Funding, Accords, Politics, Legislation
December 12, 2013
Funding, Politics Index
Americans spend, per capita, $1.44 a year each - less than a tube of toothpaste on international population assistance. October 2010, National Audubon Society
More money is spent on cosmetic sales in the United States than is needed to provide prenatal and reproductive care for all the world's women. Dr. Arsenio Rodriguez speaking at Elon College March 8, 2001, News & Record (Greensboro, NC)
From the 1960s through the mid-1980s, U.S. funding, scientific expertise, and political leadership helped establish family-planning programs across the globe. Stabilizing population growth was deemed important to promote sustainable development, improve trade, mitigate illegal immigration, and ease potential conflicts.
But after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994, a small group of antiabortion House members succeeded in slashing U.S. overseas family-planning funds by about one third to the current $385 million a year. U.N. Population Fund Executive Director Nafis Sadik believes the United States will resume its leadership role when congressional opponents come to realize that family planning will reduce the abortions they abhor.October 11, 1999, US News and World Reports
ICPD (Cairo Convention)
United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) September 1994, Cairo, Egypt1999, UNFPA
Delegates from 179 nations and thousands of non-governmental organizations met and came to a consensus on an historic shift in policies to address rapid population growth. The agreed-upon Programme of Action was a departure from setting demographic targets, adopting instead a 20-year plan focused on
1. Empowering women and girls in the economic, political, and social arenas 2. Removing gender disparities in education 3. Integrating family planning with related efforts to improve maternal and child health 4. Increasing efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases 5. Increasing financial and human resources commitments 6. Strengthening cooperation between the public and private sectors in implementing these goals.
The Cairo conference put an end to the concept of "population control." Smaller families and slower population growth depend not on "control" but on free choice - the idea, borne out by 30 years of experience, that most women, given the choice, will have fewer children than their mothers did. UNPFA 1999
UNFPA Does Not Support Abortion Services Or Information AnywhereAugust 1999
To put the record straight regarding the United Nations Population Fund and abortion, UNFPA does not support abortion services or information anywhere, nor do we provide equipment for performing abortions. The reproductive health and safe motherhood kits provided in Kosovo contain only standard equipment, including vacuum aspirators, which are used to help in delivery.
Women do not want to have abortions; they want not to be pregnant. Every rational observer agrees that helping women avoid unwanted pregnancy is the most effective way to fight abortion. That is what UNFPA does. The human right to choose the size and spacing of the family has been recognized internationally since 1968. Persistent misrepresentation of our work by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and his supporters only puts back the day when all women can exercise this right.
Family planning policies are established around the world, and the use of family planning is on the rise. Population and gender issues are becoming institutionalized, and women are getting more involved. However obstacles impede development efforts. The 20-year Cairo programme represented a new vision about population and development. Responses from 169 countries report the steps they have taken to implement the measures related to population, gender equality, reproductive rights and health. It also presents actions still needed to achieve the goals. A significant progress has been achieved and the challenge during the next 10 years is to build on this progress. Countries have a sense of awareness and are defining and focusing on national priorities. Global consensus is critical to halving extreme poverty by 2015. More than 90% of countries have integrated family planning and safe motherhood into their health care and integrated reproductive health education into school curricula. Many have established AIDS programmes to deal with the pandemic; and also migration and population ageing programmes. The most notable obstacles are the inadequate financial resources by donor countries.
Latin America and Caribbean to Adopt Text on Population and DevelopmentJuly 02, 2004, UN News Centre
At a San Juan, Puerto Rico meeting, the US is set to join in the declaration by Latin American and Caribbean countries reaffirming support for the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. The Programme is on reproductive health and rights to eradicate poverty, reduce social inequalities and eliminate the gender gap. The reaffirmation document was adopted last March in Santiago, Chile. At that forum, the U.S. had expressed the lone dissent, dissociating itself from the Santiago Declaration. Washington decided to join the consensus after participants agreed to note the report of the preliminary meeting.
Angola: Families Living Standards Improved - UNPF DirectorJuly 12, 2004, Angola Press Agency
In Luanda the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) has scored progress towards improving the families living standards, with school enrollment and life expectancy on the rise. The number of women and couples choosing their reproduction spacing is rising, with many taking measures to fight HIV. Women and adolescents are advised on the sexually transmitted diseases prevention and take measures to protect themselves against violence and bad treatment.
Malaysia: Poor Nations Urged to Cast Away Outdated Religious Tenets to Improve Women's LotMay 09, 2005, Associated Press
At the opening of a two-day ministerial meeting of Nonaligned Movement members on the advancement of women, Malaysia's prime minister said that developing countries, especially Muslim nations, must challenge outdated customs and religious teachings that keep their women poor and powerless. Groups opposed to the empowerment of women have often used religion and cultural norms to perpetuate discrimination. It takes courage and fortitude to challenge long held and deeply ingrained beliefs about the role of women in society, particularly if religion is the main reason for their subjugation. Women in some parts of the world have become more emancipated, but continue to be marginalized and discriminated against in many Muslim countries. Women still suffer from a lack of education, resources, and job insecurity. The situation is worse in countries torn by war and armed conflicts and are raped, tortured, maimed and subjected to unspeakable crimes. Ministers were expected at the meeting to issue a declaration pledging to protect women from war and diseases and provide them with more political and economic power. A draft proposes wide-ranging measures as well as affirmative action policies to eliminate gender discrimination. The countries are expected to express their grave concern over the suffering of Palestinian and Syrian women under Israeli occupation, according to the draft. The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of poor nations that tried to stay neutral during the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War, the movement has continued to work to reverse the marginalization of Third World countries in world affairs.
The availability, use, and funding of family planning worldwide has seen a revolution in the last 50 years, dramatically reducing fertility levels and slowing population growth in developing countries. But contraceptive use is still low and need for it high in some of the world's poorest and most populous places.
In the 1970s and 1980s family planning was in the spotlight, but recently not so much recently as as issues such as HIV/AIDS and poverty alleviation. Perhaps its success has led to its recent loss of visibility.
Recently key informants - developing-country program managers, senior staff members of nongovernmental and donor organizations, and prominent researchers - were surveyed in a study supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute of Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins University. One key informant in the study said: "When you hesitate to say the words 'family planning,' something is happening. When you say 'reproductive health' and have to be careful, something is happening."
There is a declining sense of urgency about population growth and its consequences; competing health and development priorities; rising political conservatism (especially in the United States); and a lack of international and local leadership. Poverty reduction was cited as the primary focus of current development efforts.
The agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) meeting in Cairo in 1994 emphasized the welfare of individual women, the achievement of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender equity. This redefinition of the social problem of population growth in terms of reproductive health, particularly for women, has caused popular consciousness about the problem to ebb, since reproductive health does not carry the same political vitality as a developmental disaster or disease epidemic.
"When reproductive health becomes too big, family planning gets lost. The trouble is that it's no longer a focused program. It's difficult for donors to see, to manage and implement." In 1995, family planning received 55% of total worldwide population-assistance expenditures, while basic research and reproductive health received 18% each and HIV/STIs received 9%. In 2003, HIV/STIs received 47% of total worldwide population-assistance expenditures, while reproductive health received 25%, basic research 15%, and family planning 13%. Compared to the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, preventing unintended pregnancies is now perceived internationally as much less compelling and less urgent.
While there was general agreement that collaboration between family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs was appropriate, there seemed to be distinct lack of collaboration between the fields. Young people who used to be attracted to the family planning field when it was seen as a critical social need are reportedly going into fields that are perceived to be more urgent today, such as HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood, and poverty alleviation, while some older, experienced leaders who formerly worked in family planning have moved on. That and lack of funding for advanced training means that leadership in family planning is aging or lacking.
Strong opposition from abortion opponents is also a disincentive to work in the family planning field. Some respondents felt that the international family planning movement was in it's demise, but others felt that the movement would continue with the locus of action shifiting to the developing world in those countries that have major contraceptive needs, a rapidly growing population, and a policy commitment to slowing growth. Others felt that women's motivation to control fertility is so strong (and the social norm of family planning so well established) that contraceptive use will continue to rise no matter what happens to family planning programs.
Some felt the message of family planning could be recast (1) addressing an unfinished agenda of unmet contraceptive need, unwanted fertility, stalled fertility decline, and shortages of contraceptive supplies; (2) highlighting family planning's benefits for reducing abortion and improving women's status and health; and (3) demonstrating family planning's relevance in reducing social inequity. Many saw the risks of increased poverty, poor health, and higher mortality as a result of high fertility and population growth rates.
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The United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA)
Last week the 46th session of the Commission on Population and Development concluded at U.N. headquarters. 45 member nations participated. The five-day session was described as fraught with tension and disagreement because most of the states were "concerned about the economic implications of migration, looking at the effects of remittances," said Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman, chief executive of leading Pakistani NGO Awaz Foundation. He said the connection between health and migration was frequently overlooked. "Many member states are less interested in highlighting issues related to particularly HIV/AIDS and overall sexual and reproductive health rights and gender identity issues and how these can particularly affect migrants," he continued.
The global remittance flows of migration were an estimated $534 billion in 2012, although the U.N. estimates that twice this amount could have been transferred informally.
In October a high-level dialogue on migration and development will be held that will help lay the foundation for how migration will be incorporated into the post-2015 agenda.
The number of internagional migrants reached 214 million in 2010, up from 155 million in 1990, according to U.N. figures.
About half of today's international migrants are women, an extremely vulnerable group, unlikely to receive access to the social and health protections that they need from gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths and human misery.
Over 200 million women, mostly in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can't access them, facing cultural barriers or family resistance, or not having access to contraceptives, or there is a lack of information or trained workers to give advice.
In London in July a family planning summit is being co-hosted by the UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where an initiative will be planned to tackle the estimated $3.6bn (£2.3bn) annual shortfall in investment. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.
The summit's aim is to mobilise the political will and extra resources needed to give 120 million more women access to family planning by 2020. This ambitious target is one that is desperately needed. Hundreds of thousands of women continue to die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Without new urgency and impetus, many developing countries will not only fail to meet the MDG target to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 but for decades to come. This would be a betrayal of the most vulnerable people and communities on our planet and an affront to our sense of justice.
For every mother who dies, 20 more suffer from chronic ill health and disability. Uncontrolled pregnancy has a much wider impact on the life chances of women and their children - and the health and strength of their communities.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to defund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with the vote 23 Republicans to 17 Democrats.
The Huffington Post said, "If the U.S were to give $50 million to the UNFPA in 2012" it "could prevent 7,000 maternal and newborn deaths, provide surgeries to 10,000 women afflicted by an obstetric fistula, and offer contraception to about 1 million couples who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it."
Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) stated, "Tragically, the bill takes aim at poor women and children in the developing world - women and children who all too often suffer from the effects of disease, war, rape, and a host of absolutely horrid conditions that few of us can even begin to imagine. Rather than helping these desperate people - as UNFPA seeks to do - the legislation makes them pawns in a debate over social issues that often seems divorced from reality."
House Republicans claim that their desire to defund the UNFPA stems from the organization's support of China's one-child policy, which requires women obtain abortions and sterilization. However, Sarah Craven, chief of the Washington branch of the UNFPA, denied these claims, stating, "Not a dime of U.S, money goes to China, and not one dime goes to abortion." An investigation conducted by the State Department, which found "no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization," supports Craven's assertion.
Thoraya Obaid, a proud Muslim and Saudi Arabian citizen, just completed ten years as Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In her reflections, she said:
"My father was a devout Muslim who took very seriously the first principle in the Quran which is about learning. He insisted that his daughters get a good education and he never interfered with my life choices.
"It was clear from the day I started at UNFPA that it was the most controversial of the UN agencies. The attacks were strongest during the Bush 43 administration years, but we have been attacked all the time, including by feminist groups that fear that UNFPA has 'sold out'".
The attacks come only from the United States. Recent Republican administrations have withdrawn United States funding from UNFPA, citing the "Kemp Kasten Amendment" which was enacted to ensure that no US money goes to any organizations that participates in the management of coercive population policies.
"The issue is that UNFPA works in China, and China is considered by some in Congress and the US administration (when there is a Republican President), to be subject to the Kemp Kasten Amendment. UNFPA's work in China has been reviewed many times, and always with the conclusion that UNFPA has a positive influence on China's policies. The Bush administration sent a team to China that reached the same conclusion, but that made no difference. Throughout President Bush's tenure, Congress appropriated funds for UNFPA but Bush would not release them. It all was the result of the influence of the religious right.
"Democratic Presidents (Clinton and Obama) release the funding, after deducting the small amounts that would be spent on UNFPA's China program; we are asked to put the funds in a separate account and be held accountable for it."
Thoraya Obaid met several times with the Holy See's representative to the United Nations. They agreed to disagree. It was significant that they opened a channel that would allow them to communicate if times got tough. On the ground, in many parts of the world, we work all the time with the Catholic Church on common agendas such as ending violence against women.
"We are working to build relationships and partnerships with a wide range of groups, including but also going beyond the traditional feminist/reproductive health groups. It is important to broaden the base of understanding and support and find ways to support each other. Some groups still have doubts about UNFPA's commitment and approach and some are uneasy specifically about our effort to work with faith groups, fearing that it signals an erosion in our commitment to human rights. It absolutely does not. Today, over 400 faith based groups form the Global Network of Faith-based Organizations for Population and Development.
"By dealing with cultural values and religious beliefs, we aim to promote human rights, never to accept the status quo or harmful practices but rather to expand the reach of the human rights agenda."
"There are some things that we, UNFPA, cannot address and discuss, while some things women's groups can address less effectively.
"Abortion is the most controversial topic. We, UNFPA, are mandated to consider abortion within the context of public health, but never as a right, as some NGOs do. That is a clear parameter from the ICPD Programme of Action, the famous and much contested clause 8.25 which set out the position towards abortion. It states that abortion should never be a form of family planning and that when family planning services are available and accessible that lowers abortions. Abortion is a national issue to be decided by national laws and legislations. Where it is legal, it should be done under good medical conditions. Some women's groups approach the issue differently, viewing abortion in the context of a woman's right to choose. So, though we have many common interests, we deal with them differently.
"Thus there are areas where we can work together with a wide range of religious leaders and women's groups - violence against women, child marriage, and female genital cutting are among them. On the more controversial issues, we need to give some more space and time and show mutual respect for our differences.
UN Official Urges More Investment, Efforts on Issues of Population Amid Financial CrisisMarch 30, 2009, Xinhua General News Service
A senior UN official urged countries to increase social investment and redouble efforts for an international population agenda. The financial crisis threatens to push 200 million people back into poverty. The financial crisis is threatening to wipe out progress in improving health and reducing poverty.
Countries must put people first and the long- term well-being of the majority over the short-term interests of a few.
Increase social investment and redouble efforts for the ICPD agenda by investing in women, youth and migrants.
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US Foreign Funding for Family Planning, USAID
What Will $1 Billion Buy?November 13 , 2013 By: Bonnie Tillery, Population Issues Coordinator. New Jersey Sierra Club
What will $1 billion buy? This is the question the Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program and other health, environmental and population organizations are asking. The United Nations Population Fund informs us that 222 million women in the developing world would like to voluntarily plan their families, spacing births so that both mother and child are healthy, and so that families are able to educate their children. This also puts fewer demands on scarce resources.
They go on to explain that "2 billion people live in countries without adequate water...and by 2025 the number will grow to 3.1 billion. There are 925 million chronically malnourished people in the world...A 40% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world could be completely negated by population growth in the developing world. Empowering women with the tools and resources to time their pregnancies would provide 8-15% of the reductions needed to avert (more drastic) climate change."
Why should the U.S. contribute $1 billion for international family planning? According to Population Action International's web site, we have supported family planning and reproductive health care programs since 1965. "Polls have consistently shown that 75 to 90 percent of Americans support international family planning programs, including 69 percent of Independents and Republicans...While the demand has consistently increased, the U.S. funding level for family planning in 2010 (was) nearly 25 percent less than...in 1995 (when adjusted for inflation)."
How is that $1 billion U.S. contribution figured? Brian Dixon from Population Connection explained, "it's derived by taking the total overall donor funding necessary to meet the existing unmet need (for family planning and reproductive health care) and then apportioning that by the GDP of the donor countries."
One-billion dollars sounds like an awful lot of money. But consider this, in 2012, here in the U.S. we spent $8 billion on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations. This year it was down to $6.9 billion, or $75.03 per person.(1) By comparison, $1 billion averages to about $3 per person per year, or one-cent per day.(2) For Valentine's Day 2013, CNN.com reported we spent $18.6 billion, or $130.97 per person on flowers, candy, etc. That makes the $1 billion request for international family planning seem like so little to make such a big difference.
Shouldn't we be focusing on needs here at home? Yes, but Dixon goes on to note “total foreign assistance funding is less than one percent of the federal budget and family planning is a very small part of that."
Focusing on need here at home, the Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance companies provide all forms of female contraception without a co-pay as part of preventive-care. This should bring down the incidence of unplanned pregnancy dramatically as was shown in a 2007 study at Washington University in St. Louis. There researchers “provided 10,000 St. Louis women with free contraception, with the goal of decreasing unintended pregnancy...Few women ended up choosing the pill. Most went with a long-acting contraceptive method, like an IUD or an implant and the results were striking. Women who opted for a shorter-term contraceptive like the pill were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy."(3) Currently about one-half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned - the largest number in the developed world. By eliminating dependence on the birth control pill, which is not as effective as other long-term contraceptives, the incidence of unplanned pregnancies should be greatly reduced.
Can the U.S. afford to spend $1 billion on international family planning and reproductive health services? The author, Alan Weisman, in his latest book, Countdown, notes that we can't afford not to spend this money. “I don't want to cull anyone alive today. I wish every human now on the planet a long, healthy life. But either we take control ourselves, and humanely bring our numbers down by recruiting fewer new members of the human race to take our places, or nature is going to hand out a pile of pink slips. When you see survival of the fittest portrayed on the National Geographic Channel, it's entertaining. When it happens to your own species, it's not pretty."(4)
Talk with your family, friends, and representatives in Washington, DC about voluntary family planning and the need for $1 billion for international family planning assistance. When we can afford to spend $10 billion a year on romance novels (5), we can certainly afford $1 billion for women to voluntarily decide their family size.
(1) National Retail Federation web site 9/23/2013.
The Budget Myth That Just Won't Die: Americans Still Think 28 Percent of the Budget Goes to Foreign AidNovember 07, 2013, Washington Post By: Ezra Klein
Follow the link in the headline for graphic information.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, sixty nine percent of Americans believe the U.S. spends between 6% and 51% of its budget on foreign aid (average guesstimate 28%), and 61% believe that the amount they think we give is too much. However, if you show the actual figures (i.e., The U.S. spends less than 1% on foreign aid) and ask if that amount is too much, only 30% say yes. "Foreign aid is the only program that (people) consistently favor cutting," said Bruce Bartlett, and he credits most of foreign aid's unpopularity to the public "grossly overestimating its share of the budget." He can show multiple polls that show the public's wildly incorrect opinions about how much our government spends on helping other countries. If our government actually did spent what people think it spends on foreign aid, the cost would exceed that of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or all defense spending.
Ezra Klein's brief article on the Washington Post's WONKBLOG drew numerous blog responses, some of which complained about how nations become eligible for aid and how that aid is spent. That breakdown too might come as a surprise to many people.
The February 8, 2013 U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants (Greenbook), "Program and Account Reports" breaks down U.S. aid expenditures like this: Our total aid budget is $49.5 billion, with $17.8 billion going to military assistance and $31.7 billion going to economic assistance ($14.1 billion of which is distributed by USAID). The largest military aid recipients are Afghanistan with $10,265,400, Israel with $2,995,100, and Egypt with $1,298,700. Iraq, Pakistan, Haiti, Kenya and Jordan receive the largest Economic Assistance grants.
U.S.-based contractors received 59% of USAID's $14.5 billion in foreign assistance spending in the FY 2012, and 26% went to other institutions, including universities and vocational schools. With military aid exact numbers are harder to find, but much of the aid money goes to U.S. defense contractors to pay for weapons systems, which are then sent to places like Egypt and Israel. This raises the question whether Congressmen favor the aid more to support contracts in their district or as a way of supporting military allies -- or, in the case of Egypt and Israel, as a reward for signing the Oslo Peace accords, which triggered the U.S. to grant generous amounts of aid to both nations.
U.S. citizens give larger sums privately than their government gives to international aid. Also, people working in the U.S often send sizable checks to assist their families living in poorer nations. And, finally, not all foreign aid gets budgeted as foreign aid. As I write this, U.S. military vessels are moving as quickly as they can towards the Philippine Islands to do what they can to assist the victims of typhoon Haiyan.
There are solid conservative arguments for supporting family planningOctober 09, 2013, US News & World Report By: John Seager, President of Population Connection
In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed legislation that created the Title X family planning program and noted that, "this landmark legislation on family planning and population has had strong bipartisan support."
On the other hand House Republicans recently tried to strip birth control coverage from the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare." They argue that contraception has caused the downfall of the culture by allowing people to have sex without having children. It violates their religious rights. It's led women to be promiscuous and men to be gay. It's even contributing to the terrible dearth of babies some writers see lurking just around the corner, even though we are expected to grow to 9.6 by 2050.
Contraception has helped give women new opportunities and traditionalists heartburn. However:
Family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments the United States can make in developing countries. If we are able to meet the Millennium Development Goals, - including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger - there will be less need for foreign aid spending.
Thailand and the Philippines had two similar economies in the 1970s. But Thailand began a national program to provide its citizens with voluntary access to contraception, while the Philippines passed a law to finally do that late last year, now on hold by the nation's very conservative Supreme Court. By 2010, Thailand had 68.1 million citizens, while the Philippines had 93.6 million.
In 2008, Thailand's GDP was $273 billion, while the Philippines' was $167 billion. Per capita, Thailand's GDP was $4,043, while Filipinos settled for $1,847.
Birth Control Stabilizes Nations. Very young populations - characteristic of nations with high birthrates - can be very unstable because the competition for jobs among young people is fierce, and unemployment is epidemic. When you're hungry and desperate, turning to crime - or even terrorism - might feel like your only option.
Birth Control Reduces Human Suffering. By allowing women to time and space their pregnancies, family planning could prevent up to one in three maternal deaths in the developing world. And spacing pregnancies adequately also reduces infant mortality and improves the health of children. And access to family planning also prevents abortions. More than half of all abortions in the developing world are unsafe, which killed around 47,000 women in 2008.
An estimated 222 million women around the world who want to delay or end childbearing don't have access to contraception. This number will grow as today's young people. We're spending 30 percent less in inflation-adjusted dollars on international family planning now than we did in 1995. When a single investment can save money, boost economies, stabilize nations and reduce human suffering, thoughtful people of all political persuasions should give it a second look.
On July 19, the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved a slight funding increase for global health programs. But it capped appropriations for international family planning and reproductive health programs at $461 million, 22% below current levels and $174 million below the President's request. The cutback was approved as part of a larger appropriation measure funding the U.S. State Department and U.S. foreign assistance programs, which the Subcommittee cut 19% below current levels. The House bill also prohibited any U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The Subcommittee's action is the first step in the annual appropriations process for the 2014 fiscal year. The final appropriation bill must be approved by both houses. The committee-approved Senate bill calls for total bilateral and multilateral funding of $669.5 million, including $39.5 million for a U.S. contribution to UNFPA. The proposed Senate funding level is $209 million—or 31% higher—than the comparable amount in the House bill and nearly 15% above current levels.
The Senate also adapted by 19 to 11 an amendment by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, which the President had earlier issued a statement reversing. This Reagan-era rule forbade U.S. government support for any organization that in any way fostered, provided or even advised women about abortion. All Democrats and three Republicans on the committee supported Shaheen's amendment.
Dear Chairwoman Granger and Ranking Member Lowey:
We write to urge your support for international family planning and reproductive health programs in the FY 2014 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill. We respectfully request that international family planning and reproductive health programs be funded at least at the President's Budget request of $635.4 million, including $37 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
We believe this would be an important step toward investing $1 billion annually in family planning and reproductive health in developing countries. This level of funding would meet the U.S. share of the global need for these critical programs, which are cost-effective, save lives and support broader diplomatic, development and national security priorities. In addition, any increased investments in international family planning and reproductive health will help rectify the disproportionate cuts this program has faced in the last several years in addition to the impact of sequestration. Based on an analysis of the powerful impact of U.S. investment in family planning and reproductive health overseas by the Guttmacher Institute, the effects of the sequester could mean:
* 1.6 million women denied access to contraceptive services and supplies
* 460,000 additional unintended pregnancies
* 215,000 additional unplanned births
* 215,000 additional abortions (of which 153,000 are unsafe)
* 1,225 maternal deaths
* 6,140 more children will lose their mothers
Our nation's investment in international family planning has had a significant sustained impact. U.S. assistance in FY 2012 helped prevent 9.4 million unintended pregnancies, 4 million abortions, 96,000 children from losing their mothers and 22,000 women from dying. These investments are also highly cost-effective. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has found that in Zambia, for example, one dollar invested in family planning saves four dollars in other development areas.
Despite this investment, every year 291,000 women die from largely preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Today, at least 222 million women in the developing world would like to prevent or delay pregnancy but lack access to safe, effective contraception; this demand is projected to increase by 40% over the next 15 years. For the health of women around the world, we firmly support international family planning programs and urge you to provide this level of funding in the FY 2014 Appropriations Bill.
Anna has five children, and wants to plan her family, but her mother-in-law, said she didn't have enough children.
Victoria Marijani, the Program Manager for Reproductive Health Services at PSI Tanzania said "There are lots of Annas who have barriers and cannot access services."
Population Action International was represented by President Suzanne Ehlers at a Senate briefing which included Marijani as well as Ellen Starbird, the new Director of Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID; and Harvard economist David Canning, who co-authored the Lancet article "The Economic Consequences of Reproductive Health and Family Planning." The focus was providing women everywhere with the family planning services they want, and the potential impact that can have.
“Development is a best buy," Ehlers said. “Let's not forget it, and let's…get that message in front of those who, for whatever reason, haven't heard it for the past 30 years. Emphasis on family planning, and women's sexual and reproductive health, is completely a multiplier investment for nations."
Stop the Sequester. It's a Terrible Way to Govern and it Will Do Real Harm to People - Especially Women - at Home and Around the World.March 12, 2013, Population Connection
Our aid to international family planning programs is facing devastating cuts due to the sequester. A 5.3% cut to our international family planning programs would mean:
*1.68 million women denied access to contraceptive services & supplies,
*485,000 additional unintended pregnancies,
*226,000 additional abortions (of which 162,000 will be unsafe),
*1,292 maternal deaths, and
*6,460 children losing their mothers.
Instead of this kind of mindless slashing of funds, we need to increase our investment in family planning programs overseas. It will bring huge returns in terms of improved global health, expanded economic empowerment of women, increased educational opportunities for girls, protection of resources and greater political stability.
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Legislative Updates, Alerts
U.S.: Legislative Alert : Proposed Foreign Assistance Cut Imperils International Family PlanningMay 24, 2010, The Population Institute
The President's proposed foreign aid budget request of $58.8 billion for the State Department and foreign assistance, has met with opposition in Congress, and the President's proposed increase in international family planning assistance may also be in danger.
The Senate Budget Committee, on April 22, adopted a budget resolution for fiscal year 2011 that trims the President's budget request by 7%. If upheld by the House and Senate, it could translate into a comparable size reduction in the $715.7 million proposed by the President for international family planning assistance, which is contained in the international affairs budget.
Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Christopher Bond (R-MO), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are trying to build support in the Senate for fully funding the President's budget for international affairs, and asking their fellow Senators to join them in signing a letter to Appropriations Committee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS), urging them fully fund the President's $58.8 billion request in the all-important 302(b) appropriation allocations.
28 Senators have signed onto the bipartisan Kerry-Lugar-Durbin-Bond-Feinstein letter in support of fully funding the FY2011 International Affairs Budget - very encouraging, but several more co-signers are needed before the letter closes on Wednesday.
You can help by calling the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 if one or both of your Senators appears in this list: Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Roland Burris (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Al Franken (D-MN), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Herbert Kohl (D-WI), George LeMieux (R-FL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), George Voinovich (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA)
You could say something like: "I'm a constituent, and I am calling to ask Senator ________ to sign the Kerry -Lugar-Durbin-Bond-Feinstein letter on foreign assistance. It's important that we provide full funding for international family planning assistance."
Budget Cuts for International Family Planning Programs, Millennium Challenge Account, HIV/AIDS ThreatenedMay 2003, National Audubon Society population news list
Immediate Action is needed in support of Lugar Amendment to the Budget resolution for FY2004. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Richard Lugar (R-IN) has filed an amendment (S. Amdt. 280) yesterday to restore $1.1 billion proposal to be stripped from the Administration's request for the
The House International Relations Committee has endorsed HIV/AIDS legislation which exceeds that which President Bush asked for in his State of the Union message. It authorizes $15 billion for overseas HIV/AIDS, $3 billion a year for five years, and earmarks a greater percentage for the global AIDS fund. Most of the HIV/AIDS money will go to countries in sub-Saharan Africa where condoms are an important part of slowing HIV. The Bush White House has greenlighted inclusion of condoms in the bill.
