinic has raised its fee for an annual exam from $20 to $35. Now Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas have to charge nearly $100; before defunding, they were virtually free.

Meanwhile, anti-choice legislators are touting these cuts as a way to wipe out the "abortion industry," but it turns out none of the 53 clinics that closed since September 2011 were providing abortions to begin with. Under the Hyde Amendment, public health providers can't use federal funding to administer abortions. Clinics providing abortions in this state were untouched by these cuts.

In 2011, there were about 70,000 abortions in Texas, down 10% from 2010.

Since 2010, nine states have tried to cut family planning funds; Montana, New Hampshire, and New Jersey have slashed their family planning budgets by more than half. Seven have made it harder for clinics like Planned Parenthood to receive state or federal family planning grants. Last month, four Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin shut down in the face of cuts.

Fortunately, some Texas state senators are proposing to add $100 million back into the state's primary care program, specifically for women's health services. doclink

U.S.: They're at it Again, and it's Up to Us to Stop Them. Again.

   March 6, 2013, Planned Parenthood Action Fund

A group of House Republicans recently introduced a bill to repeal the birth control benefit. Two weeks ago, a group of 11 politicians chose to stand with companies that have sued for the right to deny employees birth control coverage. These businesses think that bosses should get to control the health care choices of their employees. These are part of an orchestrated attack on women's access to birth control, despite the fact that 70% of Americans support insurance companies covering birth control without co-pays.

No company, no boss, should get to control the health care choices of their employees. No woman should have to ask her boss for permission to use birth control. Women should be able to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies.

While you stand with the companies who want to take this coverage away, I stand with the 70% of Americans who agree with the law, and who believe insurance companies should cover this basic benefit. When women have the power to protect their health, to plan their families, to make their own medical decisions, we all benefit.

Guaranteeing access to affordable birth control means fewer unintended pregnancies, healthier families, and women more in control of their futures. So let's show these members of Congress we won't back down when it comes to protecting birth control access. Add your name today. doclink

U.S.: Cutting Title X Family Planning in the Sequester Hurts Women's Reproductive Health

   February 28, 2013, Center for American Progress

Title X could be cut by $15 million in fiscal year 2013 by the Sequestration. The program has already been cut by more than $23 million over the past two fiscal years -- limiting access to family-planning services and causing clinics to cut back on staff and hours.

Title X has served primarily low-income women for over 40 years, providing a range of services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings; Pap smear tests; prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections; HIV testing, prevention, and counseling; infertility services; and health care referrals. 60% of women who visit Title X clinics consider them a primary source of health care.

25% of all poor women who obtain contraceptive services in the U.S. do so at a Title X-supported center. 91% of all Title X clients earn less than $28,000 a year.

Millions of women prevent unintended pregnancies with the help of Title X, preventing the negative health, social, and economic outcomes for women and their children associated with unplanned pregnancies. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and the number is 69% for women between the ages of 20 and 29, and nearly half of unplanned pregnancies for the same age group are experienced by women living below 100% of the federal poverty line. It is estimated that overall.

Levels of unintended pregnancy would be an estimated one-third higher without the services provided through Title X-supported centers. Every $1 invested in family-planning care averts nearly $4 in Medicaid expenditures. The public cost of unintended pregnancies is estimated at $11 billion a year, which would be even higher without Title X funding, which prevents more than 900,000 unintended pregnancies each year.

Because Title X funding is flexible and can be offered to a diverse range of grantees, the program has effectively partnered with other public and private entities to create a vast network of reproductive health providers in every state, which benefits all women regardless of income by providing facilities where they can go to receive high-quality and specialized reproductive health care. As of 2011 there were more than 4,000 providers receiving Title X funds in the United States.

Cutting Title X's cost-effective and crucial health service for women is more likely to hurt the country's financial prospects than improve them. It's a perfect example of why the blunt across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect tomorrow should be avoided in favor of a thoughtful and balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects crucial investments in programs such as family-planning services. doclink

Policy Makers

If Pope Francis Really Wanted to Fight Climate Change, He'd Be a Feminist

The world will never be healed of its ecological ills as long as women cannot control their fertility.
   September 9, 2015, Nation (US)   By: Katha Pollitt

Although he is against inequality, racism, poverty, bigotry, rampant capitalism and "self-centred culture of instant gratification" -- including excessive meat eating -- that fuel climate change and may well destroy the planet -- and, even though he has just announced a special year in which any priest may absolve a woman for having an abortion, as long as she is "contrite" -- Pope Francis still has nothing to say about the gender inequality that shores up and promotes our onrushing disaster.

The world, unlike Vatican City, is half women. It will never be healed of its economic, social, and ecological ills as long as women cannot control their fertility or the timing of their children; are married off in childhood or early adolescence; are barred from education and decent jobs; have very little socioeconomic or political power or human rights; and are basically under the control -- often the violent control­­ -- of men.

Because of the association of population growth with coercion, racism, and doomsday predictions that failed to materialize, it's hard for progressives to talk about overpopulation. But since 2000 we've added around 1.2 billion, roughly equivalent to the entire population of North America and Europe, which is expected to bring us to around 9.6 billion people by around 2050.

How can we take the pope seriously if he refuses to see overpopulation and how it affects everything: climate change, species loss, pollution, deforestation, the struggle for clean water, housing, work, and sufficient food. How can we take the pope seriously if he refuses to face these facts?

He blames only excess consumption by the privileged and says that international campaigns for reproductive health are really all about population control and the imposition of foreign values on the developing world -- as if the church itself was not a foreign power using its might to restrict reproductive rights in those same places. There are billions of people who want to rise above the backbreaking farm labor in a poor village with no electricity or running water -- and those desires can only be satisfied if people have fewer children, which happens to be what they want anyway.

True, Pope Francis did say that Catholics needn't breed "like rabbits," but only if they used natural family planning. The Philippines -- where he made that comment, and where the powerful church hierarchy has fought against realistic sex education and government funding of contraception -- has the highest fertility rate among the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Pope Francis is all for fighting climate change, but a recent report from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health says that providing family planning to the 225 million women around the world who want it but can't get it could meet 16 to 29% of the necessary decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Wouldn't meeting a desire that women already have be more likely to succeed than turning the world vegetarian or keeping the new middle classes in China and India from buying cars and taking vacations?

Educating girls, keeping women in the workforce, and providing good healthcare for women and children are also important human-rights goals that would reduce the number of children a woman has.

As climate change heats up, it's women who will bear the brunt of it, because they are the majority of the world's poor. In the developing world, they'll be contending with drought, food shortages, flooding, and forced migration, along with increases in the usual brutalities like rape, violence, trafficking, and war. To deny them the ability to control how many kids they bring into the world under such circumstances, is to condemn millions of women to the desperation that the pope says he wants to prevent. doclink

World Population Day: Papal Opposition to Contraception Worsens Prospects

   July 5, 2015, Population Matters

Only through investing in family planning and women's education and empowerment and conducting public information campaigns about the immense strains that population and consumption growth place on the planet can we significantly slow the growth.

Among the strains are resource depletion, climate change, water shortages, pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, wildlife extinctions, and ocean acidification.

"It is ironic that the recent Papal encyclical considered environmental and sustainability issues but brushed aside population growth as a driver of them," said Roger Martin, Chair of Population Matters.

"Population growth exacerbates poverty and conflict over dwindling resources. Poor people consume less and do less damage than rich ones. However, when and if poor people become rich, the number of people will make a vast difference to the planet. The Pope was thus completely wrong to say that 'demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.' With its opposition to artificial contraception, the Catholic Church promotes population growth through the resultant unintended pregnancies. World Population Day is a good time to urge the Catholic Church once again to change its doctrine on family planning." doclink

Speaker at Vatican Climate Change Rollout Said Earth Was Overpopulated at 6 Billion

   June 14, 2015, Newsmax

Hans Schellnhuber, a climate scientist who spoke when Pope Francis unveiled his climate change encyclical on June 18, once said the world is overpopulated by 6 billion people.

Schellnhuber is the Founding Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Chairman of the German Advisory Council on Global Change. He once called for an Earth Constitution that would transcend the U.N. Charter and a "Global Council ... elected by all the people on Earth" and a "Planetary Court ... with respect to violations of the Earth Constitution."

At the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, Schellnhuber said: "In a very cynical way, it's a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something - namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people." He also said that if greenhouse gas buildup caused a rise of 9° F of global temperatures, six billion people would die and much life on earth would be threatened.

