For the fourth year in a row, the Bush Administration has withheld delivering $34 million in Congressionally approved funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), based on false allegations that the UNFPA participates in coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization in China. This funding would have been used to prevent as many as 2 million unwanted pregnancies and 4,700 maternal deaths in developing countries. Moreover, the cutoff reduces urgently needed funds to treat women suffering from obstetric fistula or other illnesses from childbirth in the developing nations.
“This decision is disheartening because it contradicts clear evidence that UNFPA works hard to end coercion by proving the efficacy and superiority of the voluntary approach to family planning over any other alternative,” said Thoraya Obaid, UNFPA’s Executive Director.
When Bush first began withholding funds in 2002, activists Jane Roberts and Lois Abraham formed 34 Million Friends for UNFPA to try to replace some of the lost funds (now totaling $136 million). To date they have raised more than $2.7 million. For more information or to donate to the cause, visit www.34millionfriends.org.
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. . . .