Report: Investing in Women's Reproductive Health Has Huge Benefits
Leading health policy experts released a report stating that investing in women's reproductive and sexual health services results in huge medical benefits and could save more than a million lives every year. According to the report, written by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the gaps in sexual and reproductive health care that account for nearly one-fifth of illnesses and premature deaths in women of reproductive age around the world could be closed with cost-effective investments in sexual and reproductive health care.
Despite increasing needs, the report also states that in 2000, only $2.6 billion was provided for sexual and reproductive health services, which is less than half the amount pledged at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Providing the needed services could prevent fifty-two million unintended pregnancies and one and a half million maternal and infant deaths.
According to the report, there needs to be increased funding, especially in poor countries, in three key areas: prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; maternal health; and contraceptive supplies and services, reports AGI.
The report calls on countries to fulfill the pledges made at the ICPD. According to the President of AGI, Sharon Camp, they "hope [the report] will reach the Bush administration and also members of Congress who appropriate funds. We also hope it will reach European donor governments. Even though they are doing better than the United States in meeting their pledge, none of them are where they committed to be in 1994," reports Kaiser.
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. . . .