Skeptics of man-made climate change have critical concern about the encyclical, in part due to Schellnhuber's role. But many on the left hoped Pope Francis' encyclical would link the global warming fight to religious obligation, notes. With Schellnhuber, one of the world's most aggressive climate change scientists, the left may be getting what it hopes for. doclink

Art says: Other population writers (e.g., Ehrlich and Weisman) have estimated the Earth's sustainable carrying capacity in the range of 2-3 billion people.

Women's Rights Activist Sandra Fluke Heads to Calif. General Election

   June 4, 2014, OnPolitics   By: Catalina Camia

Women's rights activist Sandra Fluke took second place behind fellow Democrat Ben Allen in her primary race for the state Senate seat currently held by of Ted Lieu in Southern California. California's primary rules allow the top two vote-getters to move on to the Nov. 4 general election, even though both, in this case, are Democrats.

Fluke gained national fame in 2012 as a Georgetown University law student when Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his radio show for her support of President Obama's health care law (Limbaugh later apologized). Republicans had blocked Fluke from testifying at a congressional hearing in support of contraceptive coverage by insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act. Fluke went on to become a featured speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and campaigned for Obama. doclink

The Party of Rape Culture: 40 Republican Rape Quotes We All Should Remember in November

   July 6, 2013, Addicting Info   By: Stephen D. Foster Jr

Texas Gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams, in March, 1990, said, "Rape is kinda like the weather. It's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."

Pennsylvanian Stephen Frieind said, "When the traumatic experience is undergone, a woman secretes a certain secretion, which has the tendency to kill sperm."

Phyllis Schafly argues that once having gotten married, the female has essentially "consented to sex."

Talk show host Bill O'Reilly argues that women who dress scantily have it coming to them.

In all, forty very shocking revelations from a congress that the American people elected.

. . . more doclink

U.S.: Paul Ryan:The Threat to Women Doubled

   August 14, 2012, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Recently, Mitt Romney announced his choice for his vice presidential running mate: outspoken anti- choice Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin.

Ryan cast 59 anti-choice votes on abortion and other reproductive rights issues in the U.S. House of Representatives. He repeatedly voted for and cosponsored the Federal Abortion Ban, a law that criminalizes some abortion services, endangers women's health, and carries a two-year prison sentence for doctors.

"I'm as pro-life as a person gets. You're not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they're unavoidable, and I'm never going to not vote pro-life," he said

If elected on November 6, there is no doubt that Ryan will work with Mitt Romney the day after the inauguration to:

* Defund Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation

* Eliminate the Title X family-planning program, which provides mammograms and cancer screenings to low-income individuals

* Deny women in the military -- who defend our freedom overseas -- the right to use their own, private funds for abortion care at military hospitals

* Pass legislation to effectively ban abortion coverage in state health-insurance exchanges

*Allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even when a woman's life is in danger

With nothing to stand in the way of the extreme Romney-Ryan agenda, we could lose the protection of Roe v. Wade, women's health and lives will be at risk -- and anti-choice zealots could wipe out decades' worth of reproductive rights we've fought so hard to win.

We need to knock on every door, make every call, and sound the warning bell to every pro-choice voter we can find. If we can get them to the polls, we can defeat anti-choice politicians running across the country and continue with all our important grassroots and advocacy work to ensure the right to privacy. doclink

U.S.: Candidates on Contraception

   February 17, 2012, WOA!! website - Karen Gaia Pitts


One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, "Well, that's okay. Contraception's okay."

It's not okay because it's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They're supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also , but also procreative. That's the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that's not for purposes of procreation, that's not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can't you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it's simply pleasure. And that's certainly a part of it-and it's an important part of it, don't get me wrong-but there's a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

Again, I know most Presidents don't talk about those things, and maybe people don't want us to talk about those things, but I think it's important that you are who you are. I'm not running for preacher. I'm not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These how profound impact on the health of our society.

Ron Paul:

Last year, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul introduced a bill in Congress that would allow states to ban contraception if they choose.

Paul's "We the People Act," which he introduced in 2004, 2005, 2009, and 2011, explicitly forbids federal courts and the Supreme Court of the United States from ruling on the constitutionality of a variety of state and local laws. That includes, among other things, "any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction." The bill would let states write laws forbidding abortion, the use of contraceptives, or consensual gay sex, for example.

Ron Paul is not a true Libertarian. He is anti-abortion and anti-contraception.

As Ayn Rand said: An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

Abortion is a moral right-which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?

Too bad, I like his other ideals. But if he is going to twist this one ideal, who knows what he will do with the others. It is not so simple after all.

There is no way he is going to win this one. 98% of American women have used or are using contraception, and that includes 97% of Catholic women. How would you like it if you were forced, by law, to preserve all of your sperm? That's where the Mississippi Personhood law is headed.


Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich acknowledged on Thursday that his support for a "fetal personhood" constitutional amendment would make some forms of birth control illegal.

Earlier in the week, the candidate had signed a pledge (PDF) from the group Personhood USA that declared he would "support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children."

At a campaign event in Fort Dodge, Iowa Thursday, a young woman asked Gingrich what this meant for birth control.


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) told Fox News host Mike Huckabee this weekend that he would support an amendment to his state's constitution to define life as beginning at conception, which would outlaw abortion and potentially many forms of contraception as well. Noting that the state supreme court forced the inclusion of abortion coverage in Romney's universal health care law, the GOP presidential front-runner said the only way to undo the decision would be a constitutional amendment. Asked if he would support such a move, Romney replied, "absolutely":

HUCKABEE: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established definition of life beginning of life at conception?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

Texas Governor Perry

Perry has taken large amounts of funding away from Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides most of the birth control to low-income individuals. Whether or not you think the poor deserve free birth control, it is very poor use of public funds to limit access to pregnancy prevention while spending much larger amounts to pay for Medicaid births. doclink

U.S.: Medical Panel Recommends No-Cost Birth Control

   July 19, 2011, NPR

if Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius accepts the recommendations released today the Institute of Medicine (IoM), health insurance plans may soon have to offer prescription contraception at no upfront cost to women.

In addition to contraception, the study calls for eight additional services for women to be added to the list of preventive care patients should be offered with no cost-sharing. The new services include annual "well-woman" visits; screening of pregnant women for gestational diabetes; screening for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV; more support for breast-feeding mothers; and counseling and screening for possible domestic violence.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 98%of sexually active women will use contraception at some point during their reproductive years, and that cost concerns are frequently cited as a reason for inconsistent use or use of a less then optimal method. Guttmacher said in testimony submitted to the IoM: "Women citing cost concerns were twice as likely as other women to rely on condoms or less effective methods like withdrawal or periodic abstinence."

The IoM panel was firm in rejecting claims by opponents, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that "to prevent pregnancy is not to prevent a disease."

"Women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to receive delayed or no prenatal care and to smoke, consume alcohol, be depressed, and experience domestic violence during pregnancy, the panel wrote. "Unintended pregnancy also increases the risk of babies being born preterm or at a low birth weight, both of which raise their chances of health and developmental problems," it noted.

A PBS article, "Women Should Get Free Birth Control" said: "the highly influential IOM report recommends that all U.S.-approved birth control methods be covered by insurers. That includes the controversial 'morning-after' or 'Plan B' pill that is considered by some to be a form of abortion because the woman takes it in the hours after sexual intercourse. "

"The IOM's recommendation to include all FDA contraceptive methods as a critical preventative service-without cost sharing-and to cover the patient education and counseling necessary to ensure each woman can choose the method best for her, is a critical step in empowering all women to plan their pregnancies," said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif.

But from the opponent's side: "Several drugs have been approved by the FDA to be legally categorized as 'emergency contraceptives,' despite functioning in ways that can destroy a preborn baby before or after implanting in the mother's womb," said Jeanne Monahan of the conservative Family Research Council. "A federal mandate to all insurance plans to include drugs such as ella essentially would mandate coverage for abortion. Inclusion of contraceptives also undermines conscience protections that President Obama promised would be maintained." doclink

Karen Gaia Says: Encourage Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius to accept these recommendations. See below

Australia: The Spin-doctors Are at it Again

   April 21, 2011, Marc O'Connor blog

The spin-doctors of the Business Council of Australia are demanding rampant population growth for Australia -- "to around 30 million in 2030 and 36 million in 2050". And they are trying to present this selfish demand as reasonable and they are calling this "Moderate Population Growth the Best Path to Prosperity," in its submission to Tony Burke, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on how to achieve a sustainable population for Australia. On its cover-page: Improving the quality of life of all Australians within prosperous, secure and liveable communities requires well-managed population growth over the first half of this century.

Myth: Australia's current annual rate of population growth, and/or those demanded by business lobbyists, are "moderate" or "balanced". Comment: Not so! They are higher than those of many third world countries (Indonesia 1.2% a year). Our recent range of 1.7% to 2.1% is 4 to 6 times the average of industrialised countries. We are headed for close to 100 million Australians by the end of the century.

