World Population Awareness

Funding, Accords, Politics, Legislation

August 14, 2014

Americans spend, per capita, $1.44 a year each - less than a tube of toothpaste on international population assistance.   October 2010, National Audubon Society doclink
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) doclink
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 doclink

ICPD (Cairo Convention)

United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) September 1994, Cairo, Egypt

1999, 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 doclink

UNFPA Does Not Support Abortion Services Or Information Anywhere

August 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.

Alex Marshall Chief of Media Services United Nations Population Fund New York Letter to the Editor, Washington Post doclink

The Future of the International Family Planning Movement

July 27, 2005, Population Reference Bureau

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.

"The population theme is both a threat and an opportunity. It needs to be better utilized, not for Malthusian reasons, but in order to rise above poverty," said one respondent. doclink

U.S.;: Maternal Health Donations Overflow Bush Blockade

November 08, 2007, WomensENews

The U.N. Population Fund picked up more than $200 million in new commitments over five years from the UK. UK has allocated more than $40 million per year to the fund.

Contributions are voluntarily allocated at the discretion of 180 U.N. member nations. The fund received $269 million in 2001, $389 million in 2006 and $411 million in 2007.

The organization that since 2002 has been shunned by the administration of the White House that withholds funding via a policy loophole that had its genesis during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Congress passed an amendment giving the president discretion to withhold funding from any group or agency involved in coercive abortion or sterilization. The White House has refused to release funding for the agency that was appropriated by Congress.

The withheld U.S. funding since 2002 would have allowed the UNFPA to prevent 244,000 maternal deaths. Private citizens are being encouraged to support the UNFPA through a new web service that allows a user to enter information about herslf with the idea that women around the world can begin to compare their common experiences.

Another new online tool is the MDG Monitor web site, that uses data to track progress in meeting the U.N. MDG's Visitors can quickly check global comparison of data that include maternal mortality rates and girl-boy ratios of school enrollments.

The Bush administration contends that because the UNFPA provides financial and technical resources to China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, it supports the Chinese government's program of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization.

The chief of the Washington office of UNFPA says the program in China promotes a voluntary approach to family planning and last year, spent $3.69 million in China.

Abortions declined by 18 percent between 2003 and 2005 in the counties in China where the UNFPA worked.

At least 200 million women lack access to the contraceptives they desire in order to plan their families or space their children. Reproductive health conditions are the leading cause of death and illness among women of childbearing age. Demand for family planning services is expected to increase by 4% over the next 15 years.

Other major donors promised to devote more than $1.4 billion to the overall cause of reducing maternal mortality.

The Gates Foundation, which in 2006 received a gift of $31 billion from Warren Buffett and has so far pledged $563 million to maternal health, vowed to take further action. Over $486 million has already been paid out.

Japan promised to focus on global health when it hosts the Group of Eight economic summit in Hokkaido Toyako in July 2008. doclink

World Population Day: U.S. Funding Continues to Stumble

July 11, 2007, InterPress Service

The U.S. remains the only major donor that continues to cut off funds to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Since 2002, the U.S. has withheld about 161 million dollars in funding on a false claim that UNFPA supports coercive abortion in China.

The State Department team investigated UNFPA-supported projects in China and submitted a report stating, "based on what we heard, saw, and read, we find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation in the PRC [People's Republic of China].

UNFPA has never -- and will never -- be involved in coercion in China or any part of the world.

The majority of Americans support the work of UNFPA, and we hope that a new president, Republican or Democrat, will listen to the views of voters and support UNFPA.

There is a role for both government and private philanthropy to provide support for UNFPA. Private philanthropy is not sufficient to meet the needs for the health and dignity of women. Government support is vital both financially and morally.

Over 100,000 individuals and donors have contributed nearly 3.5 million dollars to the 34 Million Friends of UNFPA campaign. In 2006, 180 countries contributed a total of 360 million dollars to the regular resources of UNFPA. It also highlights the importance of sexual and reproductive health, as well as HIV prevention, for development.

The number of UNFPA donor countries has increased over the last few years, from 69 in 1999; to 172 in 2005; to last year's new high of 180.

The top six donors were the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Britain, Japan and Denmark. doclink

The Changing Face of Foreign Assistance: New Funding Paradigms Offer a Challenge and Opportunity for Family Planning

September 05, 2006, Populationaction.org

Development assistance is far more complex now than it was during the time of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. New foreign assistance strategies that aim to encourage ownership by recipients offer the hope of increased financial support to global development. But the nature of the new aid architecture makes it more difficult to ensure that specific interventions such as family planning are prioritized and remain funded at adequate levels.

Large amounts of money have been reserved for high-profile diseases such as HIV and malaria. Donors have adopted financing mechanisms that emphasize a holistic health systems approach. These mechanisms will better enable donors to follow aid effectiveness protocols but pose challenges to family planning. The new aid architecture makes it more difficult to ensure that interventions such as family planning are funded at adequate levels. Even less is known about the effectiveness of options such as an airline tax to finance the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, debt buy-downs and financing facilities. Those in the family planning field can participate now and help ensure that family planning programs benefit from future returns. doclink

Malaysia: Poor Nations Urged to Cast Away Outdated Religious Tenets to Improve Women's Lot

May 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. doclink

Angola: Families Living Standards Improved - UNPF Director

July 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. doclink

The United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA)

Controversy Shadows UN Population Meeting

April 29, 2013, International Development

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.

Member states from South Asia and some Arab nations like Qatar, as well as Nigeria and the Vatican, opposed the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health language in a consensus agreement. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I found the coverage of this meeting sparse and confusing. I welcome any better explanation of what happened at this meeting.

Support the UNFPA

July 31, 2012, Friends of UNFPA

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. Your support today will help improve and save lives in the 150 countries around the world where UNFPA operates. doclink

Family Planning Summit Could Mark Turning Point for Maternal Health

June 07, 2012, Mail and Guardian

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. doclink

House Foreign Affairs Committee Votes to Defund UNFPA

October 06, 2011, Ms Magazine

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. doclink

According to Engenderhealth: Democrats on the committee offered various amendments to allow U.S. money to UNFPA to be directed to specific programs, such as ending child marriage and female genital mutilation, preventing and repairing obstetric fistula, and providing safe birth kits to pregnant women following a natural disaster, but these were turned down by the Republicans.

Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Religion and Women's Rights: An Interview with Thoraya Obaid

Huffington Post

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. doclink

Family Planning and the Path to Progress

January 24, 2009, New York Times*

Obama pledged to restore the money while signing an order reversing a move by Bush that banned American government aid for family-planning organizations that, promoted or conducted abortions.

Sixty percent of people living in poverty are women. Two-thirds of the 960 million illiterate adults are women. Seventy percent of children out of school are girls. Women are the givers and keepers of life.

A cofounder of Friends of the UNFPA, was elated to see the Global Gag Rule gone and to see President Obama's statement of support. As of 2009, our movement, (begun in 2002 when the Bush Administration refused to release $34 million) asking at least one dollar from 34 million Americans, has garnered $4,000,000.

The money has permitted UNFPA to increase its support for family planning, to train doctors and midwives, save women's lives in childbirth, repair obstetric fistulas, discouraged forced early marriage, and to educate adolescents about AIDS.

By 2050 the world's population is expected to rise to nine billion people, all of whom will be seeking food, water, and other resources. This growth in population will exacerbate every environmental and humanitarian crisis we face today. Gender inequality is at the base of population and environmental issues. Hillary Clinton stated: Of particular concern is the plight of women and girls who comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid.

UNFPA offers the family planning that allows women to choose if and when have children. In the world there is a vast unmet demand for family planning, that can mitigate the worst of humanitarian and environmental crises. doclink

UN Official Urges More Investment, Efforts on Issues of Population Amid Financial Crisis

March 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.

Established in 1946, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) is an international agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. doclink

President Bush's Appeal to Religious Fundamentalists

June 25, 2007, Population Institute

Opposition to abortion is a cornerstone of the Bush administration. The President blocks funds for UNFPA, the international agency that has prevented more abortions than any other policy.

Congress votes to contribute U.S. funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the but when these bills reach President Bush's desk, they die, because China is one of the more than 100 countries in which UNFPA operates.

President Bush is convinced, as were conservative Presidents before him, that China's national family planning program is driven by forced abortion and coercive sterilization. The Chinese government has denied this allegation for more than 20 years. China, the world's most populous country, employs draconian measures to put the brakes on further population growth. These have included reducing food rations, reducing living space and denying school choice to parents who have children beyond a couple's first child.

It has not been resolved, however, whether the Chinese government is perpetrating coercion. Beyond the moral repugnance of government dictating bedroom decisions, it is a strategy that is unnecessary and likely unworkable. Studies indicate that when couples have access to family planning information, education and supplies, they choose to limit their family size.

To correct the administration's policy, a bill in the House of Representatives calling for a $34 million fiscal year 2008 appropriation to UNFPA, would ensure detailed presidential accountability for refusing to release these congressionally appropriated funds.

In the 32 Chinese counties that receive UNFPA assistance, not only have maternal deaths declined, but abortions have decreased from 24 per 1,000 women to 10 per 1,000 women. doclink

US Foreign Funding for Family Planning, USAID

This U.S. Law Contributes to Women's Deaths Around the World

May 26, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Alissa Scheller

The Helms Amendment, which passed in 1973 - more than 40 years ago, prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortion as "a method of family planning" or "to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." in 1994 Congress passed legislation to clarify that women in countries receiving aid could be counseled on all pregnancy options, including abortion. However, the Helms Amendment still inhibits funding to family planning agencies.

According to Al Jazeera, in Ethiopia, "a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied the abortion care that is legal in her own country, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care." More than 100 women die each day from complications of unsafe abortions. These deaths often occur in poor countries that receive aid from the U.S. for other medical treatments.

U.S. anti-abortion rules endanger women around the world. WHO studies show that where women can access safe abortions, fewer women have unsafe abortions, and a study in Nepal showed that legalizing abortion cut the maternal mortality rate in half. doclink

Just the Numbers: the Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

June 15 , 2014, Guttmacher Institute

For over 45 years the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a major provider of contraceptive services to the world's poorest people. Helping poor women and families gain control over childbearing choices means fewer unintended, unwanted, and/or risky pregnancies. It also reduces the motive for wanting abortions, which poor people often resort to under unsafe conditions. Planned birth spacing contributes to healthier mothers, babies and families. Having affordable numbers of children improves prosperity for families, communities, and nations. For FY 2014, USAID has allocated $610 million to assist family planning and reproductive health programs, of which $35 million is designated for the UN Population Fund.

This modest funding level is enough to:

• Provide contraceptive services and supplies to 31 million women or couples;

• Avert 7 million unintended pregnancies and 3 million induced abortions;

• Avert 13,000 maternal deaths, meaning that 60,000 fewer children will lose their mothers.

These gains are seriously jeopardized when program funding gets targeted for budget cuts . For example, each $10 million decrease in USAID international family planning and reproductive health assistance:

• Reduces the number receiving contraceptive services and supplies by 520,000;

• Results in 110,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 50,000 more unplanned births;

• Results in 50,000 more mostly unsafe abortions and 200 maternal deaths affecting 900 children. doclink

House GOP Again Targets Birth Control

June 19, 2014, Population Connection   By: Brian Dixon

The House bill would slash funding for family planning programs in the developing world where there are already a quarter billion women who want to prevent or delay pregnancy but have no access to affordable, appropriate birth control. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who chairs the subcommittee that wrote the bill and who calls herself a supporter of family planning, is proposing a 25% cut in overall funding that would help women in the poorest countries take control of their own lives and futures.

The bill would also ban any aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its work to expand access to birth control, to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to eliminate female genital mutilation, to ensure access to basic reproductive health care to women in emergency situations, to end the practice of child marriage, and to eliminate coercive practices in China.

Granger's bill also calls for a reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, one of the most misguided policies ever created. It bans family planning aid to foreign health care agencies that use other, private funding to provide legal abortion, or to offer counselling or referrals on legal abortion, or that publicly support a policy of legal abortion within their own countries. It effectively disqualifies the most effective, experienced, and respected family planning providers in the developing world from receiving U.S. aid.

The same bill would block U.S. funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We'll be working hard to make sure that this bill never becomes law. Please join us in that fight. Click on the link in the headline to send a Thank You note to Senator Jeanne Shaheen for sponsoring a bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. doclink

Providing Family Planning - Supply Or Demand (pdf)

May 01 , 2014, WOA website   By: Art Elphick

With the current emphasis on voluntary family planning (FP), FP fund raisers focus largely on the over 200 million women who live in places where affordable FP is still unavailable. Their ads imply that if you provide it, they will come. Just help the sponsors service the unmet demand.

But this message oversimplifies the problem. Large and growing families often live where local clinics offer affordable contraceptives, yet they either don't use them or use them and still have large families. Often young people are steered away from FP services, or not told about them, and they wind up bearing children while they are still children themselves. The problem often stems not from a lack of supply, but rather from a lack of demand for FP services. Unless health care workers view large families as a problem, they may only offer service on demand, and they may not even use the services themselves. It is embarrassing enough to talk about sex when clients ask questions, so they would not discuss it unless clients ask.

Many FP advocates know that low demand is more of a problem than low supply, and that an effective FP program must include quality outreach services. Outreach services come in different forms to best fit the needs of the communities they serve. This report has documented several outreach programs that have proved effective in making people understand the benefits of using available FP services.

Click here - or on the headline above - to see the report "Barriers and Solutions to Family Planning Resistance". doclink

Worth the Wait: President's Fy 2015 Budget Request for Family Planning and Reproductive Health

April 21, 2014, Population Action International

Six weeks after posting its general initial budget, the Obama Administration released the details of its FY-2015 request for international family planning (FP) and reproductive health (RH) programs. Its call for $644.3 million is $34.3 million -- nearly 6% -- higher than the current appropriated level enacted in January. It allocates $538 million to the Global Health Programs account, $71 million to Economic Support Funds, and $35.3 million as the U.S. contribution to the UN's Population Fund. At a time of increasing budgetary pressures, these requested increases suggest strong administration support for FP/RH programs.

Nevertheless, this proposal remains lower than the $669.5 million the Senate Appropriations Committee approved in FY 2014—a level of funding endorsed by 124 House members and 24 Senators in letters to their respective Appropriations Committee colleagues earlier this month. It also falls far short of the $1 billion that is the U.S. fair share of total global expenditures required to address the unmet need of 222 million women in the developing world who want FP services where they are not yet available.

Of course, now that Congress has received the budget request, it still must decide over the next several months whether to grant the requested amounts or continue underfunding these urgent projects at current levels. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 8 billion is needed. $4 billion has already been supplied. That leaves $3.4 billion to meet the unmet need of 222 million women for access to -- and accurate information about -- affordable effective contraception.

Fund World Family Planning with One Game's Worth of Snacks

February 2014   By: Bonnie Tillery, Population Issues Coordinator for the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club

Ad Week reported that, in 2012, we spent $1.02 billion on snacks while watching the Super Bowl. This year, the National Retail Federation estimated viewers' total spending for the Super Bowl was up from that 2012 figure. The Latin Times noted on Jan 29, that the day of the big game is the second-biggest day for eating, after Thanksgiving, with the average fan eating 1,200 calories just in snacks. This does not include the other three meals of the day.

Meanwhile, the United States' fair share contribution for international family planning is $1 billion. This would allow women around the world to voluntarily decide for themselves when and if they want to have children, and to space those children for healthier outcomes.

We could solve a humanitarian challenge and help curb the U.S. epidemic of obesity just by diverting those $1.02 billion-plus spent on snacks to a $1 billion contribution for family planning. This solution to two challenges we face is also good for the environment. When women are able to voluntarily decide the size of their families, they generally choose smaller families, leading to less demand for environmental resources. doclink

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.
(2) Blog.psiimpact.com/2013/06/how-much-it-will-cost-the-us-to-invest-in-global-family-planning
(3) “Popping the Pill's Bubble," The American Prospect, Oct 23, 2013.
(4) Weisman, Alan, Countdown, p. 431.
(5) “Deseret News," Salt Lake City, 2/7/2013 doclink

The Budget Myth That Just Won't Die: Americans Still Think 28 Percent of the Budget Goes to Foreign Aid

November 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. doclink

Legislative Updates, Alerts

Representatives Call for Family Planning Support

December 10, 2010, Population Connection

85 members of the U.S. House of Representatives urge the President to provide significant increases for family planning programs around the world and in the United States when he submits his budget to Congress. Click the link to see if your representative signed the letter. doclink

U.S.: Legislative Alert : Proposed Foreign Assistance Cut Imperils International Family Planning

May 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." doclink

House Vote on Major Family Planning Bill

April 25, 2003, Patrick Burns

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. doclink

Budget Cuts for International Family Planning Programs, Millennium Challenge Account, HIV/AIDS Threatened

May 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
FY2004 International Affairs Budget. This includes resources for important international family planning programs as well as for the President's new
initiatives on the Millennium Challenge Account and HIV/AIDS. For details on how you can help, click on the title of this article above. doclink

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. doclink

U.S.: State Facts About Unintended Pregnancy

December 19, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

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." doclink

Karen Gaia says: Sounds like a very useful tool for activists to use when having a conversation with their legislators.

Is your lawmaker -
  • For US foreign funding of family planning clinics ask if your lawmaker will co-sponsor a bill funding family planning
  • Against family planning -
    point out that many of his constituents are using family planning and wouldn't he want the same for the poor families in other countries.
  • Doesn't think overpopulation is a problem - Give him facts and figures about population and tell him about the worldwide impacts or point out the economic benefits of limiting family size. Explain that, while birth rates are falling, they are not falling fast enough, and the number of women of childbearing age is at an all-time high.
  • Against abortion - Check out the subject at and tell him that family planning prevents abortions.
doclink

Calling Your Lawmaker is Also Very Effective.

Members of Congress Telephone Directory
Members of the Senate Telephone Directory
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. doclink

Advocate Toolkit

  • Thomas Legislative Information - Information on Legislators and Bills

  • Why Population Matters

  • Republicans for Environmental Protection

  • Comment on California Legislation

  • Sample letter asking for foreign aid funding for family planning ... send one like it to your representative!!!


  • A personal letter sent by mail is usually the most effective way to impact your lawmakers.
    Address your letter as follows:
    To a Senator: The Honorable (full name) United States Senate
    Washington, DC 20510
    To a Representative: The Honorable (full name) United States House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
    doclink

    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. doclink

    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).

