Women Gain Last Minute Victory At Global Earth Summit
As the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit) in Johannesburg, South Africa drew to a close yesterday, delegates agreed to add language to the final plan that guarantees access to comprehensive healthcare and reproductive services for women. The issue had become a road block during the last days of the international environmental meeting. While negotiations on the final plan were completed Monday, Canadian and European delegates were able to reopen the document Tuesday to add the 10 words, “and in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms,” to a paragraph that promotes the strengthening of women’s healthcare.
Canada originally proposed the inclusion of a specific statement of human rights tied to women’s healthcare in an effort to prevent such atrocities as female genital mutilation and to safeguard abortion rights. Without this language, countries would be permitted to hide behind traditional customs and laws to vindicate the denial of reproductive services and other healthcare to women – as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, where women were not allowed to go to the hospital, to be treated by male doctors or to work as doctors themselves. Although the wording matches other international declarations on the topic, the addition of the human rights language was opposed by a coalition that includes the United States, the Vatican and conservative Islamic countries.
The United Nations Population Fund, which recently had $34 million in funding blocked by the Bush administration, notes that 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions, and 585,000 perish during pregnancy and childbirth due to inadequate healthcare, the LA Times reported.
Executive Director of Women’s Environment and Development Organization June Zeitlin said that after hours of “intense negotiations,” summit delegates added the language in a slightly different place in the paragraph. “We won, we won,” Zeitlin exclaimed as reported in the LA Times. “Never underestimate the women of the world.”
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. . . .