Write or Lobby Your Lawmaker
Writing a letter to your lawmaker, letters to the editor, or even better, lobbying, are two of the more effective ways to influence policy makers in matters of funding for foreign family planning clinics, contraceptives with health insurance, and other important population and sustainability solutions.
There are 6.7 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year About half of these are unintended. Births resulting from unintended pregnancies have been linked to adverse maternal and child health outcomes and myriad social and economic challenges, including costs to the federal and state governments of $11 billion (2006).
The Guttmacher Institute has launched a new tool that gives the incidence and outcomes of unintended pregnancy in each state, including the proportion of all pregnancies that are unintended; the rates of unintended pregnancy; the proportions of unintended pregnancies that result in births and abortions; and the proportion of all births resulting from unintended pregnancy;
Also given is the public cost of unintended pregnancy in each state, and the impact in each state of publicly funded family planning services.
Adam Sonfield, senior public policy associate at Guttmacher, said of the fact sheets: "They are a comprehensive resource that documents the significant state-level benefits of investing in publicly funded family planning services, both in helping women avert unintended pregnancies, births and abortions, and generating considerable savings to the federal and state governments."
Is your lawmaker -
Calling Your Lawmaker is Also Very Effective.
If you contact your lawmaker via email, make sure you include your full name and mailing address so that they can verify that you are a constituent.
You may research the matter from the links above and from WOA's Funding Page, and then come up with a letter that you can send your legislator or notes from which you can talk when you go see your representative at her/his Washington DC office or at their local office.
A personal letter sent by mail is usually the most effective way to impact your lawmakers.
Address your letter as follows:
Writing a letter to your lawmaker, letters to the editor, or even better, lobbying, are two of the more effective ways to influence policy makers in matters of funding for foreign family planning clinics, contraceptives with health insurance, and other important population and sustainability solutions.
Sample Letter to a Member of the US House of Representatives Supporting Title X
I wish to appeal for your support for the maximum possible funding for Title X of the Public Health Service Act--Domestic Family Planning Assistance which pays for gynecological and contraceptive services for poor US women. President Clinton's FY2000 budget contains $240 million for the Title X family-planning grant program. (Congress approved $237 million for FY1999 and $215 million for FY1998.)
Every public dollar spent for family planning services saves $4.40--over $3 in medical costs alone--that otherwise would be spent over the next two years to provide medical care, welfare benefits and other social services to pregnant women. Publicly funded family planning services prevent an average of 1.2 million unintended pregnancies each year, including 516,000 abortions (1995 data).
Public support for family planning services for those who would be unable to afford them is a cost-effective way of reducing the public costs of problems like aid to families with dependent children, poverty, drugs, prison over-crowding, crowded classrooms and numerous other costs that taxpayers support. Yet, despite all these benefits, funding for Title X has fallen 72% during 1980-98 (corrected for inflation). As a result, fewer than 50% of women eligible for Title X services now receive these services.
No Title X funding is used for abortions. In fact, Title X services significantly reduces the need for abortions by preventing unplanned pregnancies. (Nearly half of unintended pregnancies end in abor tion in the US.) About 60% of all pregnancies to US women are unplanned--about three million/year. But 76% of pregnancies to poor women are unplanned. In the US, the proportion of births that are unintended is as high as or higher than it is in 25 developing countries.
About 33 million US women are considered to be at risk for unintended pregnancy; more than 16 million are low-income women needing subsidized contraceptive services (1995 data).
Compared with other industrialized countries, US teenagers experience considerably higher rates of pregnancy, despite the fact that levels of adolescent sexual activity are about the same. The US teenage pregnancy rate is twice as high as in Eng land, France, Wales and Canada, and 9 times as high as in the Nether lands. One million US teenagers become pregnant every year, 85% unintentionally. Half of these pregnancies end in birth, a third in abortion, and the rest in miscarriage (1995 data). 73% of US teenagers who accidentally become pregnant are poor or low-income, even though overall only 38% of those aged 15-19 are poor or low-income. 54% of lower income teenagers who become pregnant choose to have an abortion (1995 data).
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US Funding History
For 20 years the Holy See has claimed statehood at the UN, which grants it special status. Its dogmatic views on the provision of reproductive healthcare services and the family place it squarely in the way of policymakers who wish to guarantee rights and provide services to people around the world.
The Holy See's impact has used its prestige and resources to stymie attempts at the United Nations, state and local levels to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare services. Though cloaked in language that seems to respect women's needs, without access to abortion, contraception and other basic services people die, and value systems that undermine women's well-being are fostered. Other legislative bodies have been affected as well. In 2002 that the EU adopted language about reproductive health that made no reference to abortion because of the UN Programme of Action the Holy See helped shape in 1994.
The dual nature of the papacy started with Pope Leo IX in 1054 when it was perceived that the Emperor Constantine I transferred the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. In 1095, Pope Urban II used his influence to enlist most of Western Europe in a war to capture the Holy Land that would bring bloodshed to every region that stood in the way.
In 1859 French writer Edmond About described a pope who presided over a territory where the educational system was poor; the force of law practically dysfunctional; the tax system in disarray; and whose inhabitants were "all crying out loudly against him." About said this was an odd social structure where "the legislative, executive, and judicial powers are united, confounded and jumbled together in one and agreement established the Holy See within the area of Vatican City, the size of which has been described as "about the size of an 18-hole golf course".
The Holy See began participating in international organizations such as the World Health Organization and in 1964 joined the UN as a Nonmember State Permanent Observer, a designation it once shared only with Switzerland, which became a full member in 2002. This elevated status grants the Holy See much more direct access to UN proceedings than other religions participating as nongovernmental organizations. Since 2004, the Holy See has had some of the privileges of a member state at the UN, such as being able to speak, reply and circulate documents in the General Assembly.
The 108.7-acre Vatican City has a small population where many residents never obtain citizenship, and those that do have their citizenship revoked upon termination of their employment. All member states have a definite population, but when the Holy See decides to speak as a religion, its numbers jump from 1,000 Vatican City residents to 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.
In 1964 UN Secretary-General U Thant based his decision to allow the Holy See's entrance as a permanent observer on the fact that it enjoyed diplomatic recognition by most UN member states. As powerful as it is, diplomatic recognition can be revoked in certain situations: many countries withdrew recognition from South Africa towards the end of the apartheid era.
One of the United Nations' foundational principles, the Rule of Law, which is embedded in the UN Charter, demands that all states are accountable to the same laws and human rights norms. In other words, states around the world should all follow the same rules when dealing with each other and at the UN, because they are all basically the same.
At the United Nations, however, the Holy See signs treaties as a state, but does not bind itself to those treaties. The Holy See signed on to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but did not submit a mandatory progress report due on the Rights of the Child in 1997, and although it was supposed to be released last year, the document is now 15 years late.
The Holy See has a ready exit if it is called to account: it can face its critics as a religion which lets the Holy See claim almost anything to be true.
Where the 1995 Beijing Declaration pledged to ensure the rights of women and girls as "inalienable," the Holy See rejected this very premise, saying, "Surely this international gathering could have done more for women and girls than to leave them alone with their rights!"
In 1994 the Vatican sent special envoys to Tehran and Tripoli to drum up support for the Holy See's planned anti-reproductive rights stance at the forthcoming International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. Pope John Paul II also sent letters to every head of state worldwide warning that the wrong policy decisions at the conference could bring about an impending “moral decline resulting in a serious setback for humanity."
The Holy See's many objections at Cairo delayed the conference for a full week in order to exclude abortion from the definition of "reproductive health." Instead of a commitment to safe abortion access for all women, the resulting Programme of Action merely stated, “In circumstances in which abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe."
The Holy See declared in 1989 that it "interprets the phrase ‘Family planning education and services' … to mean only those methods of family planning which it considers morally acceptable, that is, the natural methods of family planning."
When the Holy See objected in 1999 to the UN's provision of emergency contraception to rape victims in Kosovo, there was an international outcry. Reflecting in 2008 on the early years of the UN aids response, Adrienne Germain, former president of the International Women's Health Coalition, said, "I remember when people literally gasped when the Holy See said no condoms for AIDS."
Holy See has made claims that a rights-based reproductive health model turns women into victims, or that abortion has been documented to harm a woman's mental health. Faced with allegations like these, other UN actors must choose between refuting each and every claim or moving forward. As a result, falsehoods like "as a matter of scientific fact, a new human life begins at conception," were entered in the minutes of a 2011 General Assembly session.
Many people think the Catholic faith can be defended even better at the UN as an NGO. it would be a powerful gesture for the Holy See to voluntarily join the ranks of the other religions as an NGO, and concentrate on partnering with other religious leaders to bring solace to a troubled world. Such a move would probably do wonders for the Holy See's public image, so badly in need of repair after the sexual abuse crisis and the recent clampdown on dissent.
A bipartisan coalition led by Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) reintroduced a bill to overturn the global gag rule that prohibits family planning programs in developing nations that accept US aid from counseling women about abortions or advocating for legal abortion.
It rule was instituted by the Reagan administration, repealed by Clinton, but reinstituted by Bush. US dollars to foreign family planning programs cannot fund abortions overseas due to the 1973 Helms amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act.
Economists have recognized linkages between population and economic development. Yet, the attention given to these linkages has varied enormously over time. Looking over recent decades, it is hard to escape two conclusions: (a) politics plays a more important role than academic discourse and this influences the attention given to population matters; and (b) fads are almost as ubiquitous in international thinking on development issues as they are in issues of dress, eating habits and youth culture. The role of politics in influencing debate on population is seen at the series of UN population conferences. Each was diverted by unexpected developments.