    Sincerely, ... doclink

    14 Steps to An Effective Visit with Your Legislator

    Population Connection

    1. Dress nicely but comfortably.
    2. Introduce yourself and where you are from (city, neighborhood, organizations, affiliation.) Make a connection to their district.
    3. Lead with an appreciation-Thanks for meeting with me. Thanks for your vote on XX.
    4. State clearly and concisely: your issue and your position on the issue;-What you want him/her to do?
    5. Stress how the issue will affect the member's district or state.
    6. Give the legislator a brief fact sheet.
    7. Mention other organizations, important individuals, government officials, &/or legislators that support your position.
    8. Be a good listener. Be ready to write down what happened immediately after the meeting.
    9. Answer questions, but if you don't know the answer tell them you will find out and get back to them.
    10. Ask a direct question to which the legislator can respond "YES" such as "Can we count on you to co-sponsor the bill?"
    11. Thank the legislator for his/her time and find out the names and titles of any aides working on the issue.
    12. Always follow up with a prompt thank you letter.
    13. When appropriate, report back to coalition groups, friends, the press and others about your meeting.
    14. ENJOY YOURSELF! YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
    doclink

    US Funding History

    The Future of Population Funding in the U.S.: Mixed Prospects for Foundation Support

    May 15 , 2014, New Security Beat   By: Laurie Mazur

    While world population will rise to between 8 and 11 billion by 2050, private funding for population and Family Planning (FP) programs keeps falling. The Funders Network (FN) on Population, Reproductive Health, and Rights said that in 2000 U.S. foundations spent $96 million on population-related initiatives, but by 2012, funding from the donors in its data bank fell below $7 million. Some new entrants to the field, e.g., Bloomberg Philanthropies, did not get counted, and some grants that aid population initiatives may now fall under other titles. The Gates Foundation and one anonymous donor together accounted for 74% of the population and reproductive health-related funds in the FN database in 2012. All other foundation support is near its lowest level since the FN began collecting data in 1999. This drop-off in funding reflects a sea change in support for FP and reproductive health programs.

    Opponents of population programs have targeted abuses, so the field now focuses less on birthrates and more on health and rights. World governments endorsed that change at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and even those who worry most about population growth have embraced it.

    The Cairo paradigm has reduced abuses in FP programs, but it now makes little reference to slowing population growth or protecting the environment, and that may be hindering foundation support for all areas of reproductive health. The FP movement addressed the fear of dire consequences if population growth goes unchecked, and "it was fear of population growth that moved the money," said Peter Belden, a former program officer in the Global Development and Population Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. As contraceptives became widely available and fertility rates dropped, many pronounced the problem solved, and several large donors left the field. Belden said that "People think the unchecked population growth problem has been solved," but the problems have not gone away. While fertility rates are down globally, high rates persist in many of the world's most impoverished countries, guaranteeing high population growth in places that can least meet the needs of swelling populations.

    Follow the link in the headline for more on this subject doclink

    Art says: As for government spending on these programs, Reagan and the Hyde Amendment drove it down, but the Obama presidency has halted the decline.

    Karen Gaia says, Regan and every Republican president since have driven down government FP/RH spending while Democrats have pushed it up. However, with the conservative climate in the legislature, it may be more difficult this time.

    Both the Hyde Amendment and the Global Gag Rule has put a cold chill on the activities of NGOs even if abortion is/was not part of their services.

    Religious Extremism Cloaked in Diplomacy

    October 2012   By: Kim Puchir

    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.

    It's hard to justify Pope Paul VI's eloquence before the General Assembly in 1965—when he said that as representative of the Holy See he was at the United Nations as an "expert in humanity." doclink

    U.S.;: House Challenges Global Gag Rule

    January 25, 2007, Ms. Magazine

    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. doclink

    Why are Population and Development Issues not Given Priority?

    April 2005, Asia-Pacific Population Journal

    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. doclink

    A Bit of Good News on Foreign Aid

    March 26, 2003, Patrick Burns

    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. doclink

    The Mexico City Policy aka Global Gag Rule

    30 Years is Enough: End the Global Gag Rule

    June 07 , 2014, Population Action International

    doclink

    Senate Committee Approves Permanent Ban on Global Gag Rule

    July 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.

    The amendment has not yet come before the full Senate. doclink

    Obama's "Population" Moves: Also Good for the Environment

    February 26, 2009, RH Reality Check

    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.

    President Obama has given a sign that America recognizes its responsibility to lead the world in achieving a population-environmental balance. doclink

    Religious Left's Wrong-Minded Appeal on Global Gag Rule

    January 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.

    The religious left is not helpful to anyone by perpetuating these false ideas. doclink

    Top 5 Actions for the New Administration to Ensure Sexual and Reproductive Health

    December 2008, EngenderHealth

    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.

    Obama has said that he intends to overturn this disastrous policy. doclink

    Global Gag Rule: Just Repeal it

    December 12, 2008, Reality Check

    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. doclink

    What Obama Should Do for Women

    November 20, 2008, Alternet.org

    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. doclink

    UN Predicts 12 Billion if Family Planning Falters

    July 14, 2008, InterPress Service

    The UN claims that an estimated 200 million women want to delay or avoid pregnancy but are not using family planning.

    The current population of 6.4 billion people is expected to rise to over 7.0 billion by 2012 -- and could reach 12 billion by 2050, if contraceptive use does not increase.

    UNFPA says that 190 million women become pregnant every year, and nearly 50 million resort to abortion. Unsafe abortions kill an estimated 68,000 women every year. The benefits of family planning remain out of reach for many. Demand will increase, as more than one billion people 15-24 enter their reproductive years.

    Maternal deaths could be reduced if every woman had access to health services, specially during pregnancy and childbirth.

    The impact of the US withholding funding from UNFPA has had serious implications for women and girls. About 181 industrialised and developing countries, contribute to UNFPA.

    The top 10 donors for UNFPA in 2007 were: the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Britain, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Spain and Canada.

    The administration has cited UNFPA's programme in China, falsely accusing the agency of providing resources for abortions and sterilisations. UNFPA has denied the charges.

    Americans for UNFPA is poised to urge the next administration to fund UNFPA, and begin to make up for the 235 million dollars withheld since 2002.

    The UN MDGs are agreed upon to reduce poverty and improve the well-being of the world's population by 2015.

    Advancement has stalled on MDG5, which aims to improve maternal health, including reproductive health.

    Demand for contraceptives is expected to grow by 40% during the next 15 years. doclink

    Family Planning Prevents Abortions!

    Fix the Helms Amendment

    June 17 , 2014, Population Connection

    The Helms Amendment bars the use of U.S. foreign aid for "abortion as a method of family planning." Although the law clearly indicates that funding is allowed under some circumstances, for decades our government has treated the amendment as a blanket ban. In fact, the law has been enforced so strictly that health care providers cannot use U.S. funds even to purchase equipment to treat women suffering the consequences of unsafe abortions. The end result is that women who have been raped and those whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies often find little help in clinics that receive U.S. funding. The Helms Amendment shows little concern for what women struggling with unwanted pregnancies in the developing world face.

    In today's political climate we should not expect an outright repeal of the Helms Amendment, although it offers no benefit to foreign policy or global health. However, the Obama administration can clarify misinterpretations of the law without Congress having to change the law. Instead of a new law, he just needs to clarify what the current law actually says. President Obama has the authority to bring our overseas abortion policy in line with domestic abortion funding restrictions and with American public opinion. doclink

    Florida Governor Signs Bill Further Restricting Later Abortions

    June 16, 2014, RH Reality Check and MoveOn.org   By: Teddy Wilson

    Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law Friday that places additional restrictions on abortions performed in the third trimester, and bans abortions at any point in a pregnancy if a doctor determines the fetus could survive outside the pregnant person's body.

    HB 1047 passed the state legislature mostly along party lines.

    Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), said the law places unnecessary restrictions on women's access to later abortion care, without taking into consideration the woman's unique and complex circumstances. doclink

    Women in These 16 States Face An Additional Obstacle to Getting An Abortion

    November 5, 2013, Huffington Post   By: Katy Hall and Alissa Scheller

    medical abortion infographic

    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.

    Laws restricting medical abortions are just one way that state legislatures across the country have worked in recent years to make abortions more unpleasant, expensive and drawn out. doclink

    Spurious Science Triumphs as U.S. Court Upholds South Dakota "Suicide Advisory" Law

    Guttmacher Institute

    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. doclink

    Sen. Boxer Focuses on Abortion Rights in Calif. Race

    August 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. doclink

    US South Carolina;: Abortion Ultrasound Bill Likely to Change; Senate Passage Expected - with Exemptions for Rape, Incest Victims

    March 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." doclink

    Japan Donates 2 Million for Poor Areas in Peru

    November 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%.

    The project will support training for health workers and raise awareness about nutrition, obstetrical treatment and reproductive health. doclink

    U.S.: The Battle to Ban Birth Control

    March 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. doclink

    see www.population-awareness.net/abortion.html

    Related Foreign Aid: Development, Disease Treatment and Prevention, Microcredit

    U.K.: MEPs (Members of European Parliment) Must Support Aid for Population Assistance

    April 28, 2014, Population Matters

    Only by promoting smaller families can we avoid dramatic population increases in the poorest countries.

    Population Matters chief executive Simon Ross commented, "To end aid dependency, we must tackle population growth in the poorest countries. We call on those standing in the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament to commit themselves, if elected, to supporting the maintenance and increase in aid for population assistance and family planning."

    The biggest driver of the scale of future aid dependency, together with climate change, is population growth. The UN estimates that the population of Africa alone will rise from one billion in 2010 to more than four billion by 2100. This will put enormous pressure on resources of all kinds. Emerging services, from health and education to transport and housing, will struggle to cope. One could question whether there will be sufficient employment opportunities to meet demand, while the challenge of supporting this population can only divert the resources required for social and economic development. Such population growth will also be a contributor to increased migratory pressure on Europe's borders.

    Yet the EU, while increasing spending on reproductive health and family planning, often as part of wider health system strengthening, still spends relatively little in this area. The European Parliament and Commission have designated 2015 the European Year for Development. The EU is the world's biggest multilateral donor and the third biggest donor after the US and UK, spending over nine billion euros per annum in bilateral aid. Of this, the EU spends around 90 million euros (1 per cent) on population assistance.

    Of course, reproductive health is not just about lowering unsustainable birth rates. Reproductive health conditions are the leading cause of death and illness in women of reproductive age worldwide. For this reason, too, reproductive health has a claim to our attention and support.

    There are those who oppose support for family planning on the basis that some of it might go to providing abortion services. However, the best way to lower the rate of abortion is to improve the provision of family planning, not to cut it. Countries in which abortion is illegal often have a higher termination rate than those in which abortion is permitted. A safe and legal abortion is much better than an unsafe and illegal one. Also, it is hardly appropriate for those in the EU, where abortion is generally available, to seek to limit access to abortion elsewhere.

    We welcome the EU's verbal and financial commitment to reproductive health and family planning and call on those standing as MEPs to support that commitment and to improve on it if elected.

    Notes

    Reproductive health conditions — including HIV / AIDS — are the leading cause of death and illness in women of reproductive age worldwide, and the second leading cause of death and illness when both men and women are taken into account.

    More than 60 per cent of couples in less-developed countries used family planning services in 2006. Only 10 per cent did in 1960.

    In 2010, 215 million women wished to avoid or postpone pregnancy but were not using modern contraceptives.

    An estimated 250 million years of productive life are lost every year worldwide as a result of reproductive health problems. The poor disproportionately bear the consequences of poor reproductive health -- especially impoverished women and young people. doclink

    Population Growth Undermines Aid Effectiveness

    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." doclink

    Development Aid Falls Short, While Other Financial Flows Show Rising Volatility

    September 12 , 2013, World Watch Institute

    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.

    Click on the link in the headline to read the report doclink

    Karen Gaia says: probably due to the recession, and, alas, we may never recover due to a declining energy supply.

    The Gamble on Global Women's Rights - the 2012 U.S. Elections

    October 25 , 2012   By: Suzanne York

    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. doclink

    New Report: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa

    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

    The full report is also available here (PDF): ##http://www.publiceye.org/Reports/Colonizing_African_Values/Pdfs/Colonizing.African.Values.PRA.pdf doclink

    U.S.: Congress Debates Legislation to Prevent Child Marriage

    August 4, 2010

    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.

    The Population Institute has sent letters to both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging them to take action on the legislation. doclink

    Canada: Planned Parenthood Gets Silent Treatment From Ottawa

    May 13, 2010, The Star (Canada)

    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. doclink

    U.K.: Funding Contraception Saves Lives and Money, Leading Experts Report

    March 25, 2010, The Canadian Press

    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.

    Some pro-life MPs felt uncomfortable with the wording because they felt it might encompass abortion services. doclink

    US Funding for Domestic Family Planning

    Satanists Demand Religious Exemption From Abortion Restrictions, Cite Hobby Lobby Ruling

    July 28, 2014, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

    Much debate has been made over the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court' allowed some for-profit companies to claim a religious exemption to Obamacare's contraception mandate.

    An interesting point of is held by the Satanic Temple, a faith community that describes itself as facilitating "the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty".

    The Satanic Temple has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy.

    The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level "informed consent" laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.

    “Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state­ mandated ‘informational' material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them," said a spokesperson for the organization.

    The Satanic Temple first made national headlines when members rallied in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott for approving a bill that allows prayer in public schools, saying they're glad the new policy will allow children to pray to Satan.

    “Informed consent" laws, which typically require women to receive biased counseling before being allowed to proceed with an abortion procedure, are now in place in 35 states. Many of those laws require doctors to tell their patients misleading information about abortion's potential link to mental health issues and breast cancer. Some of them put words directly in doctors' mouths, forcing them to refer to the fetus as an “whole, separate, unique, living human being."

    All women who share their belief in medical accuracy are encouraging to seek their own exemption from these laws, even if they don't personally identify as Satanists. “Right to Accurate Medical Information" t-shirts are available for purchase. doclink

    The Crusade Against Reproductive Rights

    July 18, 2014, Moyers & Company

    Note: this is a summary of the Bill Moyers interview with Cecile Richards. For the complete article, click on the link in the headline or watch the video.

    BILL MOYERS (M): In the 40-plus years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, conservatives and the religious right have tried to overturn it. Several states have effectively restricted access to safe, legal clinics. More than half the American women of reproductive age now live in states hostile to abortion access.

    NANCY NORTHRUP: During those four decades, there have been terrorizing physical attacks, clinics bombed, vandalized and torched, doctors and clinic workers murdered, and clinics blockaded. … States are passing laws that single out reproductive health providers for excessively burdensome regulations ….

    M:..Since Cecile Richards became president of the Planned Parenthood Federation in 2006, the number of its supporters doubled to seven million. Cecile, An impartial observer … could conclude that you're losing the political battle over abortion.

    CECILE RICHARDS (R): … "The Tea Party swept into the U.S. House of Representatives and took over state legislatures (with) a very clear agenda … to roll back women's access. But whenever these issues are actually on the ballot," for example in Mississippi, where "the far right tried to push … a bill that would've outlawed abortion in that state. The voters of Mississippi …. overwhelmingly rejected that. … I do think the state legislatures have moved dramatically to the right." … Unfortunately, an extreme wing of the Republican Party seems to be in charge of the primary process."

    M: "Is it conceivable to you that your opponents have … convinced enough people in conservative circles that abortion is morally wrong, leaving politicians that you talk about no choice but to go where the voters lead?"

    R: … “We at Planned Parenthood talk to voters a lot, talk to the public a lot. People in this country believe that abortion is a very personal and often complex issue. … The last thing they want is politicians making the most personal decisions for a family." Across party lines, “young people in this country can't imagine going back to a time where abortion was illegal and not available."

    M: 68% of young Americans believe abortion services should be available where they live. Why doesn't that translate into political success?

    R: … In the last presidential election Mitt Romney wanted to overturn Roe and get rid of Planned Parenthood, while President Obama strongly supported women's rights. “We had the biggest gender gap ever in polling in a presidential election." And in the Virginia governor's race, Terry McAuliffe supported women's access to birth control and Planned Parenthood, while Ken Cuccinelli, the sitting attorney general, opposed basically all of women's rights. ... Women decided that election. “ There was a nine point gender gap for Terry McAuliffe." … Women can determine pretty much any election in the country.

    M: Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to make abortion, “a thing of the past."

    R: … “He's making safe and legal abortion a thing of the past". … These regulations fall disproportionately on low income and rural women. … “Women now go across the border to Mexico because they can't access legal abortion in the state of Texas." …

    When the governor and legislature ended the women's health program, “dozens of health centers that didn't provide abortion services had to shut down because they served low income women and they didn't have the funds to continue. … Women (are) trying to figure out how to get around the country because there are increasingly states where you may have a legal right to an abortion, but effectively you have no access.… The impact is certainly on the ability to access abortion services, but it also has been devastating on women's ability to even access family planning and basic preventive care. … State legislatures are hollowing out the rights under Roe in every conceivable way," and this court has been more sympathetic to those efforts _ not only to safe and legal abortion, but to birth control as well.

    M: “Do you think that Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) that was debated this week could undo some of the damage being caused by this onslaught of regulations?"

    R: Absolutely. … Essentially the WHPA says you have to treat women's reproductive health care and abortion access like you do all other medical procedures.…99% of women in this country use family planning." … and 98% of Catholic women have used it at some point. “So for women, birth control is not a moral issue. It's not a social issue. It is a basic healthcare issue. It's an economic issue." And women, men, the majority of this country supports Roe. I guarantee they don't want politicians making their most personal, private decisions.

    M: “What is your response to what some of your opponents say that abortion … needs higher medical standards? Is there any merit in that argument?"

    R: "Absolutely none. … Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. … I talk to doctors who were around pre-Roe who said, you know, routinely young healthy women were dying in emergency rooms across this country simply because they had no access to terminate a pregnancy in a medical setting." … Abortion opponents claim they're for women's health and safety, but they're not. …

    M: … Why can't hospitals start taking up the slack?

    R: …"Many of the hospitals in this country now are owned by the Catholic Church or have Catholic affiliation. They not only will not provide abortion services, they will not provide a whole host of reproductive healthcare." We need a public health care system that “will ensure that women can get access to the care that they need regardless of religion. And that is becoming increasingly a problem .. across the country."

    M: … The Hobby Lobby decision says, in effect, that … Capital has religious rights, labor doesn't. Where's this going to take us?"