While it is easy to import population growth it is very difficult to go in the opposite direction. Hence we need to remember that Australia's population growth is effectively not reversible.

Myth: Big Business has made a good case for continued population growth. Comment: Not so. The list of the world's most prosperous countries is dominated by those with under 20 million people.

Myth: Science and technology will save us, so there's no need to cap population. Comment: People who say this are rarely scientists. Mostly they are growth economists brought up on an ideology that there are no limits to growth, or else persons with a vested interest in growth.

The Australian Academy of Science back in 1994, before Peak Oil or Climate Change were widely accepted, warned government that 23 million was Australia's safe upper limit.

Myth: We in Australia have plenty of resources. Comment: Not so. The 3rd Inter-generational Report notes that our oil - the commodity on which our civilisation depends - will be gone by 2020.

Fertiliser price is directly linked to energy prices. Many business plans will not survive, and economic downturn is likely. To add more people to a low-energy future is foolish. Our iron ore, LPG gas and many other resources are fast running out.

Myth: Sustainable means keeping our businesses going. Comment: No, human sustainability means above all being prepared for Peak Oil. doclink

Giant Weapons Maker Becomes Big Brother

   January 14, 2011, Asian Times Online

Lockheed Martin received US $36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any company in history. It now does work for more than two dozen government agencies.

It's involved in surveillance and information processing for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service.

In recent times, though, it's doing everything from hiring interrogators for US overseas prisons to managing a private intelligence network in Pakistan and helping write the Afghan constitution.

It spent $12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009 alone. Not surprisingly, it's the top contributor to the incoming House Armed Services Committee chairman, Republican Howard P "Buck" McKeon of California, giving more than $50,000. It also tops the list of donors to Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye.

While the bulk of its influence-peddling activities may be perfectly legal, the company also has quite a track record when it comes skirting with the law: it ranks number one on the "contractor misconduct" database maintained by the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington DC-based watchdog group.

Even listing the government and quasi-governmental agencies the company has contracts with is a daunting task, but here's just a partial run-down: the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Land Management, the Census Bureau, the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense (including the army, the navy, the marines, the air force and the Missile Defense Agency), the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Technology Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the General Services Administration, the Geological Survey, the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of State, the Social Security Administration, the US Customs Service, the US Postal Service, the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Security Agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

When president Dwight D Eisenhower warned 50 years ago this month of the dangers of "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex", he could never have dreamed that one for-profit weapons outfit would so fully insinuate itself into so many aspects of American life. doclink

Hillary's Challenge: Would Putting Women First Make for Better Foreign Policy?

   July 16, 2009, American Prospect

In March, Hillary Clinton accepted the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood. In her speech, she laid out the connections between reproductive rights and global security. She said the reproductive-rights movement was "one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race."

"Too many women are denied even the opportunity to know about how to plan and space their families," she said. "And the derivative inequities that result from all of that are evident in the fact that women and girls are still the majority of the world's poor, unschooled, unhealthy, and underfed. This is and has been for many years a matter of personal and professional importance to me, and I want to assure you that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women's rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this administration."

Chris Smith, Rep, New Jersey, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has fought throughout his career reproductive rights worldwide. He has urged foreign politicians not to liberalize their abortion laws and led the way to freeze the American contribution to the United Nations Population Fund.

When Smith asked Clinton, "Is the Obama administration seeking in any way to weaken or overturn pro-life laws and policies in African and Latin American countries?" ... "Does the United States' definition of the term 'reproductive health' or 'reproductive services' or 'reproductive rights' include abortion?" ...

Clinton answered: "When I think about the suffering that I have seen, of women around the world -- I've been in hospitals in Brazil, where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting new babies, and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions. ... We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health, and reproductive health includes access to abortion, that I believe should be safe, legal, and rare."

Clinton said in a 1995 speech at the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, "Women's rights are human rights, once and for all." The New York Times said it "may have been her finest moment in public life."

Even though politically contentious, reproductive rights may be the area where rapid progress is easiest. One of Obama's first acts was to repeal the so-called "global gag rule," which had denied American funding to organizations working abroad that perform abortions, counsel women that abortion is an option, or advocate for abortion-law liberalization. Obama also restored American funding to the United Nations Population Fund.

To create change for women's rights, Clinton has to change the way State Department employees think about their job. Ultimately, she must to begin to change cultures, both in Washington and around the world. doclink

U.S.: How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma

   January 1, 2009, Wall Street Journal

For Roman Catholics, the thought of pro-choice Kennedy to campaign for the unlimited right to abortion is discouraging. Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of Catholics John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, was so concerned to assure pro-abortion leaders in New York, that one of her first calls was to indicate she will be strongly pro-choice.

Ms. Kennedy promised to work for several causes, including same-sex marriage and abortion rights. She believes "young women facing unwanted pregnancies should have the advice of caring adults," she would oppose legislation that would require minors to notify a parent before obtaining an abortion. Ms. Kennedy chose to say only that she "supports Roe v. Wade, which prohibits third trimester abortions except when the life or health of the mother is at risk." Ms. Kennedy's commitment to abortion rights is shared by other prominent family members. doclink

U.S.: Why a New President May Slow Population Growth

   January 14, 2008, Christian Science Monitor

If a Democratic president enters the White House some experts anticipate a greater effort by the US to restrain world population growth.

The four-year population-growth projection is comparable to the 303 million people living in the US, now the third most populous nation in the world after China and India.

Should a Democratic candidate become president, enthusiasts for more family planning assistance anticipate, a repudiation of the Mexico City Policy that makes organizations ineligible for US family planning money if they use non US funds to provide abortions. The Mexico City Policy was announced by President Reagan in 1984. It was repudiated by President Clinton, and was reinstated by President Bush.

Some family-planning advocates see the tribal conflicts in Kenya as one indication of the need to provide poor women with the ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies. When President Truman was in office, Kenya's population was 6 million. Today it is six times that and growing rapidly. Rapid population growth in itself is not a direct cause of conflict, but it can exacerbate underlying conditions of conflict.

In Kenya, the government has difficulty educating and finding jobs for hordes of young people. 73% of Kenyans are under 30. There is competition for farmland. Some of the worst tribal battles have occurred in rural areas.

In many countries, rapid population growth raises tensions between groups. They are all competing for the same living space and resources. The world's population is adding 78 million people a year, mostly in South Asia and Africa. Even in China, where the government was bolstering its one-child rule, the large number of couples of reproductive age means that the population grows by about 8 million people a year.

Family planning advocates see a faster reduction in population growth as crucial to the health of the world's environment and for easing the competition for resources. Total US assistance for family planning peaked in 1995 at $577 million. Today, it is 41% less in inflation-adjusted dollars. Organized voluntary family planning programs have a 40-year track record of success. In Iran, for example, a woman had an average of 5.5 children in 1988. Today, there are 2.1 births per woman, just enough to stabilize Iran's population.

In Thailand, the "total fertility rate" has dropped to fewer than two births per woman, compared with seven births per woman just two decades earlier. Fully voluntary programs can decrease population growth and "alleviate the increasing burden it places on the environment." But will require the US overcoming "opposition from ideological conservatives, who try to minimize the significance of continued population growth or to limit the medical options of those seeking to avoid pregnancy and disease." doclink

Clinton Vows to Restore Family Planning Funds

   July 18, 2007, Poughkeepsie Journal (US)

Hillary Clinton said she would reverse the Bush administration's order against federal funding for clinics that provide advice on contraceptives and abortion.

Clinton has courted voters by highlighting her efforts to reduce abortions when questioned by a Catholic priest.

She expressed exasperation none of her Senate colleagues has co-sponsored her legislation aimed at reducing unintended pregnancies.

Clinton did not say specifically she would nominate Supreme Court justices who support abortion rights but indicated she would nominate candidates who respect Roe v. Wade and who agree a right to privacy is implicit in the Constitution.

Clinton criticized the Bush administration for spending $1 billion on what she described as a failed policy of abstinence-based sex education. She promised to pursue bills that would make the Plan B abortion pill available at all military facilities and to rape victims at all hospitals. doclink

Democrats Attack Bush on Women's Health Issues

   July 18, 2007, New York Times*

Barack Obama told a Planned Parenthood convention that the next election would decide what kind of America our daughters will grow up in. Leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination committed to reversing the Bush administration's approach to abortion rights, judicial appointments, sex education and contraception.