At Bucharest in 1972, there was an ideological confrontation over the structure of the international economic order; China and India, both of which had strong domestic programmes to control population growth, were in denial such programmes were needed, while the US was seen as the key proponent of population programmes and the key opponent of a new international economic order, and most developing countries were loath to be seen as lining up on its side. In 1984 at the Mexico City conference, officials in the United States Government having population responsibilities and lead by a "right to life" spokesman, promoted a line that the relationship between population growth and economic development is not necessarily a negative one and that what is needed is economic reform consistent with a market economy. At Cairo, the networking skills of feminist groups managed to upstage the efforts of the UN, through prior population conferences and group meetings, and to deliver an outcome that differed widely from original expectations. These unexpected political intrusions served to reduce attention to many items that deserved more debate. They did not prevent the emergence of valuable documents, which helped to guide population policy over the decade that followed each of them. At the Population Conference in Bangkok in 2002, tactics by one delegation failed to shake the unity of the Asian and Pacific delegations. We have witnessed a succession of emphases that have demanded priority attention. Environment, sustainable development, gender equity, refugees, human trafficking, HIV, poverty reduction all important in their own right, but turning into the issue of the moment in the hallways of international conferences and meetings of international agencies. Note that population was ignored at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, despite evidence of important linkages between population and environmental issues. At the time that in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines devastating flooding and landslides have been blamed on deforestation, we need a discussion of the causes of illegal logging and population pressures on vegetation cover through expansion of settlements and changing patterns of shifting cultivation. The sustainability of the world's megacities also needs study. Some analysts conclude that the rapid growth of megacities has ended and are the result of ignoring the growth outside metropolitan boundaries. This neglect of the population factor in sustainable development comes when the consensus on the negative impacts of high fertility are widely recognized among academic economists, and new studies of population waves on development are yielding interesting findings. What can explain this neglect of population issues in the broader development community? Perhaps one problem is the academic and policy community that operates on the premise that demography is central to understanding development issues. This group finds it hard to carry much weight in the general community, now that the specter of the population explosion has receded. The UN show a leveling off of world population by the middle of this century, so for many the time has come to move from population to serious issues. The fact that global population size could grow by another 40% to 50% before levelling off no longer seems to cause much concern and in the Asian and Pacific region ignores two key points: (a) population is a factor in development when it is stabilizing and promising to implode because of very low fertility; and there is a wide range in population circumstances throughout Asia. Planners in Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore are preoccupied with how to deal with declining labour forces and rapidly ageing populations. This does not negate the relevance of the issues for Pakistan, where fertility is falling to moderate levels, and the Philippines, where fertility is declining only very slowly amd these trends portend massive increases in population, which these countries appear ill-equipped to deal with. The forces that have blocked effective family planning in these two countries is weak government, corruption and social injustices that are preventing economic development. The counter argument is that rapid population growth exacerbates problems of weak government, corruption and social injustice. It is the interplay of population trends fertility, mortality and migration that is crucial economic, social development and social cohesion. The migration factor is uppermost in Europe, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore, as they contemplate the population future. Perhaps those of us who have the conviction that populations matter in development and the training to demonstrate that this is so, are not engaging in enough dialogue with those who are preoccupied with globalization, poverty, injustice and environmental issues.
The Senate adopted by voice vote the Lugar-Feinstein amendment restoring $1.1 billion to the Senate Budget Resolution that had been previously stripped from the Administration's request for the Fiscal Year 2004 International Affairs Budget (also called the 150 Account). After the unanimous vote, the Senate's budget resolution now allocates $28.5 billion for the international affairs budget (which includes family planning). This was the Administration's full request for Fiscal Year 2004.
For a side-by-side of the FY 2003 and FY 2004 budget requests, see http://www.colead.org/FY-04%20Budget%20Request.htm As the pie chart graph at the bottom of this page notes, foreign international affairs assistance totals less than 1% of the total FY 04 budget of the U.S.
The Senate also more than cut in half the Administration's proposed tax cuts. Cutting taxes in order to generate deficits, which are then used to justify cuts in programs that include environmental protection, family planning, and foreign assistance, is a time-honored tradition on Capitol Hill. A smaller tax cut means less cuts to programs most Americans care about -- and millions of people in the developing world depend on.
The Mexico City Policy aka Global Gag Rule
Senate Committee Approves Permanent Ban on Global Gag RuleJuly 29, 2010, Population Connection
Late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment which permanently repeals the notorious Global Gag Rule, preventing a future President from unilaterally reinstating the policy. President Obama repealed the Gag Rule in the first week of his presidency, but the fact that the policy could be reinstated with the next Presidency has a chilling effect on US family planning efforts overseas. The amendment passed by a vote of 19-11.
The Committee also approved $700 million for international family planning, including $55 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The amount is $50 million over the current funding level, but less than the $716 million requested by President Obama, and less than the $735 million approved by a House subcommittee.
President Obama has rescinded the Mexico City population policy and promised to restore funding to UNFPA. He means to revive U.S. leadership in support of family planning around the world, and to sustain the global environment.
These actions will help women realize their right to control their own fertility; and help prevent unwanted pregnancies.
But we must also address the fact that stabilizing population growth worldwide is critical if we are going to balance the number of people on the planet with its environmental base. The roles of family planning and per-capita resource consumption in achieving a sustainable environment cannot be understated. Serious attention must now be given to population issues, or environmental sustainability won't happen.
We have overstepped the boundaries on C02 emissions, resulting in climate change; water scarcity affects 1.1 billion people worldwide, including in the western U.S.; and misguided development has destroyed the habitat of many plant and animal species.
We seem to have forgotten that stabilizing earth's population is an essential part of achieving a sustainable environment. In 2009, our footprints don't come cheap in environmental terms.
Great Britain is among the industrialized nations beginning to take a serious look at the way family size affects the environment. Here in the U.S. we too can begin to consider whether two children might be sufficient if we want to be realistic about our collective environmental footprint. It's a subject for discussions, public education campaigns, and a new national awareness.
Religious Left's Wrong-Minded Appeal on Global Gag RuleJanuary 22, 2009, RH Reality Check
Pro-life Obama has repealed the Mexico City "gag rule" which prevents American dollars from going to groups that offer abortion services. But some are urging the Obama administration to delay that until he can put it in a broader "abortion reduction" agenda.
First the religious left's explanation of what the Mexico City Policy or Global Gag Rule does is inaccurate. The Global Gag Rule was first put in place by Ronald Reagan, to deny funding to international family planning organizations unless they agreed to specific curtailments as set by the US on the medical services and information they provided to their patients. Health centers in developing nations, which help women and men plan their families and avoid unintended pregnancies, would not be allowed to provide abortions discuss abortion or even hang a poster that mentions abortion.
In countries like Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, imposition of the global gag rule has meant the loss of funds for the contraceptive supplies and services needed to prevent unintended pregnancies. If a woman is in need of a life or health saving abortion? The health center is censored from providing a referral or even telling her that is what she needs.
If you block funds to family planning organizations for family planning and contraception provision, this usually leads to abortion.
The Global Gag Rule was put in place to appease anti-choice voices. President Obama understands that these nods or gestures are are harmful to women and global society's efforts to grow and evolve.
By Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). .. President Obama and our new Congress can place American foreign policy firmly on the side of free speech, of women's health, and family planning, which is a cornerstone of social stability, economic growth, and public health in the developing world. And we can do it easily, with no cost to the taxpayers, by repealing the "Global Gag Rule," which was enacted by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and restored by George W. Bush. The rule restricts U.S. family planning assistance from going to foreign NGOs that use funding from any other source to perform abortions; provide counseling and referral for abortion; or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country.
It is responsible for untold misery and, has increased the number of unintended pregnancies and put millions of women's and children's lives at risk. The Bush Administration has resisted reasonable compromise. which passed Congress with the support of pro-choice and pro-life Members, but President Bush threatened to veto all funding for international aid to prevent it from becoming law.
Few actions would benefit more people with less effort, or send signal to the world that America is prepared once again to be a leader for individual rights, personal dignity, and commonsense policy that saves lives.
EngenderHealth is mobilizing efforts to improve global reproductive health. The first action is to overturn the Global Gag Rule, which was meant to target abortion providers, and over the last eight years it has had terrible consequences for the health and lives of poor women and their families in ways that have nothing to do with abortion. The domino effect from this policy has affected family planning services, maternal and child health care, and HIV services.
Women's rights activists see an open door to Barack Obama, and they plan to walk right in. They have a long list of recommendations for Obama, who is viewed as more receptive than his predecessor.
"For eight years, we have suffered under an administration that has suppressed science to the detriment of health and has done damage to constitutional and human rights values", said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a letter to Obama.
Barack Obama will lift a freeze on funding for global family planning programs. The UNFPA will be funded.
The Obama transition team has not said what the president-elect intends to do upon taking office, though transition co-chair John Podesta said the incoming adminstration was reviewing where we can move forward.
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Family Planning Prevents Abortions!
A new U.S. Supreme Court decision has blocked a challenge to the Oklahoma Supreme Court's ruling that a state law effectively banning medical abortions was unconstitutional. Still, women in Oklahoma and in many states must take abortion-inducing drugs in the presence of a physician, which limits access to the non-surgical procedure for those who live in rural areas or must arrange childcare and time off work.
And Texas, Arizona and Ohio have passed measures requiring adherence to an outdated FDA protocol for medical abortions, while the World Health Organization has more recently determined that a smaller dose administered until a later date in the pregnancy and with fewer doctor's visits is equally effective and less invasive.
In July the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 24 upheld a 2005 South Dakota law requiring physicians to advise women seeking abortions that they face an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts if they obtain the procedure. This requirement is unsupported by the evidence, and is one of the many hurdles states have enacted designed to dissuade women from obtaining an abortion. While these measures are labeled "informed consent" laws, on the contrary they undermine the fundamental ethical principle of informed consent by requiring health care providers to provide misinformation to their patients.
In December 2011, a systematic review commissioned and published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (funded by the UK Department of Health, and carried out by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists) concluded that "rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy were the same whether they had an abortion or gave birth," that an "unwanted pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of mental health problems" and that the "most reliable predictor of post-abortion mental health problems was having a history of mental health problems before the abortion."