    R: … “ I was actually there for the Hobby Lobby argument, and it was stunning to see the lack of regard for women." But from that and other decisions, it seems “better to be a corporation today than to be a woman in front of the Supreme Court. … How could the rights of one CEO … trump the right of thousands of women to make their own decision?" … “The future and the healthcare of millions of women are at stake." … When Congress passed this law, the Supreme Court overstepped their bounds. …

    M: Have we opened another stage in the old debate … over religious liberties?

    R: … “We believe in religious liberties, but not the right to … enforce your religion, your religious beliefs on someone else. … When they heard that the Supreme Court had said that there were women who couldn't get birth control from their employer, I think people were just in shock. … It's 2014 and we are still arguing about women being able to access birth control? It just doesn't make sense. Again, you have every woman in the country virtually using it. They don't see this as a controversial issue."

    M: … “How do you explain the passion that enters into this debate?"

    R: … Toleration of extremist remarks from people and some elected officials invites people to put women and doctors in a certain place. “The Massachusetts buffer zone was passed" … because “women and doctors and clinicians were under enormous personal safety risks. And—“

    M: “The two people were murdered there. … Have you received any death threats?"

    R: … “I don't fear for myself. But I take very seriously the safety of our doctors and our clinicians and our patients. And that's foremost in my mind all the time." doclink

    U.S.: As Lepage Vetoes Family Planning Bill, Cost of Teen Births in Maine Pegged at $18 Million

    April 29 , 2014, Bangor Daily News   By: Jackie Farwell

    Analysis by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy showed that teen births cost Maine taxpayers at least $18 million in 2010. This was announced just hours after Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill aimed at reducing unintended pregnancies among low-income women.

    Between 1991 and 2010, 25,713 teen births occurred in Maine, costing state taxpayers $600 million over those two decades.

    The good news is that Maine has seen a substantial decline in its teen birth rate, dropping 51% over the last two decades, and saving Maine taxpayers an estimated $36 million in 2010 alone.

    Nationally, the teen birth rate has hit a historic low, dropping 52% by 2012 from a peak year in 1991.

    The public costs associated with teen childbearing involved health care through Medicaid and CHIP programs, increased participation in child welfare, and, once those babies grow up, higher rates of incarceration and lost tax revenue due to lower earnings and spending, according to the campaign.

    Nationally, teen childbearing cost taxpayers $9.4 billion in 2010, the campaign found.

    The analysis was funded in part by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Maine's success in lowering its teen birth rate grew out of broad access to comprehensive reproductive health services and the teaching of age-appropriate sex education in schools, said Nicole Clegg, of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

    But family planning funds have been cut over the last three years, and on Monday the governor vetoed bipartisan legislation to provide publicly funded preventive health care to low-income adults, including birth control and sexual health information, she said.

    The bill would have benefited 13,700 low-income women through a limited expansion of the Medicaid program, and would have included access to cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and testing and treatment for STDs. For every $1 the state spent, the federal government would have kicked in $9.

    Other states with similar programs have seen significant drops in unintended pregnancies and related costs, according to research by the Guttmacher Institute. Over the last 15 years, more than 20 states received federal approval for such programs, with more exploring the option under a provision of the 2010 federal health reform law that simplifies the process.

    The measure is scheduled for an override vote in the Legislature on Thursday.

    In his veto message, LePage said many of the individuals who would gain access to coverage under the bill -- those earning up to two times the federal poverty level -- could buy subsidized health insurance through the federal marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act.

    "For those individuals who intend to make less than 100 percent of federal poverty level and therefore do not qualify for subsidized private insurance, family planning and health clinics across the state often already charge on a sliding scale, which they indicate is affordable for their clients," LePage said in his veto letter. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: According to Maine Family Planning, "Governor LePage vetoed the bill as part of a record breaking veto spree."

    At Any Cost: How Catholic Bishops Pushed for a Shutdown - and Even a Default - Over Birth Control

    October 6, 2013, RH Reality Check   By: Adele M. Stan

    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. doclink

    News on U.S. Women's Health and Politics

    June 10, 2013


    • Christie Out of Touch with Women

      Today, Chris Christie is keynoting the Governor's Conference For Women in Trenton. Perhaps he should do more listening and less talking. Because while folks might say that Christie is a fighter, he's made it painfully clear he's not fighting for New Jersey's women. In fact, he's the one holding them back when it comes to both their health and fiscal well-being. There's nothing moderate about the extreme, right-wing, anti-woman ag... June 3, 2013, PolitickerNJ


    • U.S.: Failed Virginia Bill on Miscarriages Reveals Ignorance About Women's Health

      The bill was unanimously voted down by the Virginia State Senate after women's health advocates made it clear that the bill would place an enormous emotional burden on women. While searching through the legislative history of Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain, now running on the Republican ticket for his state's attorney general position, reporters found that he had authored a bill in 2009 that would have required all women in Virginia to report... May 22, 2013, Age


    • Judge Blocks Arkansas' Tough New Abortion Law

      A federal judge barred Arkansas from implementing one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws Friday, calling it "more than likely unconstitutional." The law, which the Legislature enacted over Gov. Mike Beebe's veto in March, makes abortions illegal after only 12 weeks of pregnancy. It's scheduled to take effect in August. At a hearing Friday in Little Rock, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright granted a temporary injunction sought b... May 17, 2013, Nbcnews.com

    doclink

    U.S.: Texas Women's Health Coalition Awarded Control of Federal Family Planning Dollars

    March 26, 2013, RH Reality Check   By: Sarah Kliff

    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. doclink

    U.S.: Poll: Americans See Population's Connection to Environmental Problems

    March 15, 2013, Center for Biological Diversity

    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.

    This story was covered by Ken Weiss of the Los Angeles Times. doclink

    U.S.: They're at it Again, and it's Up to Us to Stop Them. Again.

    March 06 , 2013, Planned Parenthood Action Fund

    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. doclink

    Title X

    U.S.: Cutting Title X Family Planning in the Sequester Hurts Women’s Reproductive Health

    February 28, 2013, Center for American Progress

    Title X could be cut by $15 million in fiscal year 2013 by the Sequestration. The program has already been cut by more than $23 million over the past two fiscal years -- limiting access to family-planning services and causing clinics to cut back on staff and hours.

    Title X has served primarily low-income women for over 40 years, providing a range of services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings; Pap smear tests; prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections; HIV testing, prevention, and counseling; infertility services; and health care referrals. 60% of women who visit Title X clinics consider them a primary source of health care.

    25% of all poor women who obtain contraceptive services in the U.S. do so at a Title X-supported center. 91% of all Title X clients earn less than $28,000 a year.

    Millions of women prevent unintended pregnancies with the help of Title X, preventing the negative health, social, and economic outcomes for women and their children associated with unplanned pregnancies. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and the number is 69% for women between the ages of 20 and 29, and nearly half of unplanned pregnancies for the same age group are experienced by women living below 100% of the federal poverty line. It is estimated that overall.

    Levels of unintended pregnancy would be an estimated one-third higher without the services provided through Title X-supported centers. Every $1 invested in family-planning care averts nearly $4 in Medicaid expenditures. The public cost of unintended pregnancies is estimated at $11 billion a year, which would be even higher without Title X funding, which prevents more than 900,000 unintended pregnancies each year.

    Because Title X funding is flexible and can be offered to a diverse range of grantees, the program has effectively partnered with other public and private entities to create a vast network of reproductive health providers in every state, which benefits all women regardless of income by providing facilities where they can go to receive high-quality and specialized reproductive health care. As of 2011 there were more than 4,000 providers receiving Title X funds in the United States.

    Cutting Title X's cost-effective and crucial health service for women is more likely to hurt the country's financial prospects than improve them. It's a perfect example of why the blunt across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect tomorrow should be avoided in favor of a thoughtful and balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects crucial investments in programs such as family-planning services. doclink

    U.S.: It's No Time to Deep-Six Title X

    September 11, 2012, Population Connection

    In the U.S., Title X (Ten) - The National Family Planning Program - has been saving money, lives and heartache for more than 40 years. It prevents unwanted pregnancies, detects cancer, treats deadly infections and helps babies get a good start in life.

    In 2008 Title X funding prevented 973,000 unintended pregnancies, 433,000 unplanned births, and 406,000 abortions. In 2010 Title X provided 5.2 million Americans with Pap tests, breast exams, family planning advice and contraception. Without it, teen pregnancies would rise, and taxpayers would have to spend more on public services. Our health care system would suffer and so would people.

    No Title X money is spent on abortion. About 69% of families served by Title X had family incomes at or below the poverty level.

    When women are able to postpone pregnancy, plan their families and space their births, they are healthier, and their babies are, too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teens can stay in school. College dreams can become reality. The economic pressures large families face can be avoided.

    Our planet benefits, too, by less use of the natural resources we all depend upon.

    Every dollar invested in Title X family planning programs saves $3.74 in Medicaid costs the next year, according to Guttmacher Institute.

    But for some strange reason, the House this year voted to defund Title X - and leave those 5.2 million Americans to fend for themselves.

    Talk to the politicians vowing to defund family planning programs, confront them. Ask them why they want more unintended pregnancies, extra unplanned births and a spike in the abortion rate. Ask them why they want women's lives constrained in a way that men's simply are not. doclink

    U.S.: No-Cost Birth Control: the Facebook Application

    June 27, 2011, Huffington Post

    Although 98% of American women use birth control sometime in their life, one in three of these women is challenged to be able to use prescription birth control because it costs too much. According to Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, "young adults ages 18-24 have the highest rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States -- and nearly one-third of female teenagers become pregnant before reaching the age of 20. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended."

    The Guttmacher Institute refines these statistics to "Sixty-three percent of reproductive-age women who practice contraception use nonpermanent methods, including hormonal methods (such as the pill, patch, implant, injectable and vaginal ring), the IUD and condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization." Affordable non- permanent prescription birth control, has too often been difficult for too many to obtain. But those days may end soon. There is a provision in Obama's new health care law that would allow contraception to be considered preventative care. Insurance plans would then have to cover contraception without a copay.

    Keenan says "NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation has launched a campaign called BC4ME (Birth Control for Me) to make sure the government follows through on the health-care law's promise to improve women's access to vital health services. We expect the federal government to decide this summer whether to include no-cost birth control in the law's implementation."

    And the best news yet!! BC4ME launched a Facebook application to let users know how much they themselves, or any other women in their lives can save by not having to spend on out-of-pocket costs of birth control. According to Keenan" The application is fun", and lets users see how much money can be saved when this provision of the Obama health care plan is passed. Already, scores of people have calculated the personal impact that no-cost birth control would have on them, and have shared testimonials describing the financial sacrifices they make to be able to continue using prescription birth control.

    Unfortunately, for every testimony of financial sacrifice there is testimony from a women who sacrifices even using birth control, because it is just too expensive for her.

    Of course, no-cost birth control could never come just that easily. Anti-contraception groups are fighting hard to prevent this policy change. To them birth control is a "life-style choice" not health care. That description flies in the face of recommendations made by The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Public Health Association, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine, who all refer to family planning (using birth control) as recommended preventive care.

    Check out the Facebook application and see for yourself! http://www.facebook.com/naralprochoiceamerica? sk=app_190733170965153 doclink

    US Kansas: Why Would At-Risk Teens Need to Know About Condoms?

    July 8, 2011, The Kansas City Star

    Kansas is in the midst of culture wars. Recently it was the battle over 'the condom on the cucumber.'

    More important, the Johnson County Commission turned down federal aid for a program aimed at preventing teen pregnancy and reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Last year Kansans for Life and others objected to a federal grant proposal because the money would have been funneled through Planned Parenthood. Some of the commissioners objected because they feared political repercussions for doing the right thing. Which would have been to do whatever it took to help teenage girls avoid getting pregnant. doclink

    U.S.: Centers Stop Dispensing Birth Control; Planned Parenthood Loses Contract

    July 8, 2011, Concord Monitor

    Two weeks ago, the all-Republican Executive Council of New Hampshire voted 3-2 against a new contract that would have provided Planned Parenthood of Northern New England $1.8 million in state and federal money for the two years starting this month.

    The six Planned Parenthood centers in New Hampshire stopped dispensing contraception last week, their retail pharmacy license contingent on having a state contract.

    Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire of Concord, who cast one of the three votes in opposition, said the contract should go to an organization that does not perform abortions. The councilors approved 10 other contracts for family planning services.

    The contract with Planned Parenthood, which accounts for about 20% of its annual New Hampshire budget, would have paid for education, distributing contraception, and the testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

    The organization's abortion practice is paid for by private donations, president and CEO Steve Trombley, said, with audits ensuring no public money is used.

    Planned Parenthood provides contraception, breast exams, screenings for cervical cancer, and tests for sexually transmitted infections, treating 52% of patients whose care is subsidized by the New Hampshire state family planning program. 70% of its patients, 150% below the federal poverty line,pay little or nothing for birth control pills, and 70% of the center's patients lack private health insurance.

    One woman said she would like to have a child but cannot afford it, and she worries there will be a public cost if contraception is inaccessible to low-income women. "If they can't afford to have a baby, then we'll be paying for them in the long run," she said.

    Anne Hildreth, a practitioner working for Planned Parenthood, said her goal is to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. She questioned the rationale of limiting access to contraception in an effort to prevent abortions. "It's crazy to not give women birth control if you want to stop women from having abortions," she said.

    Executive councilor Raymond Wieczorek of Manchester does not believe the state should subsidize contraception. "If they want to have a good time, why not let them pay for it?" he said. doclink

    An Unexpected 2012 Voting Issue: Public Strongly Supports Family Planning, New Poll Shows Americans Have Reached a Consensus on Contraceptives, So Why the Controversies?

    June 3, 2011, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA)

    Editor's note: A couple of press releases from NFPRHA are combined here in this synopsis

    Title X, of the Public Health Service Act, the national family planning program, which funds such care for low‐income people, was recently threatened in a battle in Congress over the 2011 federal budget. Other battles on women's access to affordable family planning loom at the state and federal levels.

    June 7 is the anniversary of the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court decision that legalized contraceptive use by married couples. For NFPRHA the anniversary marks the beginning of a series of activities to draw attention to the need for family planning services to be fully covered in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid as well as full funding for Title X (Ten), the National Family Planning Program.

    Nearly all Americans have embraced family planning as an essential part of their lives and thought consensus on the issue had been reached decades earlier.

    A May telephone poll conducted by Lake Research Partners found that support for family planning in America crosses all demographic and political lines and outweighs budget‐cutting arguments by a two‐to‐one margin. 84% of Americans view family planning, including contraception, as important to basic preventive health care services, the survey concluded. 67% feel that way strongly, and 40% said they would be less likely to support elected officials who vote to defund family planning. 60% agreed that everyone has a right to safe, affordable family planning services, while only 31% agree that budget concerns should require cuts in funding for family planning.

    From the survey results, one could conclude that family planning is a core American value, and that voters would be willing to punish politicians who try to cut public funding for it.

    Other facts:

    * 98% of American women have used birth control at some point in their lives.

    * 93% of voters believe all couples should have access to birth control.

    * 6 in 10 women who get health care from a publicly funded family planning center consider it their regular source of health care.

    * The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited family planning as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th Century.

    Background on the Griswold v Connecticut case is provided at http://www.nfprha.org/images/insert/Griswold_OnePager_June_2011.pdf .. In summary:

    In 1961, the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut opened its doors, but less than two weeks later Executive Director Estelle Griswold and Medical Director Dr. C. Lee Buxton were arrested for violating an 1879 law that made it illegal to use contraceptives or to provide contraceptives or contraceptive information. They were convicted and then appealed their conviction.

    In a 7-2 decision issued on June 7, 1965, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court, ruling that the law violated the right to marital privacy.

    The Griswold decision, while only securing a right to use contraception for married couples, laid the groundwork for many decisions that upheld the right to privacy and offered protection from government intrusion on individuals' reproductive and sexual health decisions. In 1972, the Court extended the principles of Griswold to unmarried couples. The Court wrote, "f the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child." The following year, in Roe v. Wade, the Court relied on the privacy right identified in Griswold to conclude that the Fourteenth Amendment is "broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."

    Title X supported more than 4,500 health centers nationwide that helped a record 5.2 million people in the recession year of 2009, but its $300 million budget met less than a third of the need, notes Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.

    "Using contraception is not controversial in American homes. Women spend about 5 years either being pregnant or trying to get pregnant and about 30 years trying not to get pregnant." she said.

    Former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (D‐CO) said "If you think the $300 million that goes to family planning is going to balance the budget, I have a bridge I want to sell you."

    Obstetrician Dr. Mark Hathaway of the Washington Hospital Center noted that half of all pregnancies are unintended. "That's where the Title X program has been so successful, in helping people avoid unintended pregnancies."

    In the end, the Final Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 spending bill (H.R. 1473) - signed into law on April 15, 2011 - cut funding for Title X by $18.1 million.

    Some Members of Congress are also trying to cut Medicaid - a critical funding source for family planning and other health care for low-income and poor individuals - and undermine the Affordable Care Act. In addition some states are moving to refuse Title X funds, prohibit certain types of providers from receiving state and/or federal funds, and cut Medicaid enrollees and benefits, all of which would make it harder for low-income women to get birth control.

    The polling results, memo and an audio briefing by the above spokespeople along with background information on the anniversary of Griswold v Connecticut decision, Title X including state‐by‐state data and basic facts on family planning services are available at www.NFPRHA.org.

    Tell Congress and your state officials they are getting it wrong! Tell them to stop attacking family planning services and providers, and to start working to strengthen and protect our national family planning program - Title X - and ensure access to contraceptives under Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

    To reach your Members of Congress, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can access a directory of state legislative websites through the National Conference of State Legislatures. doclink

    U.S.: Planned Parenthood Under Fire

    May 26, 2011, USA Today

    Social conservatives in Congress failed to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood last month, and now Legislators in several states are trying it.

    Federal law prohibits federal funding of abortions. Planned Parenthood gets government contracts and grants to provide family planning and health services. It serves about 3 million patients annually.

    President Carol Tobias of the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion, says that taxpayer dollars that go to Planned Parenthood don't fund abortions directly, but the money is building their infrastructure and helping to attract clients.

    About a third of Planned Parenthood's $1.1 billion a year budget is from government funding.

    Attempts in state capitals to curtail the organization's funding are unprecedented says Roger Evans, Planned Parenthood's litigation director. "This is really ... an effort by the states to punish Planned Parenthood because of what we do with our private funds."