Hillary Clinton declared that President Bush had played politics with women's health. She argued that the Bush administration had undermined and underfinanced longstanding education and family planning programs. Mr. Obama said the recent Supreme Court decision upholding a federal ban on a type of abortion was the beginning of a profound retreat on women's rights. Mr. Obama's speech underscored the power of the Supreme Court as an issue for Democratic voters. John Edwards commitment to abortion rights ran deep.

All of the candidates emphasized their commitment to a "prevention agenda" to reduce the number of abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies. doclink

When Environmental Writers Are Part of the Problem

   July 11, 2007, Op Ed News

Something's missing in today's environmental discussion. Environmental writers are telling us half the story. It's the universal tendency to focus on cutting fossil fuel use while staying mum on the topic of population growth.

The energy consumption for the world is the product of population size multiplied by the average per capita energy use and reflects both the level of consumption and the efficiency with which resources are used.

The growth of the global population is a root cause of ecological degradation, including climate change. Yet statements to that effect get little traction in the mainstream media. We hear about the need to switch to florescent light bulbs. We read about the ethanol debate and carbon trading schemes. But in all the talk of ways of reducing consumption, how often does anyone mention the need to address the other factor? In today's environmental writing, population growth is the elephant in the room.

Why the silence? Population growth received a good deal of attention in the 1960s and 1970s. But then came China's one child policy, right wing groups pushing capitalism by growth and dismissing the need to limit our numbers, and political wrangling among groups, all seeking the spotlight for their own issues. The result was the demotion of population from its status as social and environmental issue number one.

A staff writer at Grist made it clear he recognizes that to reduce humanity's ecological footprint to a sustainable level we'll need to deal with the population problem. Yet he acknowledged he never writes on the subject because, "Talking about population alienates a large swathe of the general public. It is political poison."

What's better, truth or avoidance?

Though they do so too infrequently and too quietly, a variety of groups and occasional writers in periodicals grapple with it. And there's no evidence their work has set back the environmental cause. They identify population growth as a problem because it's the truth, and they know bringing people the truth is productive while avoiding it is ultimately damaging.

Addressing population growth means taking humane measures to assist with the social and economic issues which drive it. Improving education for girls and economic opportunities for women in developing countries. Increasing access to family planning and encouraging positive attitudes toward smaller families.

There is almost universal recognition that population is a problem needing more attention. Environmentalists who avoid the subject of population are fretting over arguments found only among other writers.

A major report from the input of scores of scientists, asserted that the last decade of neglect of the population issue had seriously hindered environmental and social causes. We need to correct this. Environmental writers who have avoided the subject of population should rethink their stance. Let's embrace truth, not avoidance. doclink

Abortion, Condoms and Bush

   November 5, 2006, New York Times*

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a tiny increase in abortions in 2002. But the Guttmacher Institute indicates that in 2003 there were 1.29 million abortions in the U.S., 26,000 fewer than in President Bill Clinton's last year in office.

Yet abortions fell faster under Mr. Clinton, and shows that condoms do more to bring down abortion than moralizing. After abortion was legalized in 1973, they reached a peak of 1.6 million in 1990. The numbers began to fall late in George H. W. Bush's presidency and plummeted during the Clinton years. There were 180,000 fewer abortions in Mr. Clinton's last year than in his first year. At last count, 11% of sexually active women and girls were not using contraception, up from 7% in 1995. The number of women who say they need help paying for contraceptives rose by one million between 2000 and 2004.

The evidence on how to reduce abortions: promote contraception and comprehensive sex education. California has led the country in these areas, and cut teenage pregnancy rates by 39% over eight years.

American women are almost three times as likely to get abortions as women in Belgium or Germany.

Bush family members were pioneers in supporting the family planning services that can reduce abortion rates. George H. W. Bush was, as a young congressman, a prime sponsor of the 1970 public health program that provides family planning services in the U.S. He was so enthusiastic that his nickname then was Rubbers.

If the current president Bush, following in his ancestor's footsteps, would lead a bipartisan campaign to promote sex education and increase access to contraceptives, this would cut the number of abortions in the U.S. by half a million annually. doclink

U.S.: Angry Pro-choice Republicans

   March 28, 2006,

Republicans are organizing to find pro-choice candidates. At worst pro-choicers are becoming Democrats.

Pro-choice Republicans have grown frustrated since Bush's first day in office, when he halted funding to overseas family planning clinics. Tensions came to the fore with the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and finally South Dakota's abortion ban. Immediately after the South Dakota law passed many of the RMC's 150,000 members threatened to leave the Republican Party.

Bush's views have been clear but moderates are peaceful and don't want to rock the boat. But the party needs to see what it's become because it has got away from its basic ideals. The South Dakota law has forced anti-choice Republicans to publicly take a stand on exceptions for rape and incest.

It's confounding that people who say they are pro-choice belong to a party whose platform promises to oppose organizations involved in abortion, support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. doclink

Male US Representatives with Daughters More Likely to Vote in Favour of Abortion Rights

   February 8, 2006, Kaiser Network

According to a working paper published this month in the National Bureau of Economic Research, male US representatives with daughters are more likely to vote in favour of abortion rights. A male representative was more likely to vote with NOW's position on women's issues, if he had daughters. The association between voting records and daughters superseded any party affiliation. There were not enough female representatives in the 105th Congress to draw any conclusion about female representatives. doclink

US First Lady Defends Abstinence Approach to AIDS in Africa

   January 21, 2006, Agence France-Presse

Laura Bush defended the US government's emphasis on abstinence in battling HIV, saying it had proven to be effective. She told the BBC that it was important to promote abstinence. Her husband's administration supported an approach employed by Uganda that stressed abstinence, fidelity and the use of condoms, but it's important to talk about abstinence, especially in countries where girls think they have to comply with the wishes of men, are not educated, and are oppressed, in many instances. It was important to let people know that that's a choice. She added: "But it irritates me when I hear people act like abstinence is not a real choice, because it is, and it's 100%effective." Bush has said she expects a woman to be elected as US president in the near future. But Senator Hilary Clinton, a fierce critic of the current president, will not be able to count on support from the First Lady. "I think I'll vote for the Republican woman," Bush said. doclink

U.S.: Carter Condemns Abortion Culture

   November 4, 2005, Washington Times

Former President Jimmy Carter condemned abortions and chastised his party for its intolerance of candidates who oppose abortion, while across town Senate Democrats deliberated whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. Mr. Carter said his party's leadership hurts Democrats by taking a rigid pro-abortion rights stand. Mr. Carter' statements were "astonishing," said the director of the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women for America. "Maybe with Jimmy Carter saying things he never uttered before, more liberals will rethink their worship of abortion as the high holy sacrament of liberalism." Promoting his latest book, "Our Enduring Values," Mr. Carter acknowledged he made mistakes in office. He has been outspoken in condemning Mr. Bush's policy toward Iraq. But he praised Mr. Bush's policy toward war-torn Sudan, and declared that the best treatment he has received since leaving the Oval Office was from the first President Bush, and the second-best treatment he got was during the Reagan administration. The worst treatment he's received, was from President Clinton. Democrats must "let the deeply religious people and the moderates on social issues like abortion feel that the Democratic party cares about them and understands them," he said. doclink

When poor women's lives through unsafe abortion are at risk, we should care about and understand poor WOMEN and the problems they face.

Uganda: Back Condom Use, Museveni Urges Catholic Leaders

   June 15, 2005, IRIN News (UN)

Ugandan President called on the Catholic Church to drop its opposition to the use of condoms as they are one of the primary ways of fighting the spread of HIV. This is not to support immorality, but to recognise the weakness of those we live with and help them to live a healthy life. In sub-Sahara Africa, an estimated 25.4 million people are living with the disease. Two bishops had told reporters that the church would not accept condom use or financial aid from atheist NGOs to fight HIV. Their comments came in the wake of criticism that his government was abandoning condoms as a means to fight HIV/AIDS in favour of abstinence. The president said the church also should instil morals in the region's youth, as this would mitigate the spread of HIV. The bishops commended efforts to control the HIV pandemic, specifically institutions that encourage abstinence and fidelity. Uganda has won accolades for its fight against the pandemic, which has brought HIV prevalence rates down from over 20% in the 1980s to about 6% in 2004. The country has used a strategy popularly known as "ABC", or "Abstinence, Be faithful and use Condoms", to fight the disease. doclink

New Head of UNICEF Says No Change to Condom Policy

   May 27, 2005, Reuters

The new head of UNICEF has tried to calm fears that the agency would adopt more conservative policies under her leadership. Some workers had voiced concern that she might oppose condom promotion as it tries to tackle the AIDS pandemic. She raised concern when she said issues such as reproductive health were irrelevant to UNICEF's mission. But she said people who thought she was too conservative did not know her and no changes were planned. UNICEF and agencies promote "ABC" -- abstain, be faithful or use a condom -- in trying to limit the spread of AIDS. Some churches, African traditional leaders and western observers say condom promotion and sex education encourage promiscuity, while the Bush administration has cut off funds to the UNFPA which stresses access to family planning. Adult HIV in Swaziland is above 40%, and Malawi is struggling with a 14% infection rate. doclink

U.S. Probe Sought of Memo on 'Morning-After' Pill

   May 13, 2005, Reuters

Democrats called for an investigation into whether a memo from a Christian doctor influenced rejection of an over-the-counter "morning-after" contraceptive - Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Plan B. Reports about the memo added to concerns that politics was trumping science in the government's review of Plan B contraceptive. The memo's author is a Bush appointee, Dr. David Hager, to a FDA advisory panel that voted 23-4 approval to sell Plan B without a prescription. The FDA ruled against that advice citing concern that young girls might not be able to use Plan B safely. The FDA now is considering a new application for a set of pills that can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after intercourse. One of the dissenting votes confirmed that he wrote a memo to the FDA expressing the "minority opinion". He did not elaborate on the memo's contents or keep a copy of it. He is quoted as saying that the memo was written from a scientific perspective, not a Christian one. doclink

Fitter, Well-Rested Clinton Receives Humanitarian Award

   April 1, 2005, Washington Post

Bill Clinton accepted an award recognizing his work to promote AIDS treatment and prevention in the developing world. He said it was "unconscionable" how little wealthy countries are doing to prevent a public health catastrophe. Clinton received cheers from the physicians and scientists who greeted him at the annual awards banquet for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Clinton has made the fight against HIV abroad the centerpiece of his foundation and has negotiated lower drug prices and helped craft prevention and treatment programs in numerous countries. Such efforts earned him the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions. He said that after he and former president George H.W. Bush, traveled to Southeast Asia last month to promote tsunami relief, a poll in Indonesia showed support for the United States rising from 36% to 60% while support for Osama bin Laden dropped from 58% to 2%. He said the tsunami relief and AIDS campaigns underscore his message "If you live in an interdependent world where you cannot kill, jail or occupy all your enemies, you had better spend some of that money to make a world with more friends and fewer enemies." doclink

Sen. Clinton Chides Bush on Women's Health Policy

   January 12, 2005,

Hillary Clinton said the Bush administration was making it hard for the poor to receive reproductive health services by putting too much emphasis on abstinence to combat AIDS. She urged advocacy groups not to give up. President Bush administration is backing Uganda's policy on AIDS prevention, called ABC, which stands for 'Abstinence, Being faithful and Condom use'. But the U.S. puts the emphasis on abstinence. There are strategies that work and we are not fully committed in our government to implement those strategies. Some 20 million women risked unsafe abortions every year and about 68,000 die from the consequences. Clinton was a key speaker at the 1995 U.N. women's conference in Beijing, which decided that reproductive health care and family planning service is a basic right. doclink

Creating a Corporate Conscience; Foundation Says Doing Good is Good Business

   March 30, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle

Dell Inc. will become the first PC-maker to commit to goals for recycling computers. The Gap will begin releasing reports on factory working conditions in some countries. Home Depot has stopped selling old-growth and tropical lumber. These changes started with resolutions initiated by the As You Sow Foundation in San Francisco, which assists with socially responsible investment funds, and nudges corporations toward better treatment of workers and the environment. It helps form shareholder coalitions, solicit support from investors, write resolutions and get the ear of management. It analyzes the benefits to companies of going green or changing their labor practices. As You Sow provides communication between the grassroots groups and the focus of major corporations. The group is funded through consulting fees and grants. The group pointed out that if anyone could figure out the logistics to get computers back for recycling, it would be Dell. It lined up the Calvert Funds as a co-sponsor, and found other shareholders who agreed that recycling of computers is an important issue. Dell lets consumers send in old PCs for recycling for $5 and offers recycling days in major cities. Dell also includes information about recycling in its catalog. Almost 300 shareholder resolutions on social issues were filed last year. Ten or 15 years ago, religious investors were filing shareholder proposals on social issues, but now pension funds, labor unions, responsible investment firms and groups are becoming active. Campaigns by As You Sow and shareholders led to Coca-Cola and Pepsi agreeing to use recycled plastic; Staples and Office Depot increasing the amount of recycled content in paper and McDonald's and Walt Disney Co. monitoring labor practices at overseas vendors. The specter of a resolution inspires corporations to come to the negotiating table. As You Sow Chairman Thomas Van Dyck, 46, founded the group in 1994 to hold corporations accountable for complying with California's toxic labeling law. As You Sow branched into corporate social responsibility in 1997. The capital markets can create social change more quickly than legislation because that profit incentive is in place. The best management incorporates environmental and employee practices that are sustainable long term. doclink

Schwarzenegger Suggests that He Might Shut Down California EPA

   September 30, 2003, Los Angeles Times

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), one of the more famous of the California gubernatorial candidates in the recall election, suggested that he might terminate the state's environmental protection agency. A farmer asked why the state needed Cal/EPA when there was a federal EPA. Schwarzenegger answered: "What you just talked about is the waste -- overlapping agencies." ... "They cost a fortune. We have to strip that down and get rid of some of those agencies." In the meantime, the current governor, Gray Davis (D)just signed three bills that will help tackle water-pollution problems, and is in the process of hammering-out out two high-profile land-conservation deals in southern California. doclink

U.S.: Dean Calls for Stronger Environmental Protection in S.F. Speech

   August 1, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle

Howard Dean called for increased use of renewable resources, better fuel efficiency, and making the EPA a cabinet-level agency. As president, he would mandate 20% of electricity come from renewable power by 2020, and require improved fuel efficiency to 40 miles per gallon by 2015. He pledged to provide money for environmental enforcement and participate in international environmental treaties. Dean criticized President Bush, dismissing his initiatives. doclink

MAHB - the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior: Your Invitation to Participate

   Paul Erlich - Bill Reyerson popnews email list

While scholars have adequately detailed how to deal with the major issues of the human predicament caused by our success as a species, nothing serious is being done. There is clearly not a need for more natural science but rather a need for better understanding of human behaviors and how they can be altered to direct humanity toward a sustainable society before it is too late.

Thus a group of natural scientists, social scientists, and scholars from the humanities decided to inaugurate a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB --- pronounced "mob"). It is human behavior, toward one another and toward the planet that sustains all of us, that requires rapid modification. It is hoped that MAHB will serve as a major tool for promoting conscious cultural evolution.

The MAHB is partially modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which involves hundreds of scientists and whose role is to sort out the scientific validity of claims and counterclaims of competing interests and to find equitable solutions. Sessions are open and transparent, and representatives of various governments, interested industries, and environmental organizations also participate as observers.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, developed to assess the condition of Earth's life-support systems, may serve as another partial model for MAHB.

Plans are for the MAHB to be kicked off with a world megaconference, targeted for 2011, to initiate a continuing process. If you are interested in learning more follow the link in the headline. doclink

A Woman's Place is in the Presidential Mansion; What's Behind the Rise of Female Politicians in Latin America?

Chile's Michelle Bachelet came close to becoming the country's first female president, and is expected to land the job after a runoff this month. Bachelet's political rise was not facilitated by a politically powerful husband. In Peru, Congresswoman Lourdes Flores is favored to win April's presidential election, and Argentina's first lady, Cristina Kirchner, is touted as a successor to her husband. Since 1991, 12 Latin American countries have enacted laws that in some cases have doubled the number of female congressional representatives. While in the US women make up 15% of the House of Representatives and 14% of the Senate, in Argentina and Costa Rica, women comprise one-third of the national congresses. But feminists will find less to celebrate as these female politicians tend to be conventional leaders and they've done little to disturb the status quo. Peru's Flores has benefited from the notion that women are less prone to corruption. While these candidates capitalize on their status as women, they don't generally place women-friendly issues at the forefront of their agendas. Cristina Kirchner has never expressed interest in advancing issues like equal pay. Flores, is an economic conservative and a staunch supporter of the Catholic Church. Bachelet a former pediatrician and mother of three is more women-focused. As health minister she approved sales of the morning-after pill, and has called for generous child-care subsidies. Kirchner and Flores were first elected to office a decade and a half ago, before the number of women in their countries' legislatures spiked with the introduction of quota laws. Many Latin American countries use a proportional representation system where seats are allocated to parties based on the proportion of votes they receive. Who gets to fill the coveted slots in Congress often depends on party chiefs. So, women owe the bosses for their presence in the legislature and need to keep them happy if they want to stay there. While quotas haven't produced big shifts in governance, the increased diversity is a breakthrough. A similar dynamic can be discerned in the US. The two women who are most frequently mentioned as presidential contenders Sen. Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both came to public prominence through their relationships to US presidents. doclink


U.K.: London Summit: a Compilation of Commitments

   September 17, 2012, International Planned Parenthood Federation

The London Summit on Family Planning held in July harvested commitments from organisations and nations which enabled it to easily overshoot that $2.3 billion target. The Summary of Commitments from the UK Department of International Development reported that commitments came from 10 donor countries, 6 foundations, 19 developing countries, 21 civil society groups, 3 multi-lateral partnerships, and 1 private sector company.

