Capitol Hill Briefing Highlights Maternal Health in Afghanistan
Congresswomen and global health administrators held a briefing on Capitol Hill Tuesday to highlight the issue of maternal health in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the world according to UNICEF. Women's Policy Inc. sponsored the event in collaboration with the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues.
Melanne Verveer, the first-ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's issues, spoke of women in Afghanistan "dying because medical facilities lack the equipment or the means to provide care under the best circumstances and in other circumstances because they lack electricity," reported Voice of America News. She also referenced an Afghan bill intended to eliminate violence against women that Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly will sign. The bill establishes a six month prison sentence for men who prevent women from working, getting an education or receiving health care, reports Agence France Presse.
Afghan Midwives Association President Pashtoon Azfar, and USAID Senior Maternal Health Advisor, Mary Ellen Stanton, both spoke on successful midwife training programs that have greatly increased the number of skilled care providers in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan was recently criticized by the United Nations for the impact corruption and instability have on the Afghan people, especially women. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report last week that "slammed Afghanistan for failing to curb violence against women and for sustaining a culture of impunity that leaves such crimes unpunished," reported Agence France Presse.
Media Resources: UNICEF 7/7/09; Voice of America News 7/14/09; Agence France Presse 7/14/09
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. . . .