    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels recently signed legislation barring any entity that performs abortions from contracting with Medicaid to provide health and preventive care. The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood sued; a court hearing is set for June 6.

    Federal law does not allow states to prevent beneficiaries from getting other care from providers that offer abortions, according to The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is is reviewing Indiana's law and other state proposals to withhold funds from abortion providers. Recent legislative action:

    Tennessee, Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas, and North Carolina are all considering or have passed bills to restrict funding to entities, or Planned Parenthood specifically, that provide abortions. doclink

    Birth Control

    November 14, 2007, Bill Deneen

    Urge your congress person to support the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act.

    For 20 years, drug companies have made it possible for college health clinics and safety-net providers to purchase birth control at low prices. This fall, the birth control that previously cost them $5-10 for a monthly supply now cost $40-50. Due to a provision included in the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), as of January 1, 2007, every college and university health center and safety-net providers were unintentionally cut off from accessing low-cost birth control. Skyrocketing prices are putting birth control out of reach for women to prevent unintended pregnancy.

    The Prevention Through Affordable Access Act would allow drug manufacturers to offer deeply discounted prices to safety net health care providers.

    Over half the pregnancies in the US are unintended. doclink

    Equity in Prescription and Contraceptive Coverage Act (EPICC)

    Papantonio: Hobby Lobby is DOA

    March 28 , 2014, Daily Kos

    Corporations open themselves up for lawsuits if Hobby Lobby succeeds. That's they there are no amicus briefs filed in favor of Hobby Lobby.

    doclink

    Women Strongly Oppose Hobby Lobby's Birth Control Case: Poll

    March 24 , 2014, Huffington Post   By: Laura Bassett

    The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius. Both involve for-profit companies refusing to provide their employees with coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act because the companies' owners do not believe in birth control.

    In a survey of women voters between 18 and 55 released by Hart Research Associates, more than two-thirds (68%) opposed allowing corporations to refuse to cover contraception in their health plans because of religious objections. More than half indicated that they disagree "strongly." 84% of women agreed with the statement that the decision to use birth control "should be a woman's personal decision, and her boss should not be able to interfere with it." Geoff Garin, President of Hart Research Associates said, "As a matter of principle, these women don't believe corporations should be able to use religion to pick and choose which laws they will obey."

    The poll shows that women also oppose other kinds of religious freedom laws affecting gays and lesbians, and 81% said pharmacies should not be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control on religious grounds. doclink

    Art says: Another article said that the National Coalition of American Nuns sent a petition to the Supreme Court saying, "We want to make clear that the sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families." . . . "We know that religious freedom means that each person has the right to exercise their own religious beliefs." It "cannot mean that an individual or a corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on their employees."

    If Hobby Lobby Wins, it Will Be Even Worse for Birth Control Access Than You Think

    March 19, 2014   By: Tara Culp-ressler

    On March 25, the Supreme Court will take up the issue of contraceptive coverage in a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Craft chain Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties -- both for-profit companies -- claim that they can withhold insurance coverage for certain types of contraceptive methods based on their religious beliefs.

    Not only do they not want to cover specific types of birth control, but they also object to providing counseling about that birth control. If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are successful, they'll win the right to refuse to extend coverage for doctor's visits that include discussion about certain forms of contraception, like IUDs or the morning after pill.

    Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, explained: "Counseling and education about contraception has been a basic part of a medical visit forever, even before the methods themselves were covered. Before we had prescription drug coverage, we certainly had coverage for the visit to your doctor, and there were never any limitations about what you could talk to your doctor about." And doctors can't just skip over certain methods: in order to obtain informed consent from their patients, doctors are obligated to explain the full range of options available.

    Informed consent is the 'bedrock' of medical ethics. The conversation between doctor and patient needs to be careful and detailed before the patient agrees to any medical intervention.

    So patients are left with a choice: don't talk about contraception with their doctor or if they do want to discuss contraception, they'll have to pay for the visit out of their own pocket. They'll essentially have to choose between a potential financial burden or a potential health burden.

    Worse yet, employees might not realize that restrictions set by the employer exist when they visit their doctor. Companies that withhold coverage for some types of services may not explain to their workers exactly what their plan excludes, or provide them with a referral to access those services elsewhere.

    Sonfield said: "This is telling you that you can't use your compensation" your own benefits that you have earned -- in a way that your boss objects to." Insurance coverage for preventative care is a benefit that employees earn through the hours that they put in to their jobs.

    Some employers might object to modern health services like vaccinations, blood transfusions, or mental health care. If Hobby Lobby wins, that could open the door for employers to restrict coverage for doctors' visits that include discussion of those topics, too. doclink

    Karen Gaia says:

    As Supreme Court Takes Up Contraceptive Coverage Cases, New Guttmacher Analysis Puts the Facts Front and Center

    Counters Misinformation and Documents the Wealth of Evidence Strongly Supporting the Current Federal Policy on Contraceptive Coverage
    March 11, 2014

    On March 25 the Supreme Court will take up cases on the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage guarantee.

    In January Guttmacher filed a Supreme Court amicus brief. A new Guttmacher analysis by Adam Sonfield sets the record straight on several important questions of fact misinterpreted and obfuscated by the anti-contraception opponents and clarifies key points of the brief.

    The analysis explains why the ACA's requirement that most private health plans cover contraceptive counseling, services and supplies without out-of-pocket costs for patients is necessary and appropriate. The areas covered in the analysis are:

    1. Contraception is not abortion: Science clearly shows that contraception is distinct from abortion. Further, by preventing unintended pregnancies, effective contraceptive use dramatically reduces the need for abortion.

    2. Contraceptive use benefits women and families: Millions of women who have used contraception were able to plan and space wanted pregnancies which resulted in myriad health benefits for mothers and babies and, in turn, promoted women's educational, economic and social advancement.

    3. Comprehensive contraceptive coverage improves use: Methods of contraception differ dramatically in their effectiveness in preventing unintended pregnancy. Removing cost barriers -- as the federal policy currently requires -- has given women the ability to choose and use the best and most effective method for them.

    4. Contraceptive coverage is not a financial burden for employers: Strong evidence shows that contraceptive coverage will be either cost-neutral or even generate savings for employers. Also funding for contraceptive services under programs like Title X and Medicaid in 2010 resulted in net public savings of $10.5 billion, or $5.68 for every dollar spent.

    5. Shifting responsibility to the government is not workable: Having the government pay for contraceptive services and supplies for privately insured women is not viable politically and wouldn't work, and would end up creating new hurdles for women.

    "If the Court sides with the plaintiffs, it could truly open a Pandora's box of discrimination. Employers might claim religious objections to coverage -- for everyone or, for instance, for those who are young, unmarried or gay -- of HPV vaccination, STI testing, breast-feeding equipment, maternity care, blood transfusions, HIV medication and mental health care," said Sonfield doclink

    U.S.: Why Free Birth Control is Not Free

    August 08 , 2012, Huffington Post

    Beginning the 1st of August the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care plan began, which would give millions of women access to a full range of preventive health care services without a co-pay. These services include breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence; screening for gestational diabetes; DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV; counseling regarding sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; screening for HIV; contraceptive methods and counseling; and well-woman visits. Also the health care plan ensures that plans must cover an array of services, vaccinations, and interventions, including those specifically needed by women, infants, children, and adolescents at different points in their lifecycle.

    However, religious and political fundamentalists at the state and federal level are trying to deny women access to reproductive health care of virtually every kind, often based on the notion that the new health care act gives women access to birth control for free.

    This is not the case, and it is misleading - and politically dangerous - to say so.

    You have to have an insurance policy to get birth control without a co-pay. Women cannot get the pill without a prescription, which first entails a visit to a doctor's office. No one without insurance can walk into a doctor's office and get an IUD or any kind of contraception for free, unless they are covered by insurance. Ten percent of women in the United States who work full time are currently uninsured. They and those who otherwise uninsured do not have access to "free" birth control.

    If you have insurance, you pay for it, either by virtue of your labor or out of your own pocket, or, depending on the situation, both. And under the ACA it is now mandated that your insurance plan cover certain benefits without a co-pay. This does not make them "free." It means that you are paying for that service as part of your premium. You earned it, you paid for it, it is yours. If you pay for it, you deserve to get it.

    Health insurance benefits, along with matching benefits for retirement, vacation time, life and disability insurance, and Social Security were either earned or paid for out of the employee's earnings.

    Insurance companies know that offering certain kinds of preventive care and making that care more accessible to more people means that a small investment in the short-term will keep costs lower in the long term. An early abnormal pap smear leading to early treatment is a lot less expensive for them than is treatment for cervical cancer later on. An unwanted pregnancy averted through use of contraception is less expensive than an abortion.

    What the Affordable Care Act does is help to begin addressing the disparities in our insurance policies and premiums to make them more equitable. Fewer working women than working men in this country have employer-based insurance; insurers have historically charged women more than men in a practice known as gender-rating; and for a very long time, women have paid more out-of-pocket for basic preventive health care services like pap smears and birth control.

    The reason that lawmakers and insurance companies did this has to do largely with the cost-savings that will be realized: healthier women mean a healthier society and reduced economic and social costs.

    We should support expanding government-funded programs to ensure that all women have access to birth control and other preventive health services, because it makes sense in terms of public health and the economy, and because such access is a basic human right. But people who earn their insurance coverage pay for it, and they deserve the benefit for which they are paying.

    Let's call the birth control benefit what it is: Women's hard-earned insurance coverage. It's ours. We earned it. We pay for it. We deserve it. doclink

    State Court Rules Against Catholic Church on Insurance

    October 20, 2006, New York Times*

    New York State's highest court ruled that religious organizations must require most employee health insurance policies to cover contraception.

    The decision left intact the Women's Health and Wellness Act of 2002, which requires company health insurance policies that provide coverage for prescription drugs to include "coverage for the cost of contraceptive drugs or devices."

    It had been challenged by a group including eight Catholic and two Baptist organizations.

    The New York State Catholic Conference, said it would consider appealing the ruling to the US Supreme Court saying that it is about religious liberty. In New York, the Insurance Department was joined by the other groups in defending the insurance regulation's terms.

    The court's decision said that legislators had intended the 2002 law to "advance both women's health and the equal treatment of men and women." In addition, the New York law requires employee insurance to cover osteoporosis exams and screenings for breast and cervical cancer.

    Tthe issues centered on an exemption for "religious employers," who are not required to provide coverage for contraception. But the exemption does not apply to church schools, hospitals or organizations that employ and serve people from diverse religious backgrounds. doclink

    U.S.: Sen. Clinton Charges GOP War on Contraception

    May 17, 2006, Associated Press

    Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has sought a political middle ground on abortion, told supporters the GOP is trying to cut back women's access to birth control.

    Clinton, D-N.Y., charged that the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress are whittling away at contraception options, particularly for women who rely on government-funded programs.

    The senator cited statistics that half of all unwanted pregnancies end in abortions.

    Republicans accused Clinton of seeking to enlarge federal programs.

    Clinton's campaign letter asks supporters to sign a petition protesting curbs on family planning services. Clinton joined Sen. Harry Reid, the leader of the Senate Democrats, to protest a Republican health insurance bill on similar grounds.

    Clinton and Reid said the bill allowing small businesses to pool together across state lines would indirectly reduce access to contraception and increase the number of abortions.

    The bill would waive individual state coverage requirements for such health care plans. Democrats fear companies will drop contraception coverage if the bill becomes law. doclink

    US Montana: Blue Cross Won't Challenge Mandated Contraceptive Coverage

    March 29, 2006, Associated Press

    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana said it is working through the opinion issued by Attorney General Mike McGrath that will force prescription policies to include coverage for contraceptives.

    Although any insurance companies could challenge McGrath's opinion and ask a court to overturn it, Blue Cross is considered the most influential, but Blue Cross does not plan to appeal.

    If McGrath's opinion is not taken to the courts, opponents could still go the Legislature and ask lawmakers to modify it but Blue Cross plans to live with the decision although they get a lot of complaints from consumers who are having trouble paying their health insurance bills, and this adds to the overall cost.

    The attorney general said Montana's "unisex" insurance law forbids any discrimination based on gender in insurance policies. Advocates have tried to get the Legislature to mandate birth control prescription drug coverage. Montana, like many states, requires insurance companies to cover a number of medical conditions.

    The insurance industry says those mandates are driving up the cost of health insurance and people should be allowed to decide what they want covered.

    Blue Cross said it has yet to determine when the contraceptive coverage mandate will become effective 24 other states require insurers to cover prescription contraceptives. doclink

    Contraception would save on the cost of pregnancy and childbirth.

    US Sex Education

    U.S.: Sex-Ed Initiative at Heart of House Bill Battle; Focus on Funding for Teen Program

    October 20, 2011, Washington Times

    The House bill that would fund the Department of Health and Human Services for fiscal 2012 has a clause that would slash Obama administration's TPP (Teen Pregnancy Prevention) program, now funded at $105 million, and divert half the money to abstinence education.

    The Senate version of the bill maintains the new TPP Initiative program, which was created by the Obama administration and a Democrat-led Congress to give grants to organizations to replicate certain "comprehensive" sex-education programs that have been proven to impact teen pregnancy and to replace Bush-era abstinence-education grant programs.

    TPP grantees must also conduct research on their programs.

    Monica Rodriguez, president and chief executive of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) said the House bill is "problematic and hypocritical." Everyone in Congress is talking about deficit reduction and cost-saving measures, but then they “decimate" the TPP program, which supports programs that work, she said, and divert money to "failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs."

    Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) said abstinence programs are effective, citing a NAEA report published this year that lists 22 studies - half published since 2008 - that show that abstinence programs can reduce teen sex or affect teen behaviors. Also, federal data show “a dramatic drop" in teen sexual-activity rates since 1996 — the year abstinence-education funding was first expanded, she said.

    It is unknown what will happen to the TPP program when the House and Senate bills are merged.

    The Senate version - unlike the House draft - also maintains funding for family planning and other public health programs.

    The deadline for a decision is Nov. 18, when Congress‘ temporary spending law expires. doclink

    U.S.: Teenage Pregnancies: Growing Pains

    October 8, 2009, Economist

    There had been a long, steady fall in U.S. teenage pregnancies, but now a troubling rise has occurred.

    From 1991 to 2005 the teen births declined by 34%, according to the National Centre for Health Statistics. But from 2005 to 2007, it crept up 5%. Statistics are not yet available for 2008 and 2009.

    Before the Pill, pre 1960, the rate was more than double what it is today. It is below its early-1990s bubble, but the new trend is worrisome.

    There are several reasons given by various parties, but abstinence-only and lack of access are two of them.

    In Texas, for example, public schools must emphasize abstinence, but although they can use other approaches, few choose to be more comprehensive - 94% of the districts took the abstinence-only approach. Those pamphlets and brochures that bothered to discuss contraceptives were often full of errors, or deliberately misleading. Teens were warned that premarital sex could lead to divorce, suicide, poverty and a disappointed God.

    Texas has the third-highest rate of teenage births, after Mississippi and New Mexico. Dallas has the highest rate of repeat teenage births in the country, 28%, and several other Texas cities are in the top ten. Girls in the state under 18 must get parental consent for contraceptives, even if they already have a child.

    Federal funding for one abstinence-only programme ended in June so many states and school districts have already abandoned it in favor of a more comprehensive approach. On the other hand, last month the Senate Finance Committee approved an amendment to its health-care bill restoring abstinence-only funds.

    While Latina teenagers rates of sexual activity similar to other groups, they have a considerably higher birth rate. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health says Latina teenagers are less likely to have health-care coverage for contraceptives, and are more likely to lack transport to the free clinics in their cities. doclink

    U.S.: Teenagers and Pregnancy

    June 17, 2009

    Contraceptive use by sexually active teens has declined by 10% since 2003, while their sexual activity has remained unchanged. This follows increased contraceptive use between 1991 and 2003, according to a new report from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

    The authors suggest a link between the shift in use of contraception and abstinence-only sex education programs that deny young people information about sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptives and pregnancy. To the extent these programs even mention condoms, typically it is to disparage their effectiveness.

    President Obama's budget plan would direct current funds now devoted to the abstinence-only programs, along with some additional money, to a new teenage pregnancy prevention initiative, with an emphasis on comprehensive sex education.

    Hopefully this science-based effort to protect the health of young people and reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies should win support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle - and both sides of the abortion divide. doclink

    U.S.: Tell Congress to Support President Obama and Help Prevent Teen Pregnancy

    May 12, 2009, Population Connection

    Last week, President Obama took a courageous stand on behalf of America 's young people by publicly calling for the elimination of Bush-era abstinence-only programs. These programs were infamous for their use of scare-tactics, offensive stereotypes, and outright lies - and for the fact that over the last 10 years they wasted more than a $1 billion in taxpayer money.

    Instead, the president is proposing funding for new, evidence-based interventions to combat teen pregnancy and teach young people healthy decision-making skills.

    But the enemies of science have not conceded defeat. Right-wing extremists are flooding the offices of members of Congress with messages demanding that abstinence-only funding be restored. We need you to help make sure that does not happen.

    Please take a moment and click above to send a message to your Senators and Representative urging them to support the President's effort to empower young people. Tell them not to give in to the extremists -no money for abstinence-only! doclink

    US South Carolina: How to End the War Over Sex Ed

    March 30, 2009, Time

    Teaching kids about abstinence won't prevent teen pregnancies. But a county in South Carolina is finding success by doing both.

    S. Carolina is the only state that mandates the hours that schools must devote to sexuality education. One district partnered with a local organization to implement a sex-education curriculum that runs through middle school, high school, and an after-school program for at-risk kids.

    Congress will decide whether to eliminate $176 million in federal funding for abstinence-only programs. Advocates will debate the merits of abstinence-only efforts vs. more comprehensive programs that teach about birth control and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

    What we need is the political will and community investment to educate kids about sexuality and healthy relationships in a responsible and honest way. It's crazy to spend more time teaching kids about decimals and fractions than about dating and sex.

    In 2006 there were 41.9 births for every 1,000 U.S. teens - more than three times that of Canada. But over the past 15 years, teenagers have had less sex than previous generations, and have been more likely to use protection when they have had sex. Conservatives see this as a result of abstinence education. Liberals attribute it to greater use of birth control, better education and access to contraceptives.

    In S Carolina birthrates in the state fell 27% from 1991 to 2006. But teen birthrates are almost 12 points above the national average. In 1988, South Carolina passed the Comprehensive Health Education Act, which requires sexuality education from elementary school through high school, including at least 12.5 hours of "reproductive health and pregnancy prevention education" during a student's high school years. It allows each school district to make its own decisions, but with federal funding limited to abstinence-only programs, local districts have a powerful incentive to restrict their sex-education curriculum.

    Researchers working with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy have calculated that in 2004 alone, teen pregnancies cost U.S. taxpayers more than $9 billion in health care, foster care, public assistance and lost tax revenue. The cost for South Carolina taxpayers that year came to $156 million.

    But $40,000 was raised to hire a recent Clemson University graduate to be the district's dedicated sex-education teacher.

    At Starr-Iva Middle School, she teaches two courses - one on basic sexuality, the other on decision-making skills - to each class in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The program gives students information about STIs, pregnancy and contraception. But it also encourages them to delay sexual activity, works on building self-esteem and uses role-playing to teach them how to resist pressure from peers and partners.

    No one quite knew how this highly religious community would react, but it has virtually no opposition. They can also look through her course materials and sit in on her classes.

    The comprehensive sex-education model combines factual information about birth control and STIs with a strong message that kids should wait to have sex. Jordan's approach seems to be working. During her first three years, teen birthrates in the district stayed steady, but in 2007 that number dropped to four and then last year dropped again, to two.

    School officials have been so pleased that they've talked about adding a sex-education requirement in 11th grade. There is growing evidence that comprehensive sexuality programs like the ones Jordan teaches can be more effective than abstinence-only curriculums at persuading teens to behave more responsibly.

    The effective programs "have a very clear message that not having sex is the safest choice. They put emphasis on skill-building and role-playing, they teach how to use condoms, and they encourage young people not to have sex." doclink

    U.S.: Why Do Teen Birthrates Keep Rising?

    March 20, 2009, Salon.com

    Teen birthrates rates rose in the U.S. for the second consecutive year. The pro-abstinence camp considers the statistics evidence that their approach is essential. Others said that if you spend $1.5 billion to teach this to young people and then pass laws that limit their access to good information, contraception, emergency contraception and abortion, you shouldn't be surprised at the outcomes.

    The evidence has been mounting for those who consider abstinence-only a failure. After a decade and 1.5 billion federal dollars spent promoting abstinence-only, a scientific study authorized by Congress reported no real difference in when program participants first had sex, or whether they had sex before marriage, or in their number of sexual partners.

    But the numbers are compiled from birth certificate statistics; all they show is an increase in birth rates among young women. They don't tell the pregnancy rates, or whether or not the pregnancies were intended, or what information these women had ever received about contraception.

    It takes a while for a trend to reverse itself, but there is evidence linking HIV education, change in teen sexual behaviors, and the declines in teen pregnancy between 1991 and 2004.

    C. Everett Koop's promotion of HIV education during the years following the first reported cases of the virus in 1981 had an impact among teens: they reported a big upswing in condom use and fewer sexual partners. Then, HIV education dropped while abstinence-only programs came into vogue.

    And voila. Now recent behavioral data from 2003-2007 suggests declines in teen condom and contraceptive behavior and little change in sexual activity. Those data are consistent with the shift to abstinence-only approaches.

    Evidence suggests that sexuality education works. And the abstinence-only camp hasn't produced any compelling evidence to support the notion that keeping teens sexually ignorant will prevent them being sexually active. doclink

    U.S.: The Rise in Teen Moms

    March 20, 2009, Christian Science Monitor

    After dropping for 14 years, the birth rate among 15-to 19-year-olds went up in 2006 and, rose again in 2007. Ways to curb teen pregnancy have become a topic for debate.

    President Obama and Congress have cut aid to sexual-abstinence programs and plan to do more.

    There are no easy answers. Even the most effective programs only reduce risky sexual behavior among teens by about one-third. Teens may not take any type of sex education seriously if adults fight over it.

    Communities need to send clear, consistent messages about appropriate sexual behavior. It is important that organizations avoid sending conflicting messages to young people.

    What is needed is that all those concerned unite in dealing with the many factors causing teen pregnancy. These include poverty, drugs, fatherless homes, and domestic abuse. The yearly cost in public services for a teen mother is about $4,080.

    America's sexualized culture - reflected by the teen births by Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears, or the film "Juno." Another influence is the role model they see in single women having or adopting babies. Four out of 10 births are now to unwed mothers. One overlooked issue is that the male in a "teen pregnancy" is usually more than 20 years old. Why aren't prosecutors going after these statutory rapists?

    Parents need to find better ways to talk about sex and make better efforts to instill high values. One study found teen moms can earn more in later life and eventually obtain a high school education but that doesn't take into account the effects on children of being raised without a father.

    An unconditional love for each teen, even with a pregnancy, will help them gain control and maturity - and help America reverse this trend. doclink

    U.S.: Time for Real Sex Ed

    March 17, 2009, Population Connection

    The Responsible Education About Life Act (REAL) Act authorizes federal funding for comprehensive sex education programs, which have no dedicated funding.

    The REAL Act calls for sex education that is medically and scientifically accurate, free of religious bias, and empowers young people to make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual behavior.

    With a new and more supportive Congress and President, we have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives and health of teens. doclink

    Contraception

    U.S.: Hobby Lobby, IUDs, and the Facts

    The U.S. Supreme Court will decide later this year whether a corporation can have religious beliefs. Maggie Koerth-Baker looks at the science of birth control, and how it might inform the debate
    April 19, 2014, BoingBoing

    Later this year, the US Supreme Court will issue a ruling in the case of Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. — answering whether a corporation can have religious beliefs that enable it to opt out of the mandate requiring company-purchased insurance to cover all forms of birth control.

    People like the owners of Hobby Lobby believe that IUDs mostly work by preventing implantation, which is, to them, an abortion. Birth control activists believe that IUDs prevent pregnancy.

    An IUDs is a "T' shaped piece of plastic that is inserted by a doctor through a woman's cervix and into her uterus. It can be left there for years. There's nothing to remember, as with the pill or a condom. And fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant in a year while using an IUD, compared to the Pill -- 9 out of 100 -- or a condom -- 18 out of 100.

    Dr Horacio Croxatto studied IUDs in rats in 1964 and found that the IUD prevented implantation of the fertilized egg in a rat's uterus. Humans, however, have a different reproductive system. In humans the IUD prevents the egg from fertilizing. When an IUD in a human uterus, the immune system registers it as an intruder and starts to attack and end up killing the majority of sperm that reach the uterus. The effect is even stronger in IUDs made with copper, like ParaGard, because copper ions are also toxic to sperm.

    However, IUDs can also prevent implantation, especially if they are used as an emergency contraception - after having sex. But the primary mechanism is to prevent fertilization, not to prevent implantation. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: most use an IUD on a long-term basis - killing the sperm before they fertilize the egg. Hobby Lobby supports contraception that acts by preventing fertilization. Thererfore, their case in the Supreme Court should be restricted to only those times that an IUD is used as emergency contraception. Why throw out a methods that works so well in preventing abortions?

    Decades After Birth Control Became Legal, It's Still Controversial

    Five places in America where contraception is still a scary subject
    June 06, 2014, Rolling Stone   By: Robin Marty

    Nearly a half-century after the Supreme Court legalized birth control, conservatives are still fighting to restrict access to contraception.

    Over 49 years ago the Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut legalized the use of birth control devices for married couples, and within six years, singles gained the same right. Now that people have been using pills, IUDs, patches and injections legally for almost half a century, we might assume the right of people to buy these products. But in several U.S. places, that assumption is wrong. A number of high-profile Americans still think that you and I should have no right to prevent pregnancy by artificial means. What's more, some who think that way have influence over some of our laws and lives. For example, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia openly challenges Griswold. To him the decision implies that married couples have a right to privacy in the bedroom. Our constitution grants "no generalized right to privacy," Scalia told Fox News when asked about Griswold in a 2012 interview.

    Getting birth control in a clinical setting has become more challenging due to a growing crusade to defund and close Planned Parenthood and other providers. Last April an entire Oklahoma town nearly lost all legal access to hormonal contraception (birth control) after the city medical center required physicians to stop offering it. Although that decision was overturned; based on personal religious or moral values, anyone having power in a hospital or clinic may use a "conscience clause" to challenge your access to birth control. These new bills say that neither doctors nor clinic managers have any obligation to provide birth control or help you find it.

    Salinas (CA) County Commissioners rejected grant money for an IUD program, calling the use of IUDs "murder." Although IUDs have nothing to do with abortion, during the funding debate, Commissioner John Price said that using IUDs would be the same in God's eyes as aborting the kids. "The commission stated it may reconsider, but has yet to accept the grant - although preventing unwanted accidental pregnancies saves money by reducing abortion requests and birth-related health care costs and services.

    Two influential groups, the American Life League (ALL) and Personhood USA (P-USA), are dedicated to fighting legal contraception. Calling sex without a desire to create life the "contraceptive mentality," ALL says that it threatens marriage, parenting, proper gender dynamics and our entire civilization's moral fiber. To portray it as a medical issue, they sponsored "The Pill Kills," a decade-old anti-Griswold campaign online and in front of reproductive health clinics across the country. ALL claims hormonal contraception instigates such physical complications as strokes, breast cancer, heart attacks and death, as if being pregnant and giving birth every year or two has no harmful effects.

    P-USA sponsors changes to our laws. When a "personhood" amendment goes on a state ballot, its backers claim granting legal rights at the moment of fertilization has no impact on hormonal birth control. However, some Mississippi P-USA advocates admit to reporters that it will. They told Irin Carmon in 2011 that passing the amendment would ban hormonal contraption and IUDs. Although some P-USA supporters have said this goes too far, the movement none-the-less backs a referendum that will extend its war on contraception to North Dakota. doclink

    Art says: I wonder if Judge Scalia has been troubled by the fact that the Constitution never specifically granted him (or us either for that matter) the right to go to the bathroom.

    Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Say Health Plans Should Cover Birth Control

    April 22 , 2014, Los Angeles Times   By: Karen Kaplan

    One of the most controversial provisions of the Affordable Care Act is the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception. The results of a new survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. (JAMA) demonstrated that 69% of Americans agreed that "health plans in the United States should be required to include coverage" for "birth control medications."

    Women, African Americans, Latinos and parents living with children under the age of 18 had higher levels of support for mandatory contraception coverage than people in other demographic groups.

    However, all of the other services asked about in the JAMA report were more popular than birth control. For example, 85% of those surveyed supported mandatory coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies, 77% backed the provision on mandatory coverage for mental health care, and 75% supported mandatory coverage of dental care, including routine cleanings.

    Also 7.8% of those surveyed said they thought employers who offered health insurance should be required to cover every item on the list except for birth control. Those having this opinion were more likely to be male, over the age of 60 and not be living with kids under the age of 18.

    Hospitals, universities and other organizations run by religious nonprofits are not required to offer coverage for birth control and can opt out and allow their employees to obtain contraceptives directly from health insurance carriers.

    In addition, lawyers for for-profit Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. recently argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that the chain should not be forced to pay for birth control that violate the religious beliefs of the evangelical Christian family that controls the company. A decision in the case is expected by the end of June. doclink

    Is This Catholic Hospital in Oklahoma Trying to Prevent Women From Getting Birth Control?

    April 01 , 2014, Slate   By: Amanda Marcotte

    Off-the-record sources recently reported that management at the Jane Phillips Medical Center told doctors affiliated with the hospital that they could no longer prescribe birth control. There is only one OB-GYN in town who does not work with the hospital.

    The broad medical consensus based on actual science and evidence is that contraception is a necessary part of women's health care. The American Medical Association affirms, in its ethical guidelines, "policies supporting responsibility to the patient as paramount in all situations and the principle of access to medical care for all people."

    Catholic organizations like St. John want to replace sound medical judgment with a bunch of rules concocted by theologians. It's all good and well to have private beliefs about the sinfulness of contraception, but for the sake of clarity and patient protection, those in the business of providing health care should abide by standard medical ethics. And those ethics include making contraception simple for patients to get, not putting a bunch of confusing obstacles out there for patients and doctors to navigate. doclink

    LTE: for Contraception Methods, Long-term Options Work Better

    November 27 , 2013

    Bonnie Tillery, a population issues coordinator for the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club wrote this LTE which she is willing to share with anyone who wants to send it to their local paper.

    For contraception methods,long-term options work better

    There has been a lot of negative press about the Affordable Care Act, but here is some positive news.

    The act mandates that insurance companies provide all forms of female contraception without a co-pay as part of preventive health care. This should bring down the incidence of unplanned pregnancy dramatically, as was shown in a 2007 study at Washington University in St. Louis.

    According to an Oct. 23 article in The American Prospect, 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."

    Currently, about one-half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned - the largest number among countries in the developed world. By reducing dependence on the birth control pill, which is not as effective as other long-term contraceptives, the incidence of unplanned pregnancy should be greatly diminished.

    Women who are able to plan their pregnancies and space their children have healthier outcomes for themselves, their families and the environment.. doclink

    U.S.: Popping the Pill's Bubble

    Free birth control is great, but it’s not going to do women much good if they don’t know which method to use
    October 31, 2013, American Prospect

    With the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), newly insured women can begin to start thinking about what kind of birth control they want, rather than what they can afford. All forms of female contraception will be offered without a co-pay to insured women as part of a larger package of preventive-care services. If women can choose a form of birth control that works for them, without worrying about the cost, they'll be less likely to get pregnant, saving insurance companies thousands of dollars in sonograms and prenatal vitamins.

    80% of women will use a contraceptive pill at least once during their reproductive lives, but they need to take the pill at the same time every day, a challenging task that even very organized people have problems with. But it's cheap, unlike longer-term contraceptives like the IUD—a T-shaped device that, once inserted into a woman's uterus, can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years.

    Under the ACA, insurance companies are required to cover at least one form of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods -- including IUDs and contraceptive implants, matchstick-sized rods that are inserted into the arm to prevent pregnancy and last for up to three years—at no cost to their subscribers.

    However, all this variety of contraceptive options—patches and implants, shots and rings may sound pretty scary to many women. They need doctors to guide them through the process of choosing a new form of contraception, a role that physicians, who are already pressed for time, are ill prepared to fill. A survey found that 40% of women between didn't receive in-depth counseling or information from their health provider on how to use the birth control they were prescribed. One third of the women surveyd were not presented with multiple birth-control options, and of those that were, 10% reported that they felt pressured to choose one over the other and the same percentage said they had questions they did not feel they were able to ask their health provider.

    The problem is: doctors may inadvertently prevent their patients from finding the form of birth control that works best for them. The ACA requires insurers to cover counseling as well as the birth control methods themselves, but it's not yet clear whether insurers will pay doctors extra for longer counseling sessions. "It's much easier to write a prescription for a birth control pill than to sit down and talk with a woman about the pros and cons of the IUD," said Low.

    Because doctors are don't spend enough time or get little emphasis on contraceptive counseling or education in medical school, most women are unaware that birth control pills can cause decreased libido and vaginal dryness. 30% of women using the pill discontinued use because of dissatisfaction with the method—most often because of side effects, such as unpredictable bleeding, weight gain, or a dulled sex drive,

    Giving the task of contraceptive counseling to nurse-midwives or to non-clinicians might be a better alternative. In 2007, a study by researchers Washington University in St. Louis implemented the Contraceptive CHOICE Project which provided 10,000 St. Louis women with free contraception, with the goal of decreasing unintended pregnancy. Contraceptive counseling wasn't initially built into their program model, but the majority of women did not realize that there were lots of choices available and they recruited research assistants to counsel women about their options. 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.

    Doctors need to stop thinking about contraception in isolation, as a tool to prevent pregnancy, rather than as a drug that's intimately linked to women's sexual and reproductive lives. Even if doctors are not compensated by contraceptive counseling, insurance companies might become be proactive, realizing that reimbursing doctors for contraceptive counseling is good for their bottom line. For insurers, there's no downside to improved contraceptive use -- it's in insurers' interest to help women think about the kind of birth control that works best for them. doclink

    The Long-term, Extremely Positive Effects of Birth Control in America

    October 7 , 2013, Business Insider   By: Max Nisen

    According to University of Michigan economist Martha Bailey, many family and social benefits have occurred since birth control was legalized and made more readily accessible. Enabling people to control whether and when to have children helped to facilitate upward mobility for both parents and their children. Birth control usage seemed to improve college completion rates, job quality, wages, the ability of women to work, and family investment in children. Bailey also claimed that birth control allows people to delay marriage, perhaps due to fewer "shotgun" weddings. This, she says, allows for better marriage choices.

    In effect, family planning can reduce poverty rates. Since delaying parenthood allows women to work and parents to train for better jobs, family incomes improve. And, when parents have fewer unwanted or "ill-timed" children, they have more time and resources to spend on each child. Bailey charted these improvements statistically. As contraception became more common, adults improved their incomes by 2 - 3%, and their children were 2 -7% more likely to complete college. Nisen concluded, "When people are able to delay having children and have fewer of them, they tend to be more financially secure and better able to help their children succeed."

    When birth control pills were first introduced, only some of the states legalized their use, and states where “the pill" was legal had far lower fertility rates. But after the Supreme Court case Griswold vs. Connecticut prevented any state from restricting contraceptive sales, lower fertility rates soon occurred more uniformly throughout rest of the country.

    Follow the link to see the chart that shows the difference in fertility rates between states that allowed the Pill to be used and those that prohibited it. doclink

    U.S.: Democratic Lawmakers: Getting Birth Control Should Be as Easy as "ABC"

    Recently reintroduced legislation could keep pharmacists from refusing to fill women's birth control prescriptions
    February 15, 2013, Salon.com   By: Katie Mcdonough

    Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) have reintroduced the "Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act," which would prevent a pharmacy from interfering in the personal medical decisions made by a patient and her doctor. Lautenberg said "Birth control is basic health care for women, and Obamacare has removed financial hurdles for millions of women; we can't allow other obstacles to be placed in their way. By guaranteeing that women can access birth control at every pharmacy in the country, we can ensure that women are never denied the right to make responsible decisions about their reproductive health."

    The bill protects the right of individual pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription, but also ensures that pharmacies will fill all prescriptions, even if a different pharmacist has to do it. In addition, if the requested product is not in stock, but the pharmacy stocks other forms of contraception, the bill mandates that the pharmacy help the woman obtain the medication without delay by the method of her preference: order, referral, or a transferred prescription.

    Only seven states guarantee that women's birth control prescriptions will be filled.