The goal of the summit was to raise sufficient donor funds to meet the unmet need for contraception of 120 million women worldwide by 2020. This would require an extra $4.3 billion injected into family planning programs over the next 8 years. Of that $4.3 billion, $2.3 billion would be provided by donors.

In summary, the world is putting its money where its mouth is, taking Sexual and Reproductive Health seriously, and placing it at the center of the development agenda.

The Summary of Commitments incorporates International Planned Parenthood Federation's (IPPF) own commitment to treble the number of women's and girls' lives saved each year by 2020.

With increased capacity, increased funding, and strengthened service delivery systems, IPPF aims to save the lives of 54,000 women and girls, avert 46 million unintended pregnancies, and prevent 12.4 million unsafe abortions by 2020. The federation will also triple its services to young people by 2020, and make commodities more affordable. doclink

U.S.: Book Review: "Margaret Sanger: a Life of Passion"

   August 3, 2012, Population Connection

Jean H. Baker's biography "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion" rejects the narrow-mindedness that has characterized many previous Sanger biographies and instead focuses on Margaret Sanger's life as a whole - her flaws and missteps yes, but also her determination, intelligence, and steadfast commitment to improving the lives of millions of women and their families.

Sanger's view on reproductive rights and fight for universal access to birth control (as well as her controversial teachings on safe sex, child bearing and maternal health) made her a frequent target of those on the religious right. But words like "eugenicist" and "egotistical" have been allowed to mar her story and deter from her accomplishments.

Margaret Sanger was the 6th daugher of poor parents in Corning, N.Y., who watched her mother endure five more pregnancies before succumbing to tuberculosis at a young age. She trained as a nurse in what became New York's Lower East Side, helping young women deliver child after child, many of whom could not afford to feed their growing families and begged for the "secret" of pregnancy prevention.

Sanger, in a campaign to fight the injustice of inavailability of pregnancy prevention, wrote books, gave speeches, opened the first women's health clinics in the U.S., and ultimately spawned a birth control movement that would expand around the world.

She was bold and ruthless, difficult to befriend and often turned away potential collaboration. She ignored the contributions of her co-workers, and left her children for long stretches of time, preferring a life of travel and activism to the comforts and responsibilities of home. But she was effective.

Born into a world where sex and pregnancy were rarely discussed (much less sex for pleasure and pregnancy by choice) Sanger lived to see the historic creation of the birth control pill and the declaration of birth control as a constitutional right.

Margaret Sanger, then, was not the perfectly packaged hero we read about in historical textbooks, nor the demon described by the right. In "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion," we have the unique opportunity to see the activist as she really was: bold, ruthless, compassionate, flawed. And that, I think, is pretty cool. doclink

The People Problem: Are There Too Many of Us?

   March 1, 2012

Jane Turville is making a documentary film series called 'The People Problem' to educate the people in the environmental and sustainability communities who view population growth through a very narrow, specific lens that doesn't allow for an inclusive discussion. 'Stop having kids' seems to be their only solution. The other reason for making the series is that those of us who are interested in exploring population growth, don't know or can't relate to the many issues involved, so we have problems even starting a broader discussion.

Why don't people well-versed in sustainability issues feel as comfortable talking about the number of people on the planet as they do about ending oil dependence or shopping locally? We think over-population is an issue, but to talk about it feels like we somehow support forcing people to give up basic human rights. And, face it, telling someone they can't have kids IS impinging on the basic human right to choose the size of one's family.

The majority of the information on population out there is very good and very compelling, but despite all of the data, stories and programs, Jane couldn't figure out very easily exactly how all of this related to her - a white gal, living in a small city in America, trying to live more sustainably. The hole in the information is "how does it apply to me."

Last year, she decided to make a film. It is a four-part series that will be marketed to public broadcasting stations in North America as well as international venues. Material from the four-hour series will also be used to create a 90-minute documentary suitable for public screenings and film festivals. The goal is to broadcast the film in Spring 2015.

Many ideas float around regarding over-population. Everything from remaining childless for the sake of the planet, placing limits on health access for seniors, and building walls to eliminate immigration. All of these ideas have one thing in common. They all diminish personal choice. Most of us (including myself) value the freedom to choose your own destiny as a basic human right. Yet, people fear that talking about population growth is, in fact, a discussion on the removal of this basic human right.

Most population information is presented through numbers, charts and graphs. While the information is compelling, it's really hard to take data presented in this form and apply it to yourself. So, it's easy to conclude that it's someone else's issue and that responsibility lies elsewhere.

The film will present population issues in a way that (a) alleviates fear about discussing population and (b) translates compelling data into stories that resonate with mainstream citizens.

Using the nesting basket sustainability model as a framework, the film will weave interviews with professionals into the stories of three families located in America, Brazil and China. The data explained by professionals is immediately illustrated through each family's story. By showing the data's real-world applications for real families, the film will help viewers relate with statistical information and at the same time, bring to light the role of affluence and consumerism in population issues, dispelling the myth that it is a third world problem. We'll also take a look at population throughout history.

In the 'nesting basket' model, the first basket represents earth's natural systems, which should be healthy and abundant. The second basket rests inside the first and represents society, which thrives only when nested in a healthy environment. The third basket nests in the social basket and represents the economy, which remains stable when the baskets it rests in are strong. This structure achieves the balance required for a sustainable society.

If humans are going to make educated decisions about the environment, social issues and economies, population has to be part of the conversation. We shouldn't be afraid to talk about it. We shouldn't shrug it off as someone else's problem. If you want to be the catalyst that brings a balanced discussion into homes, churches, classrooms, and boardrooms, you should support this project.

.. http to make a donation to the making of this film. doclink

Karen Gaia: Calling it the 'People Problem' can be another problem. Too many bad connotations.

Right-Wingers Bash Gore for Wanting Women to Have Access to Birth Control: Gore's Radical Agenda: Save Babies, Educate Girls, Empower Women

   June 22, 2011, Grist Magazine

by Lisa Hymas, Grist's senior editor

Al Gore criticizing Obama for inaction on climate drew a lot of attention from the mainstream media, but when Al Gore said we should educate girls, keep kids from dying, and make birth control available to women, the right-wing media cranked up.

Gore gave one of most mild and noncontroversial statements anyone could make about population: "One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principal ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women. You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children to have, the spacing of the children. You have to lift child-survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families. And most important, you have to educate girls and empower women. And that's the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices."

He didn't say governments should make people have fewer children. He didn't say people ought to decide on their own to have fewer children.

But climate denier Anthony Watts says "Al Gore branches out into population control theory."

Joe Newby at "Al Gore promotes having fewer children to curb pollution," a good idea, but not what Gore said.

Billy Hallowell at The Blaze said "Gore said that couples need to learn to 'feel comfortable having small families' so that pollution can be curbed," while Gore actually said that parents might "feel comfortable having small families" if they were confident their kids wouldn't die young.

Conservatives seem to need to maintain their favorite stereotype of greens as fascist quasi-eugenicists who want to control population via tyranny. Some of them need to find plausible-sounding excuses to go after contraception.

It's almost hard to believe that there are still Americans who object to birth control -- more than 99% of American women who've had intercourse have used contraception, including 98% of Catholic women.86% of Americans say the availability of the Pill has been a good thing for society.

Hard-core right-wingers want to stop women from using birth control. Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian (R), said: "Well of course it's a war on birth control."

Who's got the radical agenda? doclink

Karen Gaia: I have no problem with radical conservatives having such an opinion, but their attempts to legislate their version of morality threaten the rest of us. Unfortunately, many of their gurus rely on ranting instead of science, and those that talk the loudest and use the most hyperbole get the most attention. The Population Research Institute (a misleading name) perpetuate many of the lies that radical conservatives believe.

Indian Ideas, Models

   March 24, 2011, The Economic Times (India)

Bill and Melinda Gates, cochairs of the world's largest private foundation, are in India to talk about healthcare.

"India is a hotbed of innovation. The ideas and healthcare interventions we work on here can help solve world's problems, be it in Guatemala , Zambia or elsewhere," said Melinda Gates in Delhi.