This was backed up by an August 2008 report by the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion which concluded that "the best scientific evidence indicates that the relative risk of mental health problems among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy is no greater if they have an elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver the pregnancy."
The court decision on the South Dakota law appears to rely heavily on the work of Priscilla Coleman, a professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green University. However, Coleman's work has repeatedly come under strong criticism by respected members of the scientific community, including the study of March 2012 by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the Guttmacher Institute which determined that a 2009 study by Coleman and colleagues purporting to show a causal link between abortion and subsequent mental health problems has fundamental analytical errors that render its conclusions invalid. Most egregiously, the study did not distinguish between mental health outcomes that occurred before abortions and those that occurred afterward, but still claimed to show a causal link between abortion and mental health disorders.
Laws such as South Dakota's, which are grounded in spurious research rather than the best-available scientific evidence, not only represent a gross intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship, they also endanger the health and rights of women, by intentionally misinforming them on important medical matters.
Sen. Boxer Focuses on Abortion Rights in Calif. RaceAugust 2, 2010, San Jose Mercury News
Although the economy and jobs have been the "foremost" issues in California's Senate race, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) is "intent on highlighting the distinction" between her views on abortion rights and those of her Republican opponent, Carly Fiorina, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.
A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows 39% of likely voters support Boxer -- who supports abortion rights in early stages of pregnancy -- while 34% favor Fiorina, who opposes abortion except in cases or rape, incest or to save a woman's life.
Boxer has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, NARAL Pro-Choice California, EMILY's List and the National Organization for Women. Fiorina has received endorsements from the antiabortion-rights groups California Pro-Life Council, the Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life.
Boxer says she knows that abortion is an issue that "can help drive voters her way." A director of the poll said that the issue could work in Boxer's favor if she can portray Fiorina's views as a threat to the status quo. 53% of Fiorina's supporters consider themselves "pro-choice," according to a recent poll.
US South Carolina;: Abortion Ultrasound Bill Likely to Change; Senate Passage Expected - with Exemptions for Rape, Incest VictimsMarch 29, 2007, The State (US)
A controversial South Carolina House-passed bill requiring women seeking an abortion to first view an ultrasound is on a path to pass the Senate though with exceptions for victims of rape and incest.
Other changes, including one that makes viewing the ultrasound an option, will face a tougher road.
The house narrowly defeated an amendment that would have created exceptions to the ultrasound requirements in the cases of rape or incest.
Several speakers told the panel they had abortions as young women and regretted the decision, emotionally, physically, and morally.
But an attorney, wife and mother, Kern-Fuller said she is "pro-life, pro-choice and pro-family."
"South Carolina is still trying to limit women's access to safe and affordable reproductive health care, and it is still trying to unconstitutionally dictate women's medical choices," Kern-Fuller said. We realize the state of South Carolina is going to pass a law requiring ultrasounds be viewed, said a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Health Systems. "But the more mainstream option is to give women the option to view ultrasound."
Japan Donates 2 Million for Poor Areas in PeruNovember 23, 2006, Agence France Presse
Japan will donate two million dollars to improve health and education services for women and children in the impoverished Andean provinces of Ayacucho and Apurimac via the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security.
The project is to improve maternal health, childhood development and basic education to the populations where poverty levels exceed 78%.
U.S.: The Battle to Ban Birth ControlMarch 20, 2006, Salon.com
Mary Worthington regards contraception as immoral and dangerous. This month she launched No Room for Contraception, a clearinghouse for arguments and personal testimonials on this subject. NRFC joins others on an anti-contraception Web. NRFC doesn't even address abortion; its sole purpose is to "prove" that the pill and the IUD cause health problems and destroy women's fertility and condoms lead to the spread of SRDs by making people believe that sex can be safe, that contraception destroys marriages by rendering sex an act of pleasure rather than one of procreation. The vast majority of Americans support access to birth control: even 80% of anti-choice Americans support women's access to contraception. With the exception of a dwindling number of Catholics, a majority of American women have used or regularly use some form of contraception. Supporters have pressured insurance companies to refuse coverage of contraception and are redefining the very meaning of pregnancy to classify contraceptive methods as abortion. Although its medical arguments are thinly veiled moral and religious arguments, the rising anti-contraception movement, echoed by the Catholic Church, is making significant inroads. After Roe v. Wade was decided, debate focused on abortion but (for anti-choicers) they are not separate issues. The National Right to Life affiliates have opposed legislation that would provide insurance coverage for contraception. Iowa Right to Life lists birth control methods, including the pill, the IUD, Norplant and Depo-Provera, as abortifacients. Contraception lessens the number of abortions. But once one understands what the true agenda of activists like Worthington is, and their attitude toward sexuality, the contradictions vanish. For them, sex should always be about procreation; since contraception prevents conception, it is immoral. They believe that women's biological destiny is to be mothers. Sex and the role of women are linked, because "if you can separate sex from procreation, you have given women the ability to participate in society on an equal basis with men." The anti-birth-control movement has seized recent headlines about emergency contraception to put forth its view that E.C. is tantamount to abortion. Anti-choice activists don't bother to distinguish between RU-486, the "abortion pill," which terminates an early pregnancy, and emergency contraception, which helps prevent pregnancy. The American Medical Association defines pregnancy as the moment when implantation occurs; the anti-choice movement, completely ignoring scientific fact, is attempting to redefine pregnancy as the moment when sperm and egg meet. Once a fertilized egg is considered a human life, it's just a hop to concluding that the standard birth-control pill is an abortifacient. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 15 states have fetal homicide laws that means that one can be convicted of manslaughter or murder for destroying a fertilized egg. The National Institutes of Health convened experts to evaluate the condom's effectiveness at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and they concluded that correct condom use definitively protected against the spread of HIV and gonorrhea, and there was a strong probability of condom effectiveness for other STDs, including human papillomavirus (HPV). The findings were used to declare that condoms don't protect against HPV a wild misappropriation of fact that has nonetheless become a big part of the anti-choice argument against the condom's efficacy. Such subtle shifts have helped anti-choice activists to argue that condoms help spread STDs by giving users a false sense of security. One reason for the new push to restrict birth control may have to do with changes in the Catholic Church although many anti-contraception campaigners insist this has nothing to do with Catholicism. NRFC is filled with discussions of Catholic texts and Bible-study documents. Like the Catholic Church, NRFC opposes the use of contraception even within marriage as it leads to promiscuity, and furthers the idea the sex has nothing to do with childbearing or commitment. Contraception has given women the freedom to put off marriage, to go to college in greater numbers, to bring more wanted children into the world, and to find good jobs and thus bring more wealth into their families; and banning contraception would turn back the clock.
U.S.: Utah Among Nine States Considering Fetal Pain LegislationFebruary 10, 2006, Associated Press
House Bill 222 would compel Utah doctors to tell women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks or later that their fetus could feel pain, and require offering anesthetic for the fetus. Utah is one of nine states considering fetal pain legislation. In most cases, the legislation only requires that women be notified about possible fetal pain, but some measures state that fetuses feel pain 20 weeks after conception, while others make it a crime for medical providers to deny anesthesia to a fetus if the woman asks for it. In a bill now before Congress, doctors would have to read a script to patients, stating that Congress had determined that abortion causes fetuses as 20-weeks of gestation and later to feel pain. Women would be also required to sign a form stating their acceptance or rejection of fetal anesthetics. There's not consensus on the issue of fetal pain, indeed there is evidence that anesthetics present a risk to women's health. Abortion rights advocates say such laws put the fetus and pregnant woman in conflict potentially jeopardizing the health of the woman. The information that a doctor provides to a patient should be based on the best available science and proven medical practice. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it knows of no scientific information that a fetus experiences pain. Research suggests the connection between the spinal cord and the brain begins sometime between 20 and 40 weeks of gestation. Doctors said that there is no protocol for administering anesthetic during an abortion; and that the process would differ from intrauteral surgeries, where a fetus can be sedated. Research from the Utah Department of Health indicates that the women who undergo an abortion at 20 weeks or later do so because either their own health is in jeopardy, or because of severe abnormalities that suggest the fetus is no longer viable. In 2003, only two Utah women had abortions after 20 weeks.
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Related Foreign Aid: Development, Disease Treatment and Prevention, Microcredit
A recent study sponsored by Population Matters concludes that investment in measures shown to reduce population growth is key to addressing extreme poverty.December 6 , 2013, Population Matters
A recent London School of Economics and Political Science graduate project sponsored by Population Matters, More Aid + More People ≠ Less Poverty, showed that high fertility rates and thus rapidly increasing population size were the main reason for the number of people living in absolute poverty to increase in the 20 highest fertility countries during the past two decades, despite a sharp increase in the number of aid recipients.
Total fertility rates in these countries remained well above world average. A key factor in poverty reduction is thus reducing population growth to a reasonable level.
Three aspects of development aid were shown to contribute to fertility reduction: family planning, education and economic infrastructure. However, the percentage of development aid spent on these three aspects combined was a mere 16 per cent, with only a derisory 0.3 per cent being spent on the most important of these — family planning.
Since fertility reduction is key to reducing poverty, aid donors should have invested much more aid in these three areas — especially family planning.
Commented Population Matters chair, Roger Martin, "This is yet more evidence supporting the argument for investing far greater sums in programmes shown to reduce fertility rates and hence population growth. Aid strategies that increase longevity without at the same time reducing fertility are simply running to catch up with ever-increasing numbers of people. Indeed they appear actually to create more poor people, and thus the basis for future humanitarian crises."
Preliminary data indicate that official development assistance (ODA) totaled $128.4 billion (in 2011 dollars) that year, down 4 percent from 2011's $133.7 billion. The 2012 figure marks a 6 percent decline from 2010, when global ODA peaked at $136.7 billion, write Worldwatch staff in the latest Vital Signs Online trend.
