President Obama pledged on Friday to restore United States funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in upcoming appropriations. Bush-era withholding of UNFPA monies that had been authorized by Congress accounted for 13 percent of the total funding of UNFPA yearly for programs that improve access and quality of reproductive health care including family planning, prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula, and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.
The withheld funding would have prevented some two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death each year.
In a press release, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said "President Obama's decision could not have come at a more critical time….If women are to stop dying in childbirth and if reproductive health for all is to become a reality, we need increased political and financial commitment at all levels to implement strategies that we know will work. With the renewed US support to women and to UNFPA, the odds of that happening are greatly improved."
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. . . .