US Withdrawal of UNFPA Funding Constrains Programs in Uzbekistan
A United Nations Population Fund official expressed her disappointment regarding the Bush Administration's withdrawal of another $34 million for the UNFPA last week. Eriko Hibi, the UNFPA’s deputy director in Uzbekistan, asserted that the blockage of funds will have a negative impact on reproductive health activities in Central Asia and will constrain their program activities in the region, reports IRIN News.
According to IRIN News, Hibi stated that an additional $200,000 that the US originally slated for Uzbekistan would have expanded essential reproductive health and family planning services such as the procuring of contraceptives, provided training to make pregnancies safer, and improved the equipment in the hospital.
Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to Congress last week stating that the United States will not fund the UNFPA for 2004. This is the third year that the Bush Administration has blocked funding to the UNFPA based on unsubstantiated claims by the right-wing group in 2002 by the Population Research International (PRI) that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. Even though President Bush sent his own handpicked investigative team that found no evidence to back PRI's claim, he has continued to block desperately needed funding for the UNFPA.
The yearly US contribution to the UNFPA makes 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 each year.
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. . . .