Suzanne York of HowMany.org comments on an editorial which claims that a Mitt Romney administration would harm women's reproductive rights both domestically and internationally. Not only will Americans lose access to free contraceptives under Obamacare's mandate to provide birth control without a co-pay. Many women and their families in developing countries will suffer.
Scroll several articles down from here and you will find an article from the Huffington Post, "Global Gag Rule's Return Would Threaten Women Worldwide".
York says: "Apparently Mr. Romney doesn't care that 222 million women in developing countries want access to family planning services but do not have that access, and doesn't understand that helping them is both critical to helping them… and helping provide a better future for all of us on the planet."
She tells us of the high-level London Summit on Family Planning in July where donors pledged to provide $2.6 billion over the next eight years to help the world's 120 million poorest women gain access to voluntary family planning information, services and supplies by 2020. More than 20 developing countries made commitments to increase spending on family planning.
The U.S. supplied $610 in 2012 toward international family planning and reproductive health programs, which, according to the Guttmacher Institute, makes it possible for: 31.6 million women and couples to receive contraceptive services and supplies; 9.4 million unintended pregnancies and 4.1 million unplanned births to be averted; 4 million induced abortions to be averted (3 million of them unsafe); 22,000 maternal deaths to be averted; and 96,000 fewer children to lose their mothers.
$35 million of the U.S. money went to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), whose mission is to"reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect."
Romney and other conservatives want to cut off U.S. funding for the UNFPA.
UNFPA's programs include health care for women refugees, where one in five women are likely to be pregnant. Female refugees are often exposed to trauma, malnutrition, disease and violence. They desperately need maternal health services and proper clinics for childbirth. Another program educates married men on reproductive health in order to improve access to maternal and newborn health services. Well-respected men in the community are brought together to discuss concerns centered on reproductive health. 137 such schools have been established in southern Niger.
Romney as president would likely cut U.S. foreign assistance, which at present comprises only about 1% of the U.S. federal budget, and more likely he will especially cut aid to international family planning and reproductive health programs.
August 05, 2012, RH Reality Check
Political Research Associates have released a report, Colonizing African Values: How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, which documents the U.S. Christian Right's attempts to push an ideology hostile to reproductive and LGBT rights on sub-Saharan African countries.
For example, in Tanzania in 2008, billboards depicted a "Faithful Condom User" as a skeleton in a blatant attempt to discourage condom use as an effective HIV prevention method. The billboard's sponsor was Human Life International (HLI), a Roman Catholic organization group based in the United States.
HLI is staunchly opposed to contraception, abortion, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, sex education, and homosexuality. Another U.S. Christian Right group peddling corrosive reproductive politics in Africa is Family Watch International, a small Arizona-based group, which condemns the United Nations' efforts to support family planning services and reproductive health options for women. One of the groups claims is that vaccine distribution is really a secret sterilization program designed to destroy the African family.
Abortion is already illegal in most African countries, bans first passed decades ago under colonial governments, and even where there are some exceptions the complications of the law often drive women to obtain illegal and dangerous procedures, such as "drinking surf (washing powder), using wires, and poisonous herbs.
Groups like Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, led by Jay Sekulow (a Romney campaign favorite) and HLI are pushing for even stricter laws and constitutional bans. However, when it comes to enforcement, both police and individuals seem to shy away from invading the "personal" decisions of women who seek abortions, even when they disapprove of the procedure.
You can view the executive summary of this report at ##http://www.publiceye.org/Reports/Colonizing_African_Values/Pdfs/PRA.Colonizing.Exec.Summ.pdf
In July the Human Rights Commission held a hearing on child marriage where Melanne Verveer, the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues urged Congress to pass the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (H.R. 2103 S. 987).
If passed, the State Department would be required to come up with a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the empowerment of young girls who are at risk of child marriage.
Child marriage is a recognized violation of human rights, an average of 25,000 girls a day become child brides, and unless something is done to change this trend within the next 10 years, over 100 million girls in the developing world will become child brides.
Child marriage is a concern in 64 of the 182 countries that were surveyed. It is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These girls are often prevented from continuing their education and frequently become pregnant before they are physically capable of having a safe pregnancy. Child brides also face a significantly greater risk of domestic violence and HIV infection. Because of their unequal ages and social status, child brides are frequently unable to negotiate with their husbands about sex, contraception, and birth spacing. They often encounter difficulties in finding employment outside the home because schooling is interrupted.
The children of child brides are also victims. Their mothers often die early, or suffer life- threatening illnesses, due to pregnancy-related causes. Children born to child brides also have higher rates of low birth weights, infant mortality, and premature birth than those of children born to older mothers.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a zero tolerance policy on abortion and has blocked support for safe abortions by withholding funding of a $18 million grant to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Abortion is legal in Canada
"We submitted an application for a three-year funding renewal to CIDA . . . in June, 2009," said Paul Bell of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London. "It is unusual not to have heard anything about the proposal at this stage, 11 months after it was submitted."
Up until now, Canada has supplied a significant part of Planned Parenthood's $120 million annual budget.
Another maternal health agency, Marie Stopes International, has already fallen under the abortion ban - and received only funding on the agency avoiding any connection with abortion.
“The decision is a real missed opportunity to make an impact on the 13 per cent of maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortions globally," said the group's CEO Dana Hovig in a statement. “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health and (that) includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband are also upset about Canada's abortion stance. The Canadian government won't fund abortion, but Harper says it will put money into programs for safe pregnancy and childbirth, as well as family planning.
However, Harper has not backed a plan to ask world leaders to endorse a more than $30 billion global fund estimated to save the lives of up to 12 million women, children and newborns, nor has Canada supported the pre-summit Women Deliver conference in Washington, which will be attended by senior officials and politicians from around the world, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
A leading international health organization and the UNFPA released a report about the impact of expanded access to contraception. The Guttmacher Institute says meeting the world's needs for modern birth control would reduce maternal deaths by 70%.
Family planning would eliminate two-thirds of unintended pregnancies and three-quarters of unsafe abortions.
Spending on contraception would ultimately reduce other health costs, saving an estimated $5.1 billion annually.
Canadian PM Harper has remained non-committal about whether contraception fits into its new mother-and- child health initiative. The Conservatives have shied away from abortion services being one of the areas they would support through international aid, but have also not conclusively said they would also fund family planning.
On Thursday, representatives from a number of high- profile health groups, urged the Tories at least to include family planning as part of their maternal-and child-health initiative.
While the organizations agreed access to safe abortions was part of maternal health, they did not insist the government also commit to support them.
Susan Cohen, of the Washington-based Guttmacher Institute, said other countries would have to be lobbied to pick up Canada's slack on targeting unsafe abortions.
She noted that half of all abortions performed in the world are unsafe, and contraception could reduce them to 5 million from 20 million.
No Conservative politician was scheduled to officially receive the report or meet with the groups.
The whole issue of what constitutes reproductive health caused a rift in the Liberal caucus. Several MPs either missed or voted against a Liberal motion supporting "the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options, including contraception," causing the party to lose the vote.
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US Funding for Domestic Family Planning
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) consider themselves champions of health care for the masses, food for the hungry, and shelter for the homeless -- things the government, when operational, helps to provide. But they also want to block women of all faiths, on the whim of an employer, from receiving prescription birth control as part of the preventive care benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Apparently they wouldn't mind seeing the global economy brought to its knees for the sake of making the most effective forms of contraception more difficult for women to obtain.
In a letter dated September 26, Archbishop Seán Cardinal O'Malley of Boston and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore prevailed upon members of Congress to attach to the next version of the continuing resolution measures that would allow private employers, as well as large church-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities, to be exempted from a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires that all insurance plans cover prescription contraception without a co-pay. (Houses of worship are exempt from this regulation, but church-affiliated institutions that serve a secular purpose are not.) A continuing resolution (CR) is a means of funding the government in the absence of a budget.
"As Congress considers a Continuing Resolution and a debt ceiling bill in the days to come, we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such "must-pass" legislation," wrote Lori and O'Malley.
The lobbyists of the USCCB knew that such a maneuver would likely bring about a government shutdown. If poor babies went hungry because the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) closed down, so be it. If poor children were locked out of their Head Start classrooms, that was apparently deemed a small price to pay to make a stand against allowing people to plan their families.
As the Affordable Care Act took shape in March 2010, the government planned to grant subsidies to lower-income people who sought insurance through government exchanges, the anti-choice forces contended that any policies that covered abortion -- even if women chose to pay extra for such coverage out of their own pockets -- amounted to a violation of the Hyde amendment. But states were granted the right to opt out of offering abortion coverage on their ACA exchanges, and so far, 25 have placed severe restrictions on (or banned all) abortion coverage. So insurance coverage for abortion -- once a fairly standard insurance provision -- is becoming more rare.
As the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began crafting the regulations for implementing the Affordable Care Act in 2011, the USCCB adopted a counter-initiative. No longer was the emphasis on the alleged moral evil of contraception; it was now on an ostensible threat the bishops claimed was being made to the religious liberty of Catholics by the Obama administration -- even though this campaign was a dud among regular Catholics. The USCCB injected the bishops' anti-Obama message into the 2012 election. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made an ad showing Pope John Paul II accusing Obama of “waging war on religion."
More than 70 lawsuits, launched by religious institutions and private businesses, have been filed challenging the contraception mandate under much the same logic as that employed by the bishops.
In 2012 and early 2013, the Obama administration made an accommodation in the regulations for Catholic-affiliated institutions, and similar institutions affiliated with other religions, that mandates insurance companies to pay for the contraception benefit, which is not subject to a deductible or a patient co-payment, rather than the employer offering the plan. When the regulations were finalized earlier this year, the bishops were livid.
In September the House attached to a revised continuing resolution an amendment that would have delayed by a year the implementation of the contraception mandate -- as well as a number of other preventative care benefits for women, such as screenings for human papillomavirus (HPV), counseling for domestic violence victims, and breastfeeding supplies.
