WHO Panel Discusses Global State of Reproductive, Sexual Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored a news conference last week at the National Press Club to bring attention to the declining status of sexual and reproductive health in the global development agenda. A panel of health policy experts discussed the release of a series published by Lancet, a UK medical journal, that provides data on the lack of availability of and the decline of financial support for reproductive healthcare. The journal also raised concerns about the increased political interference and the reluctance of governments to tackle issues regarding poor reproductive healthcare in developing countries.
According to the panel, the reproductive community has lost support and has become further isolated because sexual and reproductive health remains a controversial issue. More and more, the already small amount of monetary support and aid is being allocated for more visible and less controversial issues like HIV/AIDS. According to Maurice Middleberg, vice president for public policy at the Global Health Council, the fact that "sexual and reproductive health has become a woman�s issue" further weakens support from the global community. Middleberg recommends cultivating allies and "building bridges" with other groups and recasting sexual and reproductive health so that it is seen as a "human issue."
For the past five years, the United States has withheld money that Congress allocated for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In September 2006, President Bush blocked $34 million from going to the UNFPA, which uses its funds to lower infant and maternal mortality, increase access to contraceptive services, and decrease the incidence of obstetric fistula. The US has withheld a total of $161 million of pledge funds.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .