Appropriations Committees Working to Restore UNFPA Funding Withheld by Bush
After the Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), approved the Foreign Operations Appropriations (FY2003) bill including $50 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in July, the House Appropriations Committee last week followed suit, earmarking $25 million for UNFPA. The Senate action came shortly after the Bush administration cut $34 million appropriated by Congress for the UNFPA. Bush made this decision despite a report from the administration’s own fact-finding team that found no evidence that the UN organization “knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.”
Introduced by Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), the House bill (HR 5410) allocates $25 million for UNFPA while stipulating that no assistance be given to China’s State Family Planning Commission (SFPC)—the agency accused by the anti-abortion Population Research Institute of coercive practices.
The Senate version (S 2779) earmarks $50 million for UNFPA and similarly prohibits funding to any organizations directly participating in coercive family planning strategies.
The House and Senate bills have been placed on the Union and Legislative Calendars, respectively.
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. . . .