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.
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. . . .