The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) last week unveiled a new humanitarian program to provide aid and assistance to pregnant Iraqi women. Anticipating the worsening of already rising maternal and infant mortality rates, the agency intends to distribute ambulances, ultrasound scanners, mobile obstetric care surgery units, medication, supplies, contraceptives, and other items "needed for safe motherhood," according to the UNFPA press release. UNFPA appealed to international donors for an additional $5 million to help sustain the program over the next six months.
Meanwhile, officials and aid groups continue to warn that war in Iraq is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. In the southern city of Basra, where the resident population exceeds one million, resistance by Iraqi troops have pushed British forces to declare “military targets” in the area, causing a blockage of humanitarian aid, reported the Associated Press.
Children comprise half of Iraq’s 24.5 million people. According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Iraq suffers from one of the highest child-mortality rates in the world, with one child in eight dying before the age of five, reported Salon. UN food programs feed 60 percent of the population. Joel Charny, vice president for policy at Refugees International, chastised the US government for prioritizing infrastructure post-war reconstruction over immediate food aid, telling Salon, “By all means, let’s think about having money to rebuild bridges and roads and electrical plants…but there’s a glaring contrast between preparations for private firms that do that kind of large-scale work and the lack of funding for the UN and NGOs to provide aid to Iraqis. The administration is getting ahead of itself. The survival of the Iraqi population is not yet restored.”
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. . . .