The House Committee on International Relations yesterday passed an amendment that would provide $100 million over the next two years for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The amendment to the FY 2004 foreign operations authorization bill (HR 1950) passed by a narrow margin of 23-22 in the Republican-dominated committee.
Co-sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), the funds provided by the amendment would more than cover the $34 million President Bush withheld from the UNFPA last year. Bush made the decision to withhold the funding from the UN organization based on allegations by the right-wing Population Research Institute that UNFPA programs in China support coercive family planning policies. These allegations were denied by the UNFPA as well as a State Department fact-finding team. The US contribution to the UNFPA makes up 13 percent of the total funding for its 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.
"This legislation has to do with not punishing women," Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle. "These are vital, life-saving funds." Meanwhile, the 34 Million Friends campaign, a grassroots movement to raise money for the UNFPA, announced its first million earlier this week.
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. . . .