Pacific Island countries are facing “critical” shortages of condoms, which could endanger the region's status as one of the places least affected by HIV/AIDS, the New Zealand Herald reports. "The US withdrawal of its contribution [to the UNFPA] has affected all our programs and is compromising the reproductive health of women and men throughout developing countries,” Catherine Shevlin Pierce, the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Pacific representative, told the Herald..
In October of 2002, Population Action International (PAI) issued a new report that shows that there is a shortage of condoms being donated from richer countries to poorer countries, with a current supply that is about one tenth of what’s needed. The report, entitled “Condoms Count: Meeting the Need in the Era of HIV/AIDS,” shows that at least 8 billion condoms are needed every year to protect people against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries and Eastern Europe. According to PAI, less than one billion condoms are distributed annually. The report also states that the US is falling behind on policy and funding for the global supply of condoms.
In a move that could cost the lives of tens of thousands of women and children around the globe, President Bush officially withheld $34 million in funds for the UNFPA. Bush’s decision was made based on unsubstantiated claims that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. USAID and UNFPA are the two largest sources of condoms for the developing world. Condoms are cheap, reliable, and prevent AIDS and pregnancies. The United Nations has estimated that for every $1 million that was not spent on condoms, there will be 360,000 unwanted pregnancies, 150,000 abortions, 25,000 deaths of children under the age of 5, and 800 maternal deaths, according to the New York Times.
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. . . .