    The lawmakers are trying to strike a balance between religious objections to contraception and the rights of the women who shouldn't have to care what their pharmacists think about their use of birth control. doclink

    Other Federal Funding, Programs and Policies

    Ensure Access to Birth Control--tell Congress to Pass the Abc Act

    September 27, 2010

    Recently the FDA approved a new, more effective emergency contraceptive called Ensure. Quick to react, the Family Research Council started a new campaign to "encourage" pharmacists to refuse to dispense the new drug. Not surprising since they are doing the same thing with all birth control. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-14th/NY) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have introduced the Access to Birth Control Act (ABC Act--H.R. 5309/S. 3357) in the U.S. House and Senate.

    This Act simply requires pharmacists to fill valid prescriptions for contraception and to dispense over-the-counter emergency contraception when asked, or to provide a referral to another store. Pharmacists do not have a right to interfere with a woman's private medical decisions, or to substitute their moral judgment for hers.

    Click on the headline above to send a message to your Members of Congress: co-sponsor and support the passage of the Access to Birth Control Act. doclink

    Why Sustainability Activists Should Consider Florida's Population Stabilization the Greatest Opportunity of Their Lifetimes

    September 2009, Joe Bush - New England Coalition for Sustainable Population

    When Florida reported that the Sunshine State had experienced population stabilization during the last year, it did not take long for a chorus of sustainability ignoramuses to bray that the sky was falling.

    But to those concerned with how the United States and the international community are going to adopt sustainable economic models, Florida's situation offers the rarest of opportunities. If sustainability activists do not bravely and boisterously explain why Florida's population stabilization is the most wonderful moment in history, they can expect to see their cause suffer badly.

    A New York Times report on the situation was peppered with so much pro-growth propaganda you get the sense the author is a shareholder in many Floridian development firms.

    "Florida, in particular, was not built for emptying, ..."The end of double digit growth "...is, by all accounts, a life lived under capacity." Stanley Smith, a professor at the University of Florida blurts in the article that "You have a state that has been a leader in population growth for the last 100 years that suddenly has seen a substantial shift."

    To Smith, a 0.3% decline of residents (after gaining 88% since 1980 and 3456% since 1900) is "sudden", "dramatic" and "substantial".

    Florida's population stabilization represents an unforeseen opportunity for environmentalists, ecological economists, steady-state economists, small government advocates, land preservationists, wildlife protectors, and entrepreneurs of all sorts the chance to explain to Floridians and the rest of the world why population stabilization is the best thing that could happen to a state. It is important to understand the limits of the regenerative capacity of the state's renewable resources, and the implementation of a sustainable economic policy that efficiently keeps overall consumption within the state's natural carrying capacity without degrading Florida's environment any further. Hopefully as time moves on, the economy can be geared towards rehabilitating the damage already done to Florida's environment. doclink

    U.S.: New Rules Would Threaten Right to Contraceptives

    July 17, 2008, Planet Wire

    Reproductive health advocates were outraged by reports that the administration plans to require recipients of federal health programs to hire people who object to abortion and many kinds of birth control.

    The report said the draft change in rules would require hospitals, clinics, researchers, medical schools and state and local governments to sign "written certifications" of non-discrimination against such applicants. The proposal would define "abortion" as "any of the various procedures that results in the termination of the life of a human being between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: we saw this coming. Religious conservatives will not be happy until women can no longer prevent pregnancies except by abstinence. Barrier methods will come under attack after contraceptives are banned.

    Anti-Birth Control Advocate Keroack is Gone!

    Planned Parenthood Federation of America

    Anti-birth control advocate Eric Keroack will no longer oversee the nation's family planning program! The day he took office, Planned Parenthood rallyed a groundswell of opposition to his appointment.

    PPFA President Cecile Richards issued a statement: Keroack was unqualified to run the nation's family planning program. The Bush administration must replace Keroack with a legitimate, mainstream public health expert who supports family planning and access to birth control. doclink

    Church Bars Raped Women From Pill

    January 11, 2007, The Australian

    Under church policy, sexually assaulted women who seek help at Catholic hospitals cannot be referred to centres that supply morning-after pills.

    Another fertility centre has been told to move out by the Catholic buyers of the hospital where it is based. Catholic Health Australia, says direct referral of raped women to centres that offer the morning-after pill "should only occur if steps have been taken to exclude pregnancy".

    Catholic spokesmen defended the policy as a logical and ethical extension of the church's opposition to the morning-after pill,. But Melbourne GP and medical broadcaster Sally Cockburn said she was "blown out of the water" when she read the policy. "They have no right to make us follow their point of view. The NSW Rape Crisis Centre, said it was standard practice for a raped woman to be offered the morning-after pill.

    Catholic-controlled health organisations control more than 70 hospitals in Australia. Canberra's John James Hospital bought by a Catholic-controlled organisation had begun withdrawing services to the Canberra Fertility Centre, which was based on its premises.

    Catholic organisations ran 21 public hospitals around the nation they would have to follow the ethics policy.

    Health workers in Catholic hospitals "are not prevented from giving information" about abortion, the morning-after pill or any other treatment. Staff are not permitted to directly refer women to abortion services.

    Bishop Anthony Fisher said the ban was a logical extension of the church's position on use of the morning-after pill. doclink

    US Missouri: Senator Proposes Banning Most Abortions

    March 02, 2006, Associated Press

    Sen. Crowell filed a bill Wednesday that would generally ban abortions in Missouri except to prevent a woman's death. Violation of the law would face a sentence of five to 15 years in prison. Last week, South Dakota voted to allow the procedure only to save a woman's life and the Gov. is inclined to sign the bill. Crowell hopes his measure reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. Crowell also filed to change the state constitution to prohibit abortion and said the Roe v. Wade decision was wrong, and urged lawmakers to join him to protect the sanctity of unborn life. Abortion supporters vowed to fight the bill. The Missouri Legislature has an anti-abortion majority and has enacted restrictions to the procedure over the years. Last year they passed a measure allowing parents to sue people who help their minor daughters get an abortion without their consent. It also requires doctors who perform abortions to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion takes place. doclink

    New Hope, New Dread; FDA, Safety and Politics Enmeshed

    January 22, 2006, USA Today

    In an e-mail to FDA staff, Commissioner Lester Crawford said that, at 67, it was time to resign. Crawford's tenure was marked by controversy: The withdrawal of Vioxx and Bextra. The FDA told makers of two silicone-gel breast implants that they can market their products as soon as they answer remaining questions. Opponents said the companies haven't studied patients long enough to prove the devices are safe. Some members of Congress held up Crawford's confirmation because the FDA had not yet allowed Plan B emergency contraception to be sold over-the-counter. Opponents charged that politics trumped science. The head of the FDA's women's health office quit in protest. The Accountability Office called the FDA's Plan B decision-making process "unusual." After Crawford resigned, the Bush administration named Andrew von Eschenbach of the National Cancer Institute to be acting FDA commissioner. Skeptics questioned the potential conflicts of interest in von Eschenbach holding two jobs, so he went on a leave of absence from the cancer institute. doclink

    U.S.: Strange Behavior at the F.D.A.

    November 15, 2005, New York Times*

    Congressional investigators have documented maneuvering behind the FDA decision to reject over-the-counter sales of the morning-after contraceptive. The investigation, by the Government Accountability Office, stopped short of asserting that political considerations had led officials to overrule their own experts and advisers. But the most plausible inference is that politics or ideology was allowed to trump science as higher-ups searched for rationales to keep access to the contraceptive restricted. The investigators did not consider communications with other parts of the executive branch, so they had no way to determine whether political pressure was exerted. But they did find four unusual aspects. First, directors that would normally handle the issue disagreed and did not sign the rejection letter. Second, high-level managers intervened more than in any other case involving a switch from prescription to nonprescription status. Third, the heads of several key offices said they had been told that the switch would be denied months before their reviews of the application. Fourth, the rationale used to justify the rejection was that younger adolescents might engage in unsafe sexual behavior with Plan B available. It seems clear that those running the agency were looking for any reason to prevent easy access to the contraceptive. In doing so, they tarnished the reputation of an agency whose decisions are supposed to be based on science. doclink

    States, Provinces and Regions

    U.S.: State Policy Trends 2013: Abortion Bans Move to the Fore

    April 11, 2013, Guttmacher Institute

    In the first three months of this year state legislatures introduced 694 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. 93 have been approved by at least one legislative body.

    About half of these seek to restrict access to abortion, most of them seeking to ban abortion outright. 14 states introduced provisions seeking to ban abortion prior to viability. All of these proposals are in direct violation of U.S. Supreme Court decisions which allow abortions up until viability.

    Legislators in 10 states have introduced proposals that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions. In eight of those states (AL, IA, MS, ND, OK, SC, VA and WA), legislators have proposed defining "personhood" as beginning at conception; if adopted, these measures would ban most, if not all, abortions. In CO, FL, IA and ND, legislators introduced measures that would ban abortion except in very limited circumstances, such as when the woman's life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest; none have passed a legislative chamber.

    Arkansas and North Dakota have already enacted legislation this year banning nearly all abortions beginning at some point in the first trimester of pregnancy; similar measures have been introduced in KS, KY, MS and WY.

    Legislation to ban abortions at 20 weeks postfertilization was enacted in Arkansas and is pending in nine other states (IA, IL, KY, MD, ND, OR, TX, VA and WV). These bans are patterned after a 2010 Nebraska law that has already served as the model for such laws in eight other states, two of which are enjoined pending legal challenges because they prohibit abortion prior to viability.

    Eight states (AL, AR, IA, IN, MO, MS, NC and TX) have introduced provisions to restrict medication abortion. If adopted, these restrictions threaten U.S. trend toward very early abortion.

    Seven states already ban telemedicine for prescribing medication abortion.

    On the other hand, two states, Colorado and Hawaii, were poised at the end of March to enact legislation expanding access to comprehensive sex education; if enacted, it would be the first time since 2010 that any state has done so. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Person-hood restrictions leave the door open to ban contraception.

    Ohio Republicans Want To Ban Sex Ed Classes From Talking About ‘Gateway Sexual Activity'

    April 17, 2013, Think Progress

    Under an amendment proposed by Republicans in Ohio's legislative House, sex ed classes wouldn't be permitted to provide students with any information that might "condone" gateway activity. That includes dispensing contraception. Gateway activity is described as "sexual contact" ; that is, “any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast." The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:

    The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:

    It goes on to prohibit distributing certain materials, conducting demonstrations with “sexual stimulation" devices, or distributing contraception.

    If a student receives such instruction, a parent or guardian can sue for damages, and a court may impose a civil fine of up to $5,000.

    Last year, Tennessee Republicans pushed to strengthen their state's abstinence-only law by defining kissing and hand-holding as gateway activities that could lead teens to engage in sexual intercourse. Whether or not U.S. teenagers are taught abstinence in their health classes, most of them still become sexually active. By their 19th birthday, 70% of American teens will have had sex.

    Abortion opponents in Ohio also successfully pushed for an amendment to the legislation that would defund the state's Planned Parenthood clinics, and reallocate those family planning dollars to right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers" that don't actually provide the same kind of health services.

    The provisions will head to a full House vote later this week. doclink

    Possible Fed Cuts Could Shut Down Women Reproductive Health Services in Alaska

    February 21, 2011, KTVA-11 (Alaska)

    Cuts are proposed for the federal budget that will remove funds used for reproductive health care, and additional programs for low-income women.

    With the U.S. House already voting to remove funding for things like cancer screenings and birth control from family planning programs like Planned Parenthood and others, the push is on for the Senate to follow course.

    Some say this decision is a plain and simple a direct attack on low-income women's only chance for health care.

    Upcoming votes on Capitol Hill could determine if family planning services will be eliminated in Alaska.

    Clover Simon, the vice president of Planned Parenthood of Alaska said: "Primarily it's cancer screening, it's pelvic exams, breast screenings, birth control services." ... "Without that funding we would no longer be able to provide those services to women." doclink

    States May Ban Abortion if Roe Overturned

    October 14, 2004, Associated Press

    The Center for Reproductive Rights said some states have laws that would be triggered by overturning Roe v. Wade. Others have state constitutions or anti-abortion legislatures that would act if the federal protection for abortion was ended. Currently, it is believed that five of the nine justices support abortion rights, but that balance could be tipped if President Bush, in a second term, nominates a new justice with anti-abortion views. 18 states had laws totally or partially banning abortion that could be revived if Roe were overturned. 20 states, including Massachusetts, would likely retain abortion rights. The 21 states considered at high risk of banning abortion were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The nine at middle risk: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. The 20 at lower risk: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. doclink

    US Alaska: Doctors Approve Abortion Web Site

    May 23, 2005, Anchorage Daily News

    The state's official abortion web site is objective and accurate. It's taken a year to get to this point. Lawmakers mandated the web site as a way to ensure that women seeking an abortion are informed about risks and consequences. The $20,000 budget for the web site's creation has been spent on staff, transcription, copying, mailing and the costs of a nurse-midwife who has been leading the doctor panel meetings. The doctors volunteered their time. Two perform abortions, one was recruited by Alaska Right to Life and two others fall in between. All five are men; no women volunteered. The doctors incorporated some of the comments sent in by the public but decided not to address others. The comments fill a 3-inch-thick binder. They grappled with the emotional side of abortion. The fact that there are support groups for women who have had abortions shows abortion is not just another surgery. A listing of the emotional effects included descriptions of how the experience differs from woman to woman. It could take another couple of months before the finished web site is online. It also will include information on family planning, pregnancy, fetal development and adoption. Abortion providers will have to ensure women are fully informed. The site is regulated by the state and must be approved by the state health commissioner, state lawyers and Lt. Gov. Loren Leman. doclink

    U.S.: New Jersey Gov. Eliminates Family Planning Funding From State Budget

    June 23, 2010, Parsippany Daily Record

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and the Democrat-controlled Legislature reached an agreement on a fiscal 2011 budget that includes a $7.5 million cut to family planning centers. If the budget is approved, 58 family planning centers will no longer receive state funding, which accounts for about 25% of their budgets.

    State Senate President Stephen Sweeny (D) criticized the elimination of the family planning funding, noting that it would decrease the amount of federal money the state receives. New Jersey receives $9 for every $1 spent on family planning, according to Sweeny.

    The issue "is not about abortion but about women's health," Sweeny said, "And the governor is going to sacrifice women's health and throw away $9 for every dollar. Sweeny said Democrats would try to pass a supplemental spending bill with the family planning funding. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Preventing unplanned pregnancies will save the state of N.J. much more than it would spend on family planning.

    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the California Special Session Budget

    March 29, 2010, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (Northern Calif)

    The California State Legislature started in January 2010 with an estimated $20 billion deficit. The governor's budget proposed elimination of California's - Family Planning Access Care and Treatment - if the federal government did not give $6.9 billion in relief. This "triggering" to eliminate Family PACT was a new threat to our ongoing efforts to protect access to family planning for California women.

    PACT is the state's family planning program that provides breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraception, pregnancy and STD testing and treatment for nearly 1.7 million Californians every year. Planned Parenthood's advocacy mantra is "9 to 1" - for every $1 the state spends, the federal government adds $9 more.

    Family PACT has saved California over $2 billion since its inception and has enabled us to meet the increased demand during these challenging economic times.

    Fortunately California's revenues began a modest increase - primarily due to growth in the stock market that generated capital gain taxes. Buoyed by the modest increase in revenues, the Legislature decided to wait until the "May revise" when the governor presents his next budget that will include the April tax revenues.

    Funding for access to our preventive services survived the budget cuts once again. But, uncertainties in our economy remain. Unemployment rates continue to depress the budget outlook.

    Because we know how vital it is for women to have access to contraception, we must watch the budget process closely and be prepared to call upon our supporters to advocate for continued access to family planning services for all low-income Californians. doclink

    California Congresswoman Lois Capps on Birth Control

    December 2008, Bill Denneen / Lois Capps

    Letter to constituant from Congresswoman Lois Capps:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding your concern for the high cost of birth control. I appreciate hearing from you regarding this important issue.

    You will be pleased to know we are in complete agreement. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act (H.R. 4054) which would allow drug companies to again offer college clinics and safety net healthcare providers a significantly discounted rate on birth control purchases. As you know, this reduced price allowed providers to offer low cost birth control to their patients who often cannot afford to pay full price for contraceptives.

    H.R. 4054 corrects a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 that went into effect this year that mistakenly prevented drug companies from continuing to offer discounted birth control.

    As a result, many college clinics can no longer afford to provide birth control to their students. For student health centers and other clinics that still offer birth control, the prices have increased astronomically from an average of $5 to nearly $50 per month. I am very concerned the increased costs have made it more difficult for many women to obtain safe and effective birth control.

    I firmly believe that students should NOT (edited) have to pay such a steep price for a bureaucratic oversight. Women who can't afford birth control should not be made to suffer the consequences of an unintended pregnancy. I hope this bill moves quickly through the legislative process so we restore access to safe, effective and affordable birth control for women across the country. doclink

    Public Decision Makers

    Women's Rights Activist Sandra Fluke Heads to Calif. General Election

    June 04, 2014, OnPolitics   By: Catalina Camia

    Women's rights activist Sandra Fluke took second place behind fellow Democrat Ben Allen in her primary race for the state Senate seat currently held by of Ted Lieu in Southern California. California's primary rules allow the top two vote-getters to move on to the Nov. 4 general election, even though both, in this case, are Democrats.

    Fluke gained national fame in 2012 as a Georgetown University law student when Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his radio show for her support of President Obama's health care law (Limbaugh later apologized). Republicans had blocked Fluke from testifying at a congressional hearing in support of contraceptive coverage by insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act. Fluke went on to become a featured speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and campaigned for Obama. doclink

    U.S.: Paul Ryan:The Threat to Women Doubled

    August 14, 2012, NARAL Pro-Choice America

    Recently, Mitt Romney announced his choice for his vice presidential running mate: outspoken anti- choice Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin.

    Ryan cast 59 anti-choice votes on abortion and other reproductive rights issues in the U.S. House of Representatives. He repeatedly voted for and cosponsored the Federal Abortion Ban, a law that criminalizes some abortion services, endangers women's health, and carries a two-year prison sentence for doctors.

    "I'm as pro-life as a person gets. You're not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they're unavoidable, and I'm never going to not vote pro-life," he said

    If elected on November 6, there is no doubt that Ryan will work with Mitt Romney the day after the inauguration to:

    * Defund Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation

    * Eliminate the Title X family-planning program, which provides mammograms and cancer screenings to low-income individuals

    * Deny women in the military -- who defend our freedom overseas -- the right to use their own, private funds for abortion care at military hospitals

    * Pass legislation to effectively ban abortion coverage in state health-insurance exchanges

    *Allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even when a woman's life is in danger

    With nothing to stand in the way of the extreme Romney-Ryan agenda, we could lose the protection of Roe v. Wade, women's health and lives will be at risk -- and anti-choice zealots could wipe out decades' worth of reproductive rights we've fought so hard to win.

