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.”
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .