Six Nepalese women die each day from botched illegal abortions according to Panos, an international non-profit organization focusing on the developing world. In October 2001, the Nepalese Lower House of Parliament voted, however, to legalize first trimester abortions and make abortion within 18-weeks of pregnancy legal in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the health of the woman. After four months, though, the National Assembly of Parliament has yet to approve the bill. Abortion rights supporters are now stepping up efforts to get the bill passed, but the struggle is an uphill one.
In addition to challenges faced within the Nepalese government, abortion rights supporters, often associated with family planning clinics, must also overcome the global gag rule, a U.S. policy that prevents clinics receiving U.S. funds from providing, counseling, or promoting abortion even if these activities are funded with separate monies. The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) and the Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA) have both refused U.S. funds in order to support liberalizing Nepalese abortion laws. According to FPAN Director Dr. Nirmal K. Bista, if he had accepted U.S. funds, “I would be prevented from speaking in my own country…about a healthcare crisis I know first hand.” FPAN lost $250,000 in U.S. funds because of its decision, but Bista is continuing to spread his message. In addition, CREHPA has formed a committee, at the urging of the Nepalese Ministry of Health, to advise the government on measures to end unsafe abortion. Anand Tamang, Director of CREHPA, however predicts, “The global gag rule will [continue to] have a chilling effect as it will discourage NGOs receiving U.S. funds from assisting the Ministry of Health in Sade Motherhood activities, such as public education and advocacy on the proposed abortion law.”
Nepal has the fourth highest maternal death rate in the world. 539 women of reproductive age out of 100,000 die each year from pregnancy-related complications, and the United Nations estimates that 50 percent of these women die from illegal abortions. Desperate women have submitted to abortions performed using sticks or shards of glass, among other horrific methods. Up to 60 percent of women admitted to OB/GYN wards in a Kathmandu hospital suffer from post-botched abortion complications, including hemorrhaging, gangrene, and sepsis. Many of these women will also face criminal charges. A 1997 study showed that 1 in 5 female prisoners in Nepal were imprisoned for abortion.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .