The number of women and adolescents worldwide lacking access to information about family planning and reproductive health services is probably in the hundreds of millions – much higher than official United Nations estimates. According to 1997 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates, this number is around 150 million women. Population Action International reports this number is more than 350 million women. In the year 2000, nearly 3.5 million deaths in the world stemmed from poor or nonexistent reproductive health services (UNFPA). In addition, the Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that of 210 million pregnancies each year, at least 62-80 million are unintended and 46 million result in abortion. Out of 514,000 childbirth or pregnancy-related deaths each year, some 80,000 result from complications of unsafe, mostly illegal abortion (PAI, "A World of Difference" 2001). Some experts place the number of deaths due to botched illegal abortions much higher, at 200,000 per year.
Much of the data collected on family planning and reproductive health services in poor countries applies to married women and ignores adolescents and unmarried women. Many poor countries have inadequate health information reporting systems. Where abortion is illegal, the level of injury and death from unsafe abortion is often grossly underreported. At the 1994 United Nations Conference on Population and Development, 179 countries agreed that $17 billion per year would be required to provide universal comprehensive reproductive health care services for women around the world, including family planning. By the year 2015, $22 billion per year would be required. Up to 2/3 of this money was expected to come from developing countries.
While developing countries are providing most of their share of needed resources, support from international donors is less than half of the $5.7 billion called for in 2000. In addition, the 1994 estimates only included modest resources needed for HIV/AIDS prevention, leaving a significant gap in funding for the treatment of people living with AIDS because of the rapidly advancing epidemic in developing countries (UNFPA, "State of the World Population" 2000).
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. . . .