In hopes of righting President Bush’s wrong of cutting funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a citizen's initiative has been launched to replace the $34 million in funds meant to provide women’s and children’s health care services in 141 low-income countries. Lois Abraham of New Mexico and Jane Roberts of California have been circulating emails in the hopes of reaching "34 million friends" to urge them to contribute $1 or more. Checks have already started pouring into UNFPA’s office in New York – one person from Maine, who chose to remain anonymous, sent a check for $25,000 on Tuesday.
"This is an example of the commitment of the American people to be part of international efforts to improve the quality of life of families in developing countries, especially of women who are the immediate beneficiaries of UNFPA-supported [programs]," said Thoraya Obaid, UNFPA’s executive director, in a UNFPA press release. "We wholeheartedly welcome this support from the American public for the joint efforts of many countries to provide health services and prevent diseases."
The $34 million in funding that Bush withheld makes up 13 percent of the total funding for UNFPA’s international family planning programs – enabling 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 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." He instead based his decision on unsubstantiated claims from an anti-abortion extremist group that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China.
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. . . .