House Republicans Aim to Stop Release of UNFPA Funds
Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) has threatened to introduce an amendment to the emergency appropriations bill that would give the president discretion over how much, if any, of the $34 million appropriated to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will be released during the 2002 fiscal year. According to the Washington Times, the Republican leadership in the House is demanding that language in an amendment, introduced by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and requiring the release of the funds by July 10, 2002, be changed or expunged entirely “and that failure to do so could hold up the entire $30 billion supplemental bill.” The House appropriations committee passed the Lowey/Kolbe amendment 32-31 with the support of only five Republicans, including Kolbe himself.
The UNFPA funds were appropriated earlier this year, but President Bush froze the funds after Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, accused UNFPA of supporting forced abortions in China. A fact-finding team has been sent to China to investigate the charges and is expected to issue a report in June. So far, however, none of the charges have been substantiated. The accusations originated with the Population Research Institute, an organization founded by the anti-abortion group Human Life International, which aligns itself with the Roman Catholic Church. UNFPA has denied that it funds any programs that perform forced procedures and does not use any US funds for its programs in China.
The loss of UNFPA funds has already caused the agency to make cut backs in programs and personnel, as US funding accounts for 13 percent of the UNFPA budget. According to UNFPA spokesperson Stirling Scruggs, the US hold “could mean 2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 induced abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, and 77,000 infant and child deaths.”
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. . . .