    We need to knock on every door, make every call, and sound the warning bell to every pro-choice voter we can find. If we can get them to the polls, we can defeat anti-choice politicians running across the country and continue with all our important grassroots and advocacy work to ensure the right to privacy. doclink

    U.S.: Candidates on Contraception

    February 17, 2012, WOA!! website - Karen Gaia Pitts

    Santorum:

    One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, "Well, that's okay. Contraception's okay."

    It's not okay because it's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They're supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also , but also procreative. That's the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that's not for purposes of procreation, that's not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can't you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it's simply pleasure. And that's certainly a part of it—and it's an important part of it, don't get me wrong—but there's a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

    Again, I know most Presidents don't talk about those things, and maybe people don't want us to talk about those things, but I think it's important that you are who you are. I'm not running for preacher. I'm not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These how profound impact on the health of our society.

    http://swampland.time.com/2012/02/14/rick-santorum-wants-to-fight-the-dangers-of-contraception/#ixzz1mUrlXNQR

    Ron Paul:

    Last year, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul introduced a bill in Congress that would allow states to ban contraception if they choose.

    Paul's "We the People Act," which he introduced in 2004, 2005, 2009, and 2011, explicitly forbids federal courts and the Supreme Court of the United States from ruling on the constitutionality of a variety of state and local laws. That includes, among other things, "any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction." The bill would let states write laws forbidding abortion, the use of contraceptives, or consensual gay sex, for example.

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/ron-paul-birth-control

    Ron Paul is not a true Libertarian. He is anti-abortion and anti-contraception.

    As Ayn Rand said: An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

    Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?

    Too bad, I like his other ideals. But if he is going to twist this one ideal, who knows what he will do with the others. It is not so simple after all.

    There is no way he is going to win this one. 98% of American women have used or are using contraception, and that includes 97% of Catholic women. How would you like it if you were forced, by law, to preserve all of your sperm? That's where the Mississippi Personhood law is headed.

    Gingrich

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich acknowledged on Thursday that his support for a "fetal personhood" constitutional amendment would make some forms of birth control illegal.

    Earlier in the week, the candidate had signed a pledge (PDF) from the group Personhood USA that declared he would "support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children."

    At a campaign event in Fort Dodge, Iowa Thursday, a young woman asked Gingrich what this meant for birth control.

    http://smd12364.newsvine.com/_news/2011/12/17/9517341-gingrich-post-conception-birth-control-should-be-illegal

    Romney

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) told Fox News host Mike Huckabee this weekend that he would support an amendment to his state's constitution to define life as beginning at conception, which would outlaw abortion and potentially many forms of contraception as well. Noting that the state supreme court forced the inclusion of abortion coverage in Romney's universal health care law, the GOP presidential front-runner said the only way to undo the decision would be a constitutional amendment. Asked if he would support such a move, Romney replied, "absolutely":

    HUCKABEE: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established definition of life beginning of life at conception?

    ROMNEY: Absolutely.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/10/03/334190/mitt-romeny-constitutional-amendment-abortioneption/?mobile=nc

    Texas Governor Perry

    Perry has taken large amounts of funding away from Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides most of the birth control to low-income individuals. Whether or not you think the poor deserve free birth control, it is very poor use of public funds to limit access to pregnancy prevention while spending much larger amounts to pay for Medicaid births.

    http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/09/medical-legacy-rick-perry.html doclink

    U.S.: Medical Panel Recommends No-Cost Birth Control

    July 19, 2011, NPR

    if Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius accepts the recommendations released today the Institute of Medicine (IoM), health insurance plans may soon have to offer prescription contraception at no upfront cost to women.

    In addition to contraception, the study calls for eight additional services for women to be added to the list of preventive care patients should be offered with no cost-sharing. The new services include annual "well-woman" visits; screening of pregnant women for gestational diabetes; screening for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV; more support for breast-feeding mothers; and counseling and screening for possible domestic violence.

    The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 98%of sexually active women will use contraception at some point during their reproductive years, and that cost concerns are frequently cited as a reason for inconsistent use or use of a less then optimal method. Guttmacher said in testimony submitted to the IoM: "Women citing cost concerns were twice as likely as other women to rely on condoms or less effective methods like withdrawal or periodic abstinence."

    The IoM panel was firm in rejecting claims by opponents, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that "to prevent pregnancy is not to prevent a disease."

    "Women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to receive delayed or no prenatal care and to smoke, consume alcohol, be depressed, and experience domestic violence during pregnancy, the panel wrote. "Unintended pregnancy also increases the risk of babies being born preterm or at a low birth weight, both of which raise their chances of health and developmental problems," it noted.

    A PBS article, "Women Should Get Free Birth Control" said: "the highly influential IOM report recommends that all U.S.-approved birth control methods be covered by insurers. That includes the controversial 'morning-after' or 'Plan B' pill that is considered by some to be a form of abortion because the woman takes it in the hours after sexual intercourse. "

    "The IOM's recommendation to include all FDA contraceptive methods as a critical preventative service—without cost sharing—and to cover the patient education and counseling necessary to ensure each woman can choose the method best for her, is a critical step in empowering all women to plan their pregnancies," said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif.

    But from the opponent's side: "Several drugs have been approved by the FDA to be legally categorized as 'emergency contraceptives,' despite functioning in ways that can destroy a preborn baby before or after implanting in the mother's womb," said Jeanne Monahan of the conservative Family Research Council. "A federal mandate to all insurance plans to include drugs such as ella essentially would mandate coverage for abortion. Inclusion of contraceptives also undermines conscience protections that President Obama promised would be maintained." doclink

    Karen Gaia Says: Encourage Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius to accept these recommendations. See below

    Australia: The Spin-doctors Are at it Again

    April 21, 2011, Marc O'Connor blog

    The spin-doctors of the Business Council of Australia are demanding rampant population growth for Australia -- "to around 30 million in 2030 and 36 million in 2050". And they are trying to present this selfish demand as reasonable and they are calling this "Moderate Population Growth the Best Path to Prosperity," in its submission to Tony Burke, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on how to achieve a sustainable population for Australia. On its cover-page: Improving the quality of life of all Australians within prosperous, secure and liveable communities requires well-managed population growth over the first half of this century.

    Myth: Australia's current annual rate of population growth, and/or those demanded by business lobbyists, are "moderate" or "balanced". Comment: Not so! They are higher than those of many third world countries (Indonesia 1.2% a year). Our recent range of 1.7% to 2.1% is 4 to 6 times the average of industrialised countries. We are headed for close to 100 million Australians by the end of the century.

    While it is easy to import population growth it is very difficult to go in the opposite direction. Hence we need to remember that Australia's population growth is effectively not reversible.

    Myth: Big Business has made a good case for continued population growth. Comment: Not so. The list of the world's most prosperous countries is dominated by those with under 20 million people.

    Myth: Science and technology will save us, so there's no need to cap population. Comment: People who say this are rarely scientists. Mostly they are growth economists brought up on an ideology that there are no limits to growth, or else persons with a vested interest in growth.

    The Australian Academy of Science back in 1994, before Peak Oil or Climate Change were widely accepted, warned government that 23 million was Australia's safe upper limit.

    Myth: We in Australia have plenty of resources. Comment: Not so. The 3rd Inter-generational Report notes that our oil - the commodity on which our civilisation depends - will be gone by 2020.

    Fertiliser price is directly linked to energy prices. Many business plans will not survive, and economic downturn is likely. To add more people to a low-energy future is foolish. Our iron ore, LPG gas and many other resources are fast running out.

    Myth: Sustainable means keeping our businesses going. Comment: No, human sustainability means above all being prepared for Peak Oil. doclink

    Giant Weapons Maker Becomes Big Brother

    January 14, 2011, Asian Times Online

    Lockheed Martin received US $36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any company in history. It now does work for more than two dozen government agencies.

    It's involved in surveillance and information processing for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service.

    In recent times, though, it's doing everything from hiring interrogators for US overseas prisons to managing a private intelligence network in Pakistan and helping write the Afghan constitution.

    It spent $12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009 alone. Not surprisingly, it's the top contributor to the incoming House Armed Services Committee chairman, Republican Howard P "Buck" McKeon of California, giving more than $50,000. It also tops the list of donors to Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye.

    While the bulk of its influence-peddling activities may be perfectly legal, the company also has quite a track record when it comes skirting with the law: it ranks number one on the "contractor misconduct" database maintained by the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington DC-based watchdog group.

    Even listing the government and quasi-governmental agencies the company has contracts with is a daunting task, but here's just a partial run-down: the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Land Management, the Census Bureau, the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense (including the army, the navy, the marines, the air force and the Missile Defense Agency), the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Technology Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the General Services Administration, the Geological Survey, the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of State, the Social Security Administration, the US Customs Service, the US Postal Service, the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Security Agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    When president Dwight D Eisenhower warned 50 years ago this month of the dangers of "unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex", he could never have dreamed that one for-profit weapons outfit would so fully insinuate itself into so many aspects of American life. doclink

    Hillary's Challenge: Would Putting Women First Make for Better Foreign Policy?

    July 16, 2009, American Prospect

    In March, Hillary Clinton accepted the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood. In her speech, she laid out the connections between reproductive rights and global security. She said the reproductive-rights movement was "one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race."

    "Too many women are denied even the opportunity to know about how to plan and space their families," she said. "And the derivative inequities that result from all of that are evident in the fact that women and girls are still the majority of the world's poor, unschooled, unhealthy, and underfed. This is and has been for many years a matter of personal and professional importance to me, and I want to assure you that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women's rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this administration."

    Chris Smith, Rep, New Jersey, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has fought throughout his career reproductive rights worldwide. He has urged foreign politicians not to liberalize their abortion laws and led the way to freeze the American contribution to the United Nations Population Fund.

    When Smith asked Clinton, "Is the Obama administration seeking in any way to weaken or overturn pro-life laws and policies in African and Latin American countries?" ... "Does the United States' definition of the term 'reproductive health' or 'reproductive services' or 'reproductive rights' include abortion?" ...

    Clinton answered: "When I think about the suffering that I have seen, of women around the world -- I've been in hospitals in Brazil, where half the women were enthusiastically and joyfully greeting new babies, and the other half were fighting for their lives against botched abortions. ... We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health, and reproductive health includes access to abortion, that I believe should be safe, legal, and rare."

    Clinton said in a 1995 speech at the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, "Women's rights are human rights, once and for all." The New York Times said it "may have been her finest moment in public life."

    Even though politically contentious, reproductive rights may be the area where rapid progress is easiest. One of Obama's first acts was to repeal the so-called "global gag rule," which had denied American funding to organizations working abroad that perform abortions, counsel women that abortion is an option, or advocate for abortion-law liberalization. Obama also restored American funding to the United Nations Population Fund.

    To create change for women's rights, Clinton has to change the way State Department employees think about their job. Ultimately, she must to begin to change cultures, both in Washington and around the world. doclink

    MAHB - the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior: Your Invitation to Participate

    September 2009, Paul Erlich - Bill Reyerson popnews email list

    While scholars have adequately detailed how to deal with the major issues of the human predicament caused by our success as a species, nothing serious is being done. There is clearly not a need for more natural science but rather a need for better understanding of human behaviors and how they can be altered to direct humanity toward a sustainable society before it is too late.

    Thus a group of natural scientists, social scientists, and scholars from the humanities decided to inaugurate a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB --- pronounced "mob"). It is human behavior, toward one another and toward the planet that sustains all of us, that requires rapid modification. It is hoped that MAHB will serve as a major tool for promoting conscious cultural evolution.

    The MAHB is partially modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which involves hundreds of scientists and whose role is to sort out the scientific validity of claims and counterclaims of competing interests and to find equitable solutions. Sessions are open and transparent, and representatives of various governments, interested industries, and environmental organizations also participate as observers.

    The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, developed to assess the condition of Earth's life-support systems, may serve as another partial model for MAHB.

    Plans are for the MAHB to be kicked off with a world megaconference, targeted for 2011, to initiate a continuing process. If you are interested in learning more follow the link in the headline. doclink

    Philanthropists, Advocates, Activists

    U.K.: London Summit: a Compilation of Commitments

    September 17 , 2012, International Planned Parenthood Federation

    The London Summit on Family Planning held in July harvested commitments from organisations and nations which enabled it to easily overshoot that $2.3 billion target. The Summary of Commitments from the UK Department of International Development reported that commitments came from 10 donor countries, 6 foundations, 19 developing countries, 21 civil society groups, 3 multi-lateral partnerships, and 1 private sector company.

    The goal of the summit was to raise sufficient donor funds to meet the unmet need for contraception of 120 million women worldwide by 2020. This would require an extra $4.3 billion injected into family planning programs over the next 8 years. Of that $4.3 billion, $2.3 billion would be provided by donors.

    In summary, the world is putting its money where its mouth is, taking Sexual and Reproductive Health seriously, and placing it at the center of the development agenda.

    The Summary of Commitments incorporates International Planned Parenthood Federation's (IPPF) own commitment to treble the number of women's and girls' lives saved each year by 2020.

    With increased capacity, increased funding, and strengthened service delivery systems, IPPF aims to save the lives of 54,000 women and girls, avert 46 million unintended pregnancies, and prevent 12.4 million unsafe abortions by 2020. The federation will also triple its services to young people by 2020, and make commodities more affordable. doclink

    U.S.: Book Review: "Margaret Sanger: a Life of Passion"

    August 03, 2012, Population Connection

    Jean H. Baker's biography "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion" rejects the narrow-mindedness that has characterized many previous Sanger biographies and instead focuses on Margaret Sanger's life as a whole - her flaws and missteps yes, but also her determination, intelligence, and steadfast commitment to improving the lives of millions of women and their families.

    Sanger's view on reproductive rights and fight for universal access to birth control (as well as her controversial teachings on safe sex, child bearing and maternal health) made her a frequent target of those on the religious right. But words like "eugenicist" and "egotistical" have been allowed to mar her story and deter from her accomplishments.

    Margaret Sanger was the 6th daugher of poor parents in Corning, N.Y., who watched her mother endure five more pregnancies before succumbing to tuberculosis at a young age. She trained as a nurse in what became New York's Lower East Side, helping young women deliver child after child, many of whom could not afford to feed their growing families and begged for the "secret" of pregnancy prevention.

    Sanger, in a campaign to fight the injustice of inavailability of pregnancy prevention, wrote books, gave speeches, opened the first women's health clinics in the U.S., and ultimately spawned a birth control movement that would expand around the world.

    She was bold and ruthless, difficult to befriend and often turned away potential collaboration. She ignored the contributions of her co-workers, and left her children for long stretches of time, preferring a life of travel and activism to the comforts and responsibilities of home. But she was effective.

    Born into a world where sex and pregnancy were rarely discussed (much less sex for pleasure and pregnancy by choice) Sanger lived to see the historic creation of the birth control pill and the declaration of birth control as a constitutional right.

    Margaret Sanger, then, was not the perfectly packaged hero we read about in historical textbooks, nor the demon described by the right. In "Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion," we have the unique opportunity to see the activist as she really was: bold, ruthless, compassionate, flawed. And that, I think, is pretty cool. doclink

    The People Problem: Are There Too Many of Us?

    March 01, 2012

    Jane Turville is making a documentary film series called 'The People Problem' to educate the people in the environmental and sustainability communities who view population growth through a very narrow, specific lens that doesn't allow for an inclusive discussion. 'Stop having kids' seems to be their only solution. The other reason for making the series is that those of us who are interested in exploring population growth, don't know or can't relate to the many issues involved, so we have problems even starting a broader discussion.

    Why don't people well-versed in sustainability issues feel as comfortable talking about the number of people on the planet as they do about ending oil dependence or shopping locally? We think over-population is an issue, but to talk about it feels like we somehow support forcing people to give up basic human rights. And, face it, telling someone they can't have kids IS impinging on the basic human right to choose the size of one's family.

    The majority of the information on population out there is very good and very compelling, but despite all of the data, stories and programs, Jane couldn't figure out very easily exactly how all of this related to her - a white gal, living in a small city in America, trying to live more sustainably. The hole in the information is "how does it apply to me."

    Last year, she decided to make a film. It is a four-part series that will be marketed to public broadcasting stations in North America as well as international venues. Material from the four-hour series will also be used to create a 90-minute documentary suitable for public screenings and film festivals. The goal is to broadcast the film in Spring 2015.

    Many ideas float around regarding over-population. Everything from remaining childless for the sake of the planet, placing limits on health access for seniors, and building walls to eliminate immigration. All of these ideas have one thing in common. They all diminish personal choice. Most of us (including myself) value the freedom to choose your own destiny as a basic human right. Yet, people fear that talking about population growth is, in fact, a discussion on the removal of this basic human right.

    Most population information is presented through numbers, charts and graphs. While the information is compelling, it's really hard to take data presented in this form and apply it to yourself. So, it's easy to conclude that it's someone else's issue and that responsibility lies elsewhere.

    The film will present population issues in a way that (a) alleviates fear about discussing population and (b) translates compelling data into stories that resonate with mainstream citizens.

    Using the nesting basket sustainability model as a framework, the film will weave interviews with professionals into the stories of three families located in America, Brazil and China. The data explained by professionals is immediately illustrated through each family's story. By showing the data's real-world applications for real families, the film will help viewers relate with statistical information and at the same time, bring to light the role of affluence and consumerism in population issues, dispelling the myth that it is a third world problem. We'll also take a look at population throughout history.

    In the 'nesting basket' model, the first basket represents earth's natural systems, which should be healthy and abundant. The second basket rests inside the first and represents society, which thrives only when nested in a healthy environment. The third basket nests in the social basket and represents the economy, which remains stable when the baskets it rests in are strong. This structure achieves the balance required for a sustainable society.

    If humans are going to make educated decisions about the environment, social issues and economies, population has to be part of the conversation. We shouldn't be afraid to talk about it. We shouldn't shrug it off as someone else's problem. If you want to be the catalyst that brings a balanced discussion into homes, churches, classrooms, and boardrooms, you should support this project.

    .. http to make a donation to the making of this film. doclink

    Karen Gaia: Calling it the 'People Problem' can be another problem. Too many bad connotations.