Two days later, the bishops' lobby sent members of Congress another letter calling on Congress to pass a just budget and an immigration bill. They expressed concern for the future of health care. Then they added: "s Cardinal O'Malley and Archbishop Lori explain in their September 26 letter, access to health care may also be compromised by recent threats to conscience rights in health care."
In essence: Drop the contraception benefit mandate, and nobody gets hurt. But if you don't, don't blame us for what happens next.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped out the amendment, sent the bill back to the House, and, with the deadline having passed for the enactment of a continuing resolution by both chambers, the government shut down, which took effect on October 1, 2013.
News on U.S. Women's Health and PoliticsJune 10, 2013
The U.S. government has awarded a three-year Title X family planning grant to the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (WHFPT), a network of individual providers and clinics that specialize in reproductive health care. The Texas Department of State Health Services was the administrator of the grant until Republican Gov. Rick Perry and conservative legislators decimated the state's existing family planning infrastructure in the 2011 legislative session and reserved the bulk of family planning funds for inefficient, unspecialized primary care clinics in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Texas officials consider Planned Parenthood an abortion "affiliate," despite the fact that no Texas Planned Parenthood clinics that receive any public funds perform abortions.
Planned Parenthood clinics are among the health-care providers that applied for the grant under the WHFPT, a group of 34 contractors at 121 clinics statewide.
With the estimated $13 million each year WHFPT was awarded, WHFPT CEO Fran Hagerty anticipates the coalition seeing almost double the number of clients that the Department of State Health Services had projected; she conservatively estimates 160,000 clients served annually, compared to the state's 65,000. WHFPT does not have to adhere to the state's inefficient, tiered funding structure, which was created specifically to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funds.
The Center for Biological Diversity commissioned a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.
64% said that, with the human population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, wildlife will be adversely affected.
61% said they are already concerned about the rate at which wildlife is disappearing.
57% believe human population growth is "significantly impacting the disappearance of wildlife."
The results on consumption and on climate change suggest people agree that population/consumption should be part of any comprehensive solution to climate change.
57% said they "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" that population growth is making climate change worse.
56% said either stabilizing or reducing population growth would make climate change easier to solve.
48% said the average American consumes too many natural resources, while only 17% said we are consuming too few.
60% said our society has a "moral responsibility" to address wildlife extinctions in the face of a growing population.
54% agree that stabilizing population growth will help protect the environment.
59% said addressing the effects of population growth is an important environmental issue.
The next step is making it crystal-clear to decision-makers that Americans want something done now -- that this issue should be a national priority and part of any discussion about saving the world we live in.
A group of House Republicans recently introduced a bill to repeal the birth control benefit. Two weeks ago, a group of 11 politicians chose to stand with companies that have sued for the right to deny employees birth control coverage. These businesses think that bosses should get to control the health care choices of their employees. These are part of an orchestrated attack on women's access to birth control, despite the fact that 70% of Americans support insurance companies covering birth control without co-pays.
No company, no boss, should get to control the health care choices of their employees. No woman should have to ask her boss for permission to use birth control. Women should be able to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies.
While you stand with the companies who want to take this coverage away, I stand with the 70% of Americans who agree with the law, and who believe insurance companies should cover this basic benefit. When women have the power to protect their health, to plan their families, to make their own medical decisions, we all benefit.
Guaranteeing access to affordable birth control means fewer unintended pregnancies, healthier families, and women more in control of their futures. So let's show these members of Congress we won't back down when it comes to protecting birth control access. Add your name today.
In U.S. state capitols over the course of the year 2012, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. Although 2011 saw 92 abortion restrictions enacted, 2012 saw the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions. This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related "provisions," rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted contain multiple relevant provisions. During the contentious presidential campaign -- in which abortion and even contraception were front-burner issues -- supporters of reproductive health and rights were able to block high-profile attacks on access to abortion in states as diverse as Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Similarly, attacks on state family planning funding were down, and only two states disqualified family planning providers from funding in 2012, compared with seven in 2011. That said, no laws were enacted in 2012 to facilitate or improve access to abortion, family planning or comprehensive sex education*. Arizona enacted abortion seven restrictions; Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin each enacted at least three. Most of the new restrictions enacted in 2012 concerned limits on later abortion, coverage in health exchanges or medication abortion. By March 2012, ultrasound requirements were introduced in 10 states. Mandatory ultrasound provisions are intended to convince a woman to continue her pregnancy to term and require a provider to perform an ultrasound even when one is not medically necessary. In February, a firestorm erupted in Virginia when it became known that the proposed mandate would, in practice, necessitate performance of a transvaginal ultrasound. The controversy not only led to passage of a somewhat weaker requirement in Virginia but also is widely seen as having blunted efforts to mandate ultrasound in Alabama, Idaho and Pennsylvania. The new law in Virginia also requires providers to give women the option to hear a fetal heartbeat in advance of having an abortion. In addition, laws adopted in Louisiana and Oklahoma require abortion providers to make the fetal heartbeat audible to the woman prior to an abortion. In 2012, Arizona, Michigan and Virginia took steps to establish stringent regulations - Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) - that affect only surgical and medication abortion providers, but not other providers of outpatient surgical and medical care. Another TARP attempt failed in Minnesota when Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a measure that would have imposed requirements on abortion providers' facilities, but not other similar outpatient health care facilities. Legislation to require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges was introduced in five states and enacted in three; this provision is not mandated for other outpatient surgical and medical providers. Arizona, Georgia and Louisiana enacted measures to ban abortion prior to fetal viability in direct conflict with U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The exceptions contained in these restrictions do not allow for an abortion when necessary to protect a woman's health, as required by the Court. Only the Louisiana restriction is fully in effect. It bans abortion at 20 weeks postfertilization (22 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period or LMP). Arizona's provision prohibits abortion at 18 weeks postfertilization (20 weeks LMP); enforcement of the restriction has, so far, been blocked by the ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals. In New Hampshire a law was passed which bans the procedure before viability, even when the woman's health is endangered. When the provision goes into effect in 2013, 19 states will have bans on "partial-birth" abortion. Four states enacted provisions banning abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges being established under the Affordable Care Act. Provisions enacted in Alabama, South Carolina and Wisconsin permit coverage of an abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. Alabama also permits coverage in the case of ectopic pregnancy, and Wisconsin permits it when a woman's physical health is at serious risk. This brings the number of states restricting abortion coverage available through state insurance exchanges to 20. In 2012, three states limited provision of medication abortion by prohibiting the use of telemedicine, which is becoming a routine part of health care, particularly in rural areas. Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin enacted provisions requiring that the physician prescribing the medication for the abortion be in the same room as the patient, bringing to seven the number of states that prohibit the use of telemedicine. South Dakota and Arizona enacted provisions requiring a woman seeking an abortion to obtain counseling that includes inaccurate or irrelevant information. This brings the number of states that require that women seeking an abortion be given misleading information to 18. Finally, the new ultrasound mandate in Virginia also requires that women who live less than 100 miles from the clinic undergo the ultrasound 24 hours in advance of the abortion compelling women to make two trips to the clinic before receiving an abortion. 10 states now have laws that necessitate a woman to make two trips. Three states - Montana, New Hampshire, and Ohio - adopted requirements that either mandate parental involvement or make it more cumbersome for a minor to use the judicial bypass procedure to obtain an abortion in the absence of parental involvement, bringing the total number of states requiring parental involvement in a minor's decision to have an abortion to 10. Research has found that minors typically involve a parent when deciding to obtain an abortion and many of those who do not talk to their parents report they would experience physical violence or abuse if their parents knew. Eight states adopted other measures related to abortion. In 2011, funds for family planning were cut by more than half in Montana, New Hampshire and Texas. In New Jersey family planning funds were cut drastically in 2010. However, 2012 saw steep cuts only in Maine where funding was slashed by 25%. In 2011, seven states (Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Indiana and Texas) moved to enact new restrictions on eligibility for family planning grant funds, often including both state funds and federal funds that flowed from the state treasury to providers. Although most of these restrictions remain in effect, only two states added new restrictions in 2012. In practice, these restrictions affect only clinics operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates. These changes bring to nine the number of states that restrict access to family planning funds Provisions relating to the mandates on contraceptive services through insurance coverage -- and specifically which employers may refuse such coverage -- were introduced in eight states and enacted in two. Eight states now have an "expansive" exemption to their contraceptive coverage mandates. Between 2007 and 2010, seven states enacted legislation related to sex education, and all but one expanded access to comprehensive sex education or added requirements that the sex education provided be medically accurate. Over the past two years, however, five states enacted legislation, and all but one supported abstinence-only education, bringing to 26 the number of states which stress abstinence in sex education.
When Texas state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics.
The Health and Human Services Commission projections now indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control. The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273 million — $103 million to $108 million to the state's general revenue budget alone -- and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those infants under Medicaid.
In the next legislative session lawmakers will grapple with an existing Medicaid financing shortfall. "I know some of my colleagues felt like in retrospect they did not fully grasp the implications of what was done last session," said Rep. Donna Howard, Democrat, who said she had been discussing ways to restore financing with several other lawmakers in both parties. "I think there is some effort they'll be willing to make to restore whatever we can."
Planned Parenthood would still probably be excluded from future financing because they are "affiliated" with clinics that perform abortions.
Senator Bob Deuell, Republican, said last session's family planning cuts had gone too far. He has the support of some of Texas' leading anti-abortion groups to seek more money for birth control and reproductive health care in 2013.
Dr. Deuell, a primary care physician said he has debated this with people who say "it's not the government's role to provide family planning," .."Ultimately, they're right. But you have to look at what happens if we don't."
The nonpartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that the cuts would lead 284,000 women to lose family planning services, resulting in 20,000 additional unplanned births at a cost to taxpayers of $231 million.
With Planned Parenthood largely out of the picture, will there be the political will to restore money for birth control, which has increasingly found itself lumped with abortion in Republican debates about family planning.
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