"While India's economy is growing at a fast pace, the country is also home to half of the world's malnourished children" .. "notably in Bihar which has a population of 98 million and one of the worst affected by the burden of disease".

Since 2003, the foundation has invested more than $1.2 billion in projects aimed at improving public health and development outcomes in the country. In India, the foundation focuses mainly on women and child care, eradication of polio, malaria and HIV.

Mr Gates said the foundation is open to working with the government on its family planning services.

"Bihar has an immense capacity to innovate. If it were a country , it would be the 12th largest in the world. Some of the things we have done here can be taken to other regions as well,' Gates said. Even things like getting men to deliver vaccines on cycles and training women to deliver them to target populations have made immense impact on improving healthcare. doclink

Gates Warns of Pressure on Health Aid

   January 24, 2010, Financial Times

Funding for health is being squeezed out by donor support for climate change, says Bill Gates, one of the world's leading philanthropists.

Mr Gates himself is stepping up investment in carbon-free energy and green technology.

"If just 1 per cent of the $100 billion goal [for carbon reduction] came from vaccine funding, then 700,000 more children could die from preventable diseases. In the long run, not spending on health is a bad deal for the environment because improvements in health, including voluntary family planning, lead people to have smaller families, which in turn reduces the strain on the environment."

Gates, in an interview with the Financial Times, said that, by tackling child mortality, his existing programmes were helping reduce the birth rate and cut demographic pressure, while work on improved agricultural crops that were drought resistant was helping to deal with the consequences of global warming.

Gates felt that energy consumption would not be sufficient to tackle climate change; the best solution for global warming was for-profit investment in new carbon-free energy technologies. doclink

Billionaire Club in Bid to Curb Overpopulation; America's Richest People Meet to Discuss Ways of Tackling a 'disastrous' Environmental, Social and Industrial Threat

   May 24, 2009, Times Online

David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America's wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey met to consider spending some of their wealth on slowing the growth of the world's population and speed up improvements in health and education.

They met in secret to discuss joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change, and they didn't want to be seen as a global cabal. These members of the "Good Club", one member dubbed it, have given away more than 45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

The issues debated included reforming the supervision of overseas aid spending to setting up rural schools and water systems in developing countries. Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

Gates, who is giving away most of his fortune, said last February, "Official projections say the world's population will peak at 9.3 billion [today the population is 6.86 billion, growing at about 1 billion every 12 years] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion." doclink

Ted Turner on Going Green

   April 14, 2008, Sunday Paper

The Ted Turner Foundation supports efforts for improving air and water quality, developing sustainable energy resources, safeguarding environmental health, maintaining wildlife habitat protection and developing practices and policies to curb population growth rates. Underlying Ted Turner's endeavors is a dedication to conservation and the environment. The average food item in the US travels more than 1,000 miles from where it's grown to where it's consumed. If you ordered dinner sent from California and had to pay the transportation cost, it's just ridiculous.

Humanity is facing such a crisis caused by mainly two things: First, the increasing number of people. Just 70 years ago, there were two billion people on earth. Now there's 6 and a half billionthree and a half times as many people! Human beings are overwhelming the environment, and that's what's leading to problems like global warming and the hole in the ozone layer. The second problem is that we're using more stuff. In America, the average home today is twice the square footage it was 70 tears ago. Now everybody stops by the grocery store every day or two or stops by the fast food place to get something. To get things turned around it's going to take government, individuals, everything we have. We're going to have to have a new renaissance of intelligent planning for the future.

We didn't go along with Kyoto. We should have been fighting a war against global warming rather than a war against the Iraqis. doclink

Philanthropist and Media Pioneer Ted Turner and the Jacoby Group ...

   February 13, 2008, PR Newswire

Ted Turner will be the recipient of the 2008 Lindbergh Award in recognition of his dedication to the environment. The Jacoby Group will be the recipient of the Lindbergh Corporate Award for their commitment to sustainable and environmentally sensitive development. "As the largest landowner in the country, Ted Turner is making a huge contribution toward not only protecting the environment from development, but also promoting the conservation and re-introduction of native species on his land," said Foundation Chairman. His efforts on behalf of the environment combined with his endeavor to provide clean energy make him an ideal recipient for the Lindbergh Award which is presented annually to individuals who have made significant contributions over many years toward improving our quality of life by balancing technological advancements and the preservation of our environment.

Turner established the Turner Foundation which supports clean water and toxic reduction projects; clean air through improved energy efficiency and renewables; wildlife habitat protection; and equitable practices and policies aimed at reducing population growth rates. "We have a beautiful, fragile planet where all people and all things are interdependent and interconnected," says Turner on the Turner Foundation, Inc., web site.

Turner launched a clean energy business venture to provide clean power solutions to several U.S. markets, including California. Turner believes our future depends on changing the way we use energy, and recommends moving away from fossil fuels and developing long-term energy solutions that work. doclink

U.S.: Women's Health Care Pioneer Dies at 95

   January 12, 2006, Associated Press

Mabel Wadsworth, a pioneer in the advancement of women's health care in Maine died Wednesday at her home, she was 95. "The work that she did for women around reproductive rights and delivery of service has been long-lasting," said Ruth Lockhart, executive director of the Mabel Wadsworth Women's Health Center. "It wasn't about feminism," Wadsworth said in a recent interview. "It was educating women that you could take a pill and not have any more babies." Wadsworth served as the first president of the Maine Family Planning Association and helped enact legislation that mandated teenagers' rights to confidential contraceptive services. doclink

Gates Donations Rival UN Health Spending

   November 3, 2005, NPR

Over the past five years, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just about matches the contributions of the World Health Organization every year and it focuses on high-tech, high-risk, high-reward projects. Along with the money, the Gates Foundation has injected hope into the struggle to develop vaccines for diseases like malaria, which kills at least 3,000 people every day. The Gates Foundation also provides funds to NPR to support reporting on international health issues. This week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $258 million to support the fight against malaria and with this donation; it probably comes closer to $800 million they've given for vaccine research as well as other forms of malaria control like bed nets and so forth. Prior to that, malaria was not a high priority in both research and also in aid to Africa, most people were resigned to the fact that it was a problem of the developing world. The scientific community saw it as hopeless in that the parasites were fairly complex compared to a flu virus virus and so it's much more difficult to develop a vaccine. And there was no economic incentive because who are you going to sell it to? People in the Third World can't afford it. Five years ago when the Gates Foundation started this initiative to fund vaccine programs, it had a mixed reaction. Initially, the Gates Foundation was interested in population issues and that evolved to a focus on vaccination because vaccination saves lives. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation got very excited about the power of vaccines to both save lives and, in an indirect way, help reduce population problems. They gave $750 million to create a consortium known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. The Gates Foundation has different priorities and resources than traditional organizations, they've been a challenging addition to the global community working on public health and development. The foundation has a vision to serve as a model showing that things can be done, and they're able to concentrate their resources in certain programs or certain countries and do so. Should there be separation from Bill Gates the philanthropist and Gates the businessman, the Gates resources are being programmed through reputable, independent, highly scientifically competent organizations that have a very specific mission and it has little to do with market development or the business interest of Microsoft Corporation. It's tough to find any self-serving motive behind the global health initiative. doclink

Book Signing Set for Redlands Author; Jane Roberts Says Her Grass-roots Fundraising Has Been 'an Incredible Adventure'

   November 3, 2005, Press Enterprise (US)

Jane Roberts was mad that the Bush administration had refused to release the funds Congress had approved for UNFPA and she set out to raise the $34 million - she would ask 34 million Americans to send $1 each to UNFPA. Lois Abraham came up with a similar idea, the U.N. agency put the two in contact and they joined forces. Together they gave birth to 34 Million Friends of the Women of the World. By May 1, 2003, the organization had raised $ 1 million and a recent tally puts the total at nearly $ 2.75 million. UNFPA has been using the money for family-planning supplies and the prevention and repair of obstetric fistula. Ted Turner's U.N. Foundation has donated grant funds and support. A first-hand account of her experiences, published by Ladybug Press is titled "34 Million Friends of the Women of the World." After co-founding the organization, Roberts began speaking around the world about the fundraising effort. Roberts and Abraham were nominated, along with 998 other women, for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. They did not win, but their nomination brought attention to their efforts. For years she believed herself to be the lay person best informed and most passionate about women's reproductive issues and problems. "I am living in a dream world, doing what I want to do most in the latter years of my life." doclink