    Right-Wingers Bash Gore for Wanting Women to Have Access to Birth Control: Gore's Radical Agenda: Save Babies, Educate Girls, Empower Women

    June 22, 2011, Grist Magazine

    by Lisa Hymas, Grist's senior editor

    Al Gore criticizing Obama for inaction on climate drew a lot of attention from the mainstream media, but when Al Gore said we should educate girls, keep kids from dying, and make birth control available to women, the right-wing media cranked up.

    Gore gave one of most mild and noncontroversial statements anyone could make about population: "One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principal ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women. You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children to have, the spacing of the children. You have to lift child-survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families. And most important, you have to educate girls and empower women. And that's the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices."

    He didn't say governments should make people have fewer children. He didn't say people ought to decide on their own to have fewer children.

    But climate denier Anthony Watts says "Al Gore branches out into population control theory."

    Joe Newby at Examiner.com "Al Gore promotes having fewer children to curb pollution," a good idea, but not what Gore said.

    Billy Hallowell at The Blaze said "Gore said that couples need to learn to 'feel comfortable having small families' so that pollution can be curbed," while Gore actually said that parents might "feel comfortable having small families" if they were confident their kids wouldn't die young.

    Conservatives seem to need to maintain their favorite stereotype of greens as fascist quasi-eugenicists who want to control population via tyranny. Some of them need to find plausible-sounding excuses to go after contraception.

    It's almost hard to believe that there are still Americans who object to birth control -- more than 99% of American women who've had intercourse have used contraception, including 98% of Catholic women.86% of Americans say the availability of the Pill has been a good thing for society.

    Hard-core right-wingers want to stop women from using birth control. Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian (R), said: "Well of course it's a war on birth control."

    Who's got the radical agenda? doclink

    Karen Gaia: I have no problem with radical conservatives having such an opinion, but their attempts to legislate their version of morality threaten the rest of us. Unfortunately, many of their gurus rely on ranting instead of science, and those that talk the loudest and use the most hyperbole get the most attention. The Population Research Institute (a misleading name) perpetuate many of the lies that radical conservatives believe.

    Indian Ideas, Models

    March 24, 2011, The Economic Times (India)

    Bill and Melinda Gates, cochairs of the world's largest private foundation, are in India to talk about healthcare.

    "India is a hotbed of innovation. The ideas and healthcare interventions we work on here can help solve world's problems, be it in Guatemala , Zambia or elsewhere," said Melinda Gates in Delhi.

    "While India's economy is growing at a fast pace, the country is also home to half of the world's malnourished children" .. "notably in Bihar which has a population of 98 million and one of the worst affected by the burden of disease".

    Since 2003, the foundation has invested more than $1.2 billion in projects aimed at improving public health and development outcomes in the country. In India, the foundation focuses mainly on women and child care, eradication of polio, malaria and HIV.

    Mr Gates said the foundation is open to working with the government on its family planning services.

    "Bihar has an immense capacity to innovate. If it were a country , it would be the 12th largest in the world. Some of the things we have done here can be taken to other regions as well,' Gates said. Even things like getting men to deliver vaccines on cycles and training women to deliver them to target populations have made immense impact on improving healthcare. doclink

    Gates Warns of Pressure on Health Aid

    January 24, 2010, Financial Times

    Funding for health is being squeezed out by donor support for climate change, says Bill Gates, one of the world's leading philanthropists.

    Mr Gates himself is stepping up investment in carbon-free energy and green technology.

    "If just 1 per cent of the $100 billion goal [for carbon reduction] came from vaccine funding, then 700,000 more children could die from preventable diseases. In the long run, not spending on health is a bad deal for the environment because improvements in health, including voluntary family planning, lead people to have smaller families, which in turn reduces the strain on the environment."

    Gates, in an interview with the Financial Times, said that, by tackling child mortality, his existing programmes were helping reduce the birth rate and cut demographic pressure, while work on improved agricultural crops that were drought resistant was helping to deal with the consequences of global warming.

    Gates felt that energy consumption would not be sufficient to tackle climate change; the best solution for global warming was for-profit investment in new carbon-free energy technologies. doclink

    Billionaire Club in Bid to Curb Overpopulation; America's Richest People Meet to Discuss Ways of Tackling a 'disastrous' Environmental, Social and Industrial Threat

    May 24, 2009, Times Online

    David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of Americas wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey met to consider spending some of their wealth on slowing the growth of the worlds population and speed up improvements in health and education.

    They met in secret to discuss joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change, and they didn't want to be seen as a global cabal. These members of the "Good Club", one member dubbed it, have given away more than 45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

    The issues debated included reforming the supervision of overseas aid spending to setting up rural schools and water systems in developing countries. Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

    Gates, who is giving away most of his fortune, said last February, Official projections say the worlds population will peak at 9.3 billion [today the population is 6.86 billion, growing at about 1 billion every 12 years] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion. doclink

    Ted Turner on Going Green

    April 14, 2008, Sunday Paper

    The Ted Turner Foundation supports efforts for improving air and water quality, developing sustainable energy resources, safeguarding environmental health, maintaining wildlife habitat protection and developing practices and policies to curb population growth rates. Underlying Ted Turner's endeavors is a dedication to conservation and the environment. The average food item in the US travels more than 1,000 miles from where it's grown to where it's consumed. If you ordered dinner sent from California and had to pay the transportation cost, it's just ridiculous.

    Humanity is facing such a crisis caused by mainly two things: First, the increasing number of people. Just 70 years ago, there were two billion people on earth. Now there's 6 and a half billionthree and a half times as many people! Human beings are overwhelming the environment, and that's what's leading to problems like global warming and the hole in the ozone layer. The second problem is that we're using more stuff. In America, the average home today is twice the square footage it was 70 tears ago. Now everybody stops by the grocery store every day or two or stops by the fast food place to get something. To get things turned around it's going to take government, individuals, everything we have. We're going to have to have a new renaissance of intelligent planning for the future.

    We didn't go along with Kyoto. We should have been fighting a war against global warming rather than a war against the Iraqis. doclink

    Funding, Politics News

    Update on UNFPA Funding: US Congress Earmarks Funding for FY 2003

    September 2002, realcities.com

    Both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees have passed 2003 legislation that earmarks funding for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and modifies restrictions that were used by President Bush to justify defunding the world's leading multilateral family planning agency, a startling reversal not only of legislation passed unanimously in the US Senate and by a 3-to-1 margin in the House, but also of previous Administration policy. doclink

    Global Family Planning Can Help Save the Planet

    June 16, 2001, The Orlando Sentinel

    , by John Flicker , The aircraft V-22 Osprey is expected to cost $40 billion. For this amount our national forests could be restored to health, watersheds preserved and endangered species protected. Or perhaps it should be invested in international family planning. The basic cause of all environmental destruction is the demand of an ever-increasing population for more and more resources. As world population grows the demands of humans is likely to triple within a single generation and thousands of animal species will pass into extinction. It also implies increasing infant and maternal mortality, rising unemployment, escalating social and economic instability. A billion teenagers are entering their reproductive years and their choices will determine the fate of our planet. No investment can match family planning yet as the world population has climbed 60% U.S. family planning has declined 40%. We spend less than three one-hundredths of 1% of the federal budget on family planning in the developing world. While the Osprey is an airplane that does not work, family planning does. Increased access to contraception always results in a fall in birth rates. Millions of women have little or no access to family planning and fully funding family planning makes a whole lot of sense. doclink

    Counting the Cost of Family Planning

    June 20, 2012, Mail and Guardian

    The number of women who would like to avoid having another baby but who are not using modern contraception is now around 222 million, says Guttmacher Institute.

    July 11 there will be a family planning summit in London where how much money is needed, what it should pay for and whether the fundamentally important issues of women's reproductive rights will be addressed will be discussed, and where the Gates Foundation, DfID and others will be soliciting money pledges.

    Currently, $4 billion is spent on family planning in the developing world every year. That saves $5.6 billion which would otherwise have been spent on women and children through unwanted pregnancies and births. $8.1 billion is needed to meet the total need for contraception - double current spending. But that would also more than double the savings from unwanted pregnancies to a total of $11.3 billion. That is $1.40 for every dollar spent.

    Dr Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute, told us that there are programmatic issues beyond contraceptive supplies that need attention if we are going to be successful in meeting the goals of the summit. One of the reasons women tell us they are not using a method of contraception is that they are very worried about side-effects and long-term health risks. Many of the things they think they understand about long-term contraception are not true. Many women even in the US underestimate the effectiveness of modern contraceptives and by far overestimate the side-effects.

    It is also necessary to raise the overall knowledge of women and their partners about contraception. That probably needs to start in schools. There needs to be a bigger effort in public health education. A lot of developing countries have very good policies around sex education but nothing is happening on the ground.

    There also needs to be new forms for contraception, pointing out that women who do not want any more children may be using them for 25 years - a long time not to slip up.

    Meanwhile Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and others want to ensure the clock is not turned back to a time when the talk was of population control, not women's choices. Sexual and reproductive health and rights should be at the centre of the London discussions, they say in a declaration:

    "Our experience, built over decades of work around the world, has taught us that the failure to take actions guided by women's human rights - to health, to life, to live free from discrimination among others - can have devastating consequences. Policies that accept or tacitly condone forced sterilization, the coercive provision of contraceptives, and the denial of essential services to the young, poor and marginalized women that need them every day have violated, and continue to violate, women's human rights."

    The summit is taking place on World Population Day, which some think ominous. This must be about enabling women to choose, overcoming all sorts of barriers to having as large or small a family as they want, from ensuring there is a well-stocked family planning clinic nearby to being free of social, cultural and religious pressures either for or against more babies. doclink

    Rio+20 Outcome Document, "The Future We Want," Silent on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

    June 22, 2012, Population Action International

    "The outcomes from Rio +20 will set the agenda for a new development paradigm reaching beyond 2015!" was one of the many expectations for the Rio+20 conference. But people from every sector - oceans, food security, education, energy - all will express disappointment.

    For those of us advancing the sexual and reproductive rights of women, Rio+20 has been particularly disappointing. The Rio +20 outcome document, "The Future We Want," is silent on sexual and reproductive rights, and, during the negotiations, many of the EU and G77 countries who have been progressive on these issues in the past were completely silent.

    Despite encouragement from the U.S. and a handful of other countries to protect and support women's rights, these "allies" said nothing and did nothing as the Holy See, Malta, Poland, Algeria, and other conservative countries rolled back the clock on women's rights.

    At the same time, the Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA released a study showing that in the 69 poorest countries, the need actually increased from 153 to 162 million women between 2008 and 2012. doclink

    Clinton: Family Planning Key to Sustainability

    June 22, 2012, New York Times

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the last day of the Rio+20 United Nations conference that "women must be empowered to make decisions on whether and when to have children" if the world is to attain agreed-upon sustainable development goals.

    She applauded the final document's endorsement of women's sexual and reproductive health which, in its initial draft said "We are committed to ensure the equal access of women and girls to education, basic services, economic opportunities, and health care services, including addressing women's sexual and reproductive health and their reproductive rights," but in the final draft, the stronger wording "We are committed to ensure the equal access" was switched to the weaker "We are committed to promote equal access," and the reference to reproductive rights was deleted altogether, after opposition from the G-77, a negotiating bloc of developing countries at the United Nations, and the Holy See.

    An envoy of Pope Benedict XVI, reiterated the Vatican's position that "all human life, from conception until natural death, has the same worth and deserves the same dignity."

    Leaders from other countries, including Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Iceland, Switzerland and Israel fought to keep the reference to reproductive rights, as did nongovernmental organizations promoting human rights and women's rights.

    Peggy Clark, from the Aspen Institute said "The ability to choose the number, spacing and timing of children is not a luxury. It is a basic human right, one that has already been affirmed by the world community at the Cairo and Beijing conferences."

    "The key word is access, above all for women," Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said. "In Brazil, we are investing to overcome difficulties and poor access to public health services that would allow the full exercise of sexual and reproductive rights, including family planning." doclink

    There is No Sustainable Development Without a Sustainable Population - Suzanne York

    February 14, 2012, Bay Citizen

    Rio+20 (the UN Conference on Sustainable Development conference) seems to be skirting the population issue. Of the seven critical issues for Rio, listed on the UNCSD website, population isn't one of them. The one paragraph which does talk about it accurately states the situation the world is facing:

    "We are deeply concerned that around 1.4 billion people still live in extreme poverty and one sixth of the world's population is undernourished, pandemics and epidemics are omnipresent threats. Unsustainable development has increased the stress on the earth's limited natural resources and on the carrying capacity of ecosystems. Our planet supports seven billion people expected to reach nine billion by 2050."

    The draft document addresses sustainable development goals, including sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as priority areas such as oceans; food security and sustainable agriculture; sustainable energy for all; water access and efficiency; sustainable cities; green jobs, decent work and social inclusion; and disaster risk reduction and resilience. All of these are important, but since population growth affects all of them, it should be directly addressed by the Rio agenda.

    Kim Lovell, with the Sierra Club's Global Population and Environment Program, said that "Rio provides a rare opportunity to have a global conversation about sustainable development solutions that protect human rights, improve community and environmental health, and preserve resources for future generations. Slowing population growth by ensuring access to voluntary family planning and education for women and girls is essential in this pursuit. "... "When women are educated and have the ability to plan their family size, they tend to have smaller, healthier families - and with solutions like these that improve lives and lessen pressure on scarce resources, what better venue than Rio to engage stakeholders at all levels to take local, national, and global action?"

    In September 2011, the UNFPA called the failure to address population in Rio+20 a step backwards and said that failure to cover it would undermine efforts to promote sustainable development. Viable solutions would address voluntary family planning, women's rights, and conservation, as well as poverty alleviation, reduction of inequality and unsustainable levels of consumption. The world cannot afford another global conference with modest or weak results.

    What you can do to get population on the agenda: Go to Rio de Janeiro and join in civil society activities, such as The People's Summit, a parallel event to Rio+20 being held Jun. 15- 23, 2012. doclink

    Canada: Pregnancy, Haunted by Death

    December 8, 2011, Ottawa Citizen

    Ghana's former high commissioner to Canada, the late Richard Turkson, spoke at the screening in Ottawa of the documentary Empty-handed, about the lack of access to contraceptives in Uganda. Citing a passage from the Book of Genesis in the Bible: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and conception; in sorrow thou shall bring forth children ...", Turkson said "Men have long misinterpreted this passage as a mandate to lord it over women and show very little concern, if any, for women's fertility-related problems,"

    "Over time, God's anger seems to have abated in many parts of the world; it appears, however, that in sub-saharan Africa, it continues unabated. Women's lives (there) are largely governed by unnecessarily hazardous pregnancies and child bearing; similarly, their death is often dictated by pregnancy and child birth. Worse still, everywhere in Africa, it is the women, not the men, who suffer from mutilation, disease and death in pursuit of the high premium we traditionally place on fertility, particularly on male children."

    The fight to get contraceptives into the hands of African women is far from over.

    The Canadian government - although it has led a G8 push for improved maternal health in the developing world - needs to hear this message, since it appears to remain lukewarm to family planning as a key to reducing maternal deaths, and as a development tool. That makes it unusual among western nations, according to some. Canada is not represented at the Senegal conference.

    Susan Cohen, director of government affairs at the Guttmacher Institute said Canada was an outlier and "Canadians were dragging their feet on the investment in family planning."

    Canada's $1-billionplus commitment to reducing maternal mortality did include family planning, but not abortion. However Canada's maternal health funding is only about $13 million of about $800 million so far - something critics say isn't nearly enough.

    Cohen said "It is impossible to achieve the millennium development goal (of reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters) without investing in maternal and newborn health as well as family planning." The number of women in the world who want contraception and can't get them - is estimated at 215 million. Better access to contraceptives would not only reduce maternal deaths, reduce unsafe abortions and improve the health of newborns, because their births would not be spaced so closely together, it would increase education rates among women.

    Canadian women have long taken for granted what many women in the developing world don't have- control over when they have children.

    Britain, on the other hand, has made family planning a "major priority" according to Stephen O'Brien, parliamentary undersecretary of state for Britain's department of International Development, who attended the Senegal family planning conference.

    "Having children should bring joy," he said during a conference call from Senegal. "For far too many women, having children amounts to a death sentence. ... Family planning is a smart, simple and extremely cost effective investment."

    One of the messages from the Senegal conference was that family planning is a key to improving not only the health of women and children, but a country's economic health as well. doclink

    U.S.: Colorado Amendment 62 Classifies Eggs or Sperm as a 'Person'

    October 26, 2010

    Proposed Amendment 62 says: "Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term "person" shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being."

    If this bill passes, a woman with ovarian cancer could not have her ovaries removed in Colorado and a doctor who performed such a lifesaving surgery would be punished for murder!

    Anyone knows that the start of the biological development is the human egg, and that girls are born with all the eggs that their ovaries will ever contain. So removing an ovary (even if diseased) would mean the removal of thousands of "persons".

    A woman whose doctorate is in biochemistry and is loosely associated with Georgetown University wrote this wording. An ethicist against abortion, what she has framed is so poorly defined that the above scenario is possible.

    This proposed amendment is unclear, unsupportable, andis misogyninistic and it would cost the state of Colorado millions of dollars to implement. Only the lawyers would profit if it is passed.

    One current legal definition of "person" is "an autonomous being". This foolish proposed amendment would certainly change that, since a fetus, embryo or egg are anything but autonomous! Passing the amendment would make major changes in the legal world, and would keep Colorado's lawyers employed for years trying to figure out the ramifications.

    This is clearly a case of infringement of our constitutional rights when one person's religion interferes with the ability of another person to seek medical care. The supporters of this proposed amendment don't stop with facts.

    Many of the same people who are against abortion are also against any contraception. They claim, against the judgment of most reputable scientists, that IUDs, emergency contraception and even “the pill" work by causing an abortion. If this crazy amendment were passed, all of these birth control methods might become unavailable in Colorado.

    This amendment has no provision for abortion in cases of rape, incest or when a pregnancy endangers the mother's life. This proposed amendment would make interrupting a pregnancy illegal—including saving the life of the mother! Even the strict “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops" allows interrupting an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, because the pregnancy threatens a woman's life. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Don't forget all the poor sperm that are wasted during a wet dream and never get a chance to live and then there are the eggs that are thoughtlessly flushed down the toilet during womens' monthly menses. This measure failed on Nov 2nd - http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34002, but proponents of the measure are determined to try it again.