In a move that will cost the lives of tens of thousands of women and children around the globe, President Bush officially announced yesterday that he will withhold $34 million in funds for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Bush made this decision despite Secretary of State Colin Powell’s earlier endorsement of the UNFPA’s “invaluable work” and a report from the administration’s own fact-finding team that found no evidence that the UN organization “has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.”
Bush’s decision was made based on unsubstantiated claims that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. The result will be a cut in 13 percent of funding for the UNFPA’s international family planning programs – which would have enabled the UNFPA to prevent 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. “Bush’s decision is killing women and children in poor countries as sure as holding a gun to their head,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “There is an outrageous price for a political gift to the anti-abortion, anti-women’s rights of the right wing of the Catholic Church which has lost much of its moral credibility.”
The $34 million will instead be distributed to the US Agency for International Development that operates programs in 80 countries, as compared to the 142 countries that the UNFPA supports. “That agency cannot duplicate the work of the UN, which operates in dozens of countries where the United States has no aid presence,” reads an editorial in the New York Times. “Reproductive health and freedom of women are central to the improvement of poor societies. The UN Population Fund is one of the most important forces at work today helping poor women. The United States should be supporting it, not undermining it.”
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .