In a narrow defeat for women across the world, the House voted 216 to 211 to block an amendment to this year's foreign aid bill that would have provided $100 million over two years in international family planning funds. Co-sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), the measure was an attempt to counteract Bush's decision to block $34 million in funds last year. Bush refused to follow Congressional approval to allocate these funds because of allegations by the right-wing Population Research Institute that UNFPA programs in China used coercive family planning policies - allegations that were later disproved by a State Department fact-finding team.
Crowley decided to help lead efforts to reinstate these funds after he spoke with a birthing assistant in Malawi, who asked for kerosene so she could see during her patients' labor and clean razor blades so that she could cut umbilical cords, according to the Washington Post. "That had a profound impact on me," Crowley told the Post. "It's not about abortion...It's more than about providing contraception. It's about child survival and maternal survival."
US contributions to the UNFPA make 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. The failure of the United States to fund the agency, which offers family planning services in more than 140 countries "means more unnecessary and unsafe abortions, increased cases of HIV/AIDS, more girls suffering from fistulas and female genital mutilation and more women dying in childbirth," said Phyllis Oakley, chair of the United States Committee for United States Population Fund, as reported by Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Reports.
To replace government funds, the 34 Million Friends campaign is a grassroots movement that has sprung up in the US to raise money for the UNFPA. It announced its first million in May.
2/27/2015 This Bipartisan Bill Will Hold Colleges Accountable for Ending Campus Sexual Assault - A bipartisan bill aimed at holding colleges and universities accountable for rape and sexual assault cases was introduced in Congress yesterday, spearheaded by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Some of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act's key key provisions include a requirement of confidential reporting systems on colleges and universities, minimum training requirements for campus personnel, and stricter penalties for schools found to be in violation of Title IX or the Clery Act. . . .
2/26/2015 If This Bill Passes Federal Law Will Add Consent to Sex Ed Curriculums - Right now, federal law does not require health or sex education to include sexual assault prevention - but that could change with a new bill introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
The Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, which was introduced earlier this month, would require all public secondary schools in the country to include teaching "safe relationship behavior" in order to help prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. . . .