PAI Pledges Commitment and Action to Clinton Global Initiative

   September 26, 2005

Population Action International (PAI), represented by President & CEO Amy Coen, was among a group of world leaders at the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. A project of the William J. Clinton Foundation, it is driven by key issues: global poverty, the growing gap between rich and poor peoples, religion, climate change, good governance, enterprise and investment. The conference brought together some of the world's creative minds to discuss these issues, devise plans for addressing them, and pledge a specific commitment to action. Pledges totaled $1.25 billion in commitments and plans for action. Among them, PAI pledged to advance the benefits when governments make reproductive health a development priority. To act on the linkage between reproductive health and the reduction of poverty, PAI joins with policy-makers, international agencies, corporate leaders and professional associations, charitable organizations and other non-profit institutions like PAI. doclink

Gates' Huge Donations Causes Ripple Effect in Global Health

   July 28, 2005, Knight Ridder (US)

The Microsoft magnate Bill Gates has spent nearly as much in the past five years just to improve global health _ $5.4 billion _ as John D. Rockefeller gave to all causes in his 97-year lifetime. The United Nations World Health Organization says that 670,000 lives have been saved by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment of $28.8 billion. Gates is convincing rich and poor countries, international health organizations and drug makers to do more to prevent Third World diseases. The goals of the new Gates-funded global coalitions are, for example: a malaria vaccine, or a spermicide for women that also can ward off AIDS. The singer Bono and the Bush administration, among others, have followed Gates' lead A recent Gates donation backs research on tough technical problems - like devising vaccines that don't require refrigeration, creating vaccines that can be administered without needles, using genetic research to incapacitate disease-carrying insects. Gates also supports research into vaccines for malaria and tuberculosis and AIDS-. This trio causes more than 6 million deaths a year worldwide, according to the WHO. Another 2.1 million people _ two-thirds of them younger than 5 _ die of infectious diseases that already available vaccines could avert.
A case worth noting is researcher Scott Halstead, who's spent 40-some years seeking a dengue-fever vaccine. Dengue, an infectious mosquito-borne tropical disease of the joints that kills about 3,000 South American and Asian children a year, also afflicts developing-world economies because outbreaks sideline workers, deter trade and discourage tourism. Last year $55 million from the Gates Foundation doubled the worldwide dengue-research budget to $10 million a year. Other donors _ the WHO, the European Union and the Swiss drug company Novartis _ followed Gates with new commitments to fight dengue. doclink

43 Ways to Save the World; the Grand Challenges in Global Health

   July 2, 2005, Economist

Most of the money to meet the Grand Challenges in Global Health comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Britain's Wellcome Trust has chipped in $27m, and the Canadian government $4.5m. The Grand Challenges are 14 technical obstacles to a healthier world. The specific challenges are grouped under seven goals - from creating new vaccines to measuring health status accurately in developing countries. They do not address better health, poverty and misgovernment. The winning projects are in their preliminary phases, and the sponsors expect attrition along the way. Many proposals have to meet "milestone" objectives by particular dates. One of the biggest obstacles to a healthier world is a lack of chains for transporting temperature-sensitive medicines. Vaccines need to be kept refrigerated and that is not easy where fridges are far apart and electricity unreliable. Abraham Sonenshein, of Tufts University thinks that one way to overcome this is to incorporate vaccines through genetic engineering into bacterial spores, which are resistant to temperature changes. Genes for proteins from disease organisms will be added to the bacteria to cause the proteins to be incorporated into the spore's coat, so that they are visible to the immune system. The spores will act as the vaccine. Another challenge is to develop needle-free delivery of vaccines where people would get vaccinated by drinking water laced with the spores. An option is to make what is, in essence, vaccine snuff. The winners have a common design, to produce something that will be absorbed by the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Existing vaccines work by stimulating the immune system in the blood and the lymph. But soft, moist membranes are vulnerable to bacteria and viruses, and have their own, immune responses which might be used by a suitable vaccine. One team proposes an AIDS vaccine that would encourage an immune response in a woman's vagina. That would stop HIV from getting into her body. One group will look at the immune systems of a group of Kenyan prostitutes who have lived for years with the risks of exposure to HIV but have not become infected. There is also a list of ideas for dealing with insect-borne diseases, from changing mosquito genetics and spreading genes that make mosquitoes sterile to infecting mosquitoes with bacteria that kill them before they become infectious. Since malnourished people are more likely to become ill, there are plans to develop strains of banana, cassava and rice that have a full complement of vitamins and minerals. There is a plan for a hand-held diagnostic system, that would take a drop of blood and run it over a card covered with chemicals that react with molecules produced by particular diseases. Implementation is everything - AIDs drugs have been available for a decade, but only now are significant numbers of those in need them receiving them. doclink

Global Poverty; The 1 Percent Solution

   December 18, 2004, Star Tribune

On a planet where a billion people live on less than a dollar a day and needless death is common what can one person do. They can help with leadership from an effort by 11 U.S. groups esteemed for helping the poor help themselves. Called "One Campaign" the groups include CARE, World Vision, Bread for the World, Save the Children. They already spend more than $4 billion a year in assistance and know that the private dollars can't prevail against poverty alone. Their new quest asks every American to insist that the USA makes fighting world poverty a priority. The plight of the world's poor is not hopeless. Measures include: universal childhood vaccination; an effort to get every child into school; well-drillers; health educators; ramped-up AIDS prevention; food supplements; easy access to reproductive health care; strategic microcredit; and an end to Western farm subsidies. The Bush administration has increased U.S. AIDS assistance but easing the developing world will require more investment. Launched by a $3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this seeks to enlist Americans to push for using an additional 1% of the U.S. budget to face the poverty crisis. The campaign is backed by leaders from the Bush White House and the former Clinton administration. As Mark McKinnon, adviser to President Bush, said earlier this week, The majority of the U.S. favors a hike in U.S. humanitarian aid. doclink

Gates Foundation Gives $1 Million to Bangladesh Group

   June 3, 2004, Associated Press

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will give $1 million for health programs for poor people in Bangladesh. The programs serve about 31 million people, almost a quarter of the country's population. The services range from nutrition centers to AIDS prevention education. doclink

'Gates Challenge' Is Program for Healthy World

   May 19, 2003, Dallas Morning News

The Gates foundation has committed $200 million to address the world's major health issues such as tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS, smoking, substance abuse disorders and mental-health afflictions. The Gates challenge is about suggesting finding solutions. The idea is to pursue a discovery that would break through to where we would like to be in science, medicine, and public health. Submissions will be evaluated by a scientific board and the initiative will publish requests for fundeding. The process will call attention to aspects of global health in need of study and some mix of media and medical expertise will be needed to impart the information to practitioners and patients. Making this happen will require more than discovery and innovation. Distributing the benefits of the research around the world is a problem. doclink

PBS' 'NOW With Bill Moyers' Profiles Bill Gates' Philanthropy on Public Health Issues, Including Reproductive Health

   May 15, 2003, Public Broadcasting System

In this interview Bill Gates discussed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the public health crises facing the world, his foundation's efforts to address them and the "roadblocks" to improving public health. Gates said the foundation has progressed on reproductive family planning and also discussed the foundation's funding for microbicides, which he considers an important method of blocking sexual transmission of HIV. The program's web site includes an overview of global health including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, population growth, poverty and vaccine development. doclink


   May 11, 2003, Inter Press Service

With the help of $1.5 million from Mellinda and Bill Gates Foundation the African Womens Media Center (AWMC) has launched a study of public health issues in Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi and Senegal. The starting point will identify perceptions and gaps in coverage of issues like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB). The campaign will be launched in the following two years. The media can give people a perspective about the world that they live in and information that they need. HIV/AIDS has affected over 40 million people world-wide - 80% in Sub-Sahara Africa. doclink

Write or Lobby Your Lawmaker

U.S.: State Facts About Unintended Pregnancy

   December 19, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

There are 6.7 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year About half of these are unintended. Births resulting from unintended pregnancies have been linked to adverse maternal and child health outcomes and myriad social and economic challenges, including costs to the federal and state governments of $11 billion (2006).

The Guttmacher Institute has launched a new tool that gives the incidence and outcomes of unintended pregnancy in each state, including the proportion of all pregnancies that are unintended; the rates of unintended pregnancy; the proportions of unintended pregnancies that result in births and abortions; and the proportion of all births resulting from unintended pregnancy;

Also given is the public cost of unintended pregnancy in each state, and the impact in each state of publicly funded family planning services.

Adam Sonfield, senior public policy associate at Guttmacher, said of the fact sheets: "They are a comprehensive resource that documents the significant state-level benefits of investing in publicly funded family planning services, both in helping women avert unintended pregnancies, births and abortions, and generating considerable savings to the federal and state governments." doclink

Karen Gaia says: Sounds like a very useful tool for activists to use when having a conversation with their legislators.