Women's Groups Demand Restoration of Critical Family Planning Funds
A massive effort organized by a broad-based coalition of women's rights and health organizations, environmentalists, HIV/AIDS organizations, and religious organizations joined together to call President Bush today to demand that he reinstate critical funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Bush Administration will be making its final decision whether to fund or not fund the UNFPA this Thursday.
Last week, several women’s health organizations called on the Bush Administration to re-fund foreign organizations that provide abortion services and counseling. The groups also demanded that the Administration provide the promised funds of $8 billion for family planning in developing countries that the United States promised during the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development that took place in Cairo, Egypt.
On Friday, during a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) offered an amendment for $25 million for the United Nations Population Fund that was defeated on a vote of 26 to 32. The Lowey-Kirk Amendment ensures that the United States support certain countries that have critical need for family planning services and that also have national security implications, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Bush officially withheld $34 million in funds for the UNFPA in 2002 based on unsubstantial claims by the right-wing group Population Research International (PRI) that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. Despite the fact that Bush’s own handpicked investigative team found no evidence to back PRI’s claim, Bush still would not release the funds to the UNFPA.
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. . . .