The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof joins women’s rights organizations throughout the United States in urging President Bush to release $34 million appropriated to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) by Congress. In an Op/Ed last week, Kristof noted that he wished Bush could “visit the women whose lives are thus devastated” by the U.S. refusal to release the funds, which total 13 percent of the UNFPA budget. Bush placed a hold on the funds after Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, alleged that UNFPA supported forced abortions and sterilization in China. UNFPA has denied the allegations and has invited the Bush Administration to send a fact-finding team to China to investigate the charges. So far, no team has been assembled. In his article, Kristof highlighted the fact that “the population fund does not support abortion services.” He continued, “On the contrary, the cutoff of $34 million could result in an additional 800,000 abortions per year because of less contraception available. The reality is that the population fund is active not only in providing contraception but also in waging a lonely struggle to oppose female genital mutilation, the spread of AIDS and the scourge of mothers dying in childbirth.”
Already, UNFPA has been forced to cut new programs and staff because of under-funding this year, and thousands of women and teenage girls will go without critically needed family planning services – girls like Aisha Idris. Krisof introduces us to Idris, a Sudanese girl, who at 14 gave birth, without the aid of a midwife, after receiving no prenatal care. Idris suffered from fistula, which Kristof explains as the “tearing of her rectum, urethra and vagina, leaving her incontinent and causing bodily wastes to seep through her vaginal canal and down her legs.” Hundreds of thousands of women suffer from fistula in the developing world, but according to Dr. Abdullah Kannan, a Sudanese gynecologist, the problem is “100 percent preventable” and has “disappeared completely from Western countries.” UNFPA supports programs that prevent complications like fistula along with programs that help prevent unwanted pregnancies and unnecessary maternal, infant, and child deaths.
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. . . .