In anticipation of World Population Day this Friday, Congressman Joseph Crowley and Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs will join policy experts this afternoon at an audio press conference to discuss restoring monies to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Despite President Bush’s persistent efforts to sabotage critical funding for international family planning programs, the US House Committee on International Relations in May passed an amendment to the FY 2004 foreign operations authorization bill (HR 1950) that would provide $100 million over the next two years for the .
Co-sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), the amendment is clear retaliation against Bush's decision last year to withhold $34 million from the UNFPA based on allegations by the right-wing Population Research Institute that agency programs in China used coercive family planning policies. In fact, the Crowley amendment revises the ambiguous Kemp-Kasten amendment used by Bush to justify his action, by stipulating that funding be denied to any organization that "directly supports or participates in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization." Last month, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Crowley, and several other key lawmakers joined Jane Roberts and Lois Abraham, founders of the 34 Million Friends in calling for majority support when the measure goes for a vote in the full House.
The theme of World Population Day this year centers on adolescent reproductive health. "All young people have a right to health, including reproductive health, and the information and services to make this right a reality. This is especially urgent in the fight against HIV/AIDS. UNFPA supports national efforts to ensure that young people can make informed, responsible decisions and lead healthy, productive lives," stated UNFPA executive director Thoraya Obaid, according to the agency website.
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. . . .