The Senate on Thursday approved an omnibus spending bill that included $34 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The House approved this bill (HR 2673), including the UNFPA funding, in December. UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid thanked the US Congress, saying, "This critical funding will help save women's lives around the world, through the provision of voluntary family planning and reproductive health care." Obaid urged President Bush to allow these appropriated funds to be released so that the US "can rejoin all other industrialized countries in supporting UNFPA's work to promote voluntary family planning, safe motherhood, and HIV/AIDS prevention in the world's poorest countries."
The Bush Administration has refused to release UNFPA funding for the past two years based on false charges by the right-wing Population Research Institute that UNFPA supports coercive abortion in China. Bush cut funding to the UNFPA despite the fact that the Administration's own fact-finding team that found no evidence that the UN organization "has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China."
The Administration has not yet announced whether it will withhold the UNFPA funding again this year, according to the Inter Press Service. However, Bush has said he will sign the spending bill, the LA Times reports.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .