Human Rights Policy and Nonprofit Organizational Development

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Radio News: Story on repro rights for WBAI

In Policy Blog on April 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I have been working with Fran Luck, one of the co-hosts of WBAI’s feminist program, Joy of Resistance, on news stories for several months.  Archives of the stories are available here.  The following is a suite of coverage on reproductive health setbacks- one story on Canadian foreign aid and updates from several U.S. states.  The stories ran Thursday, April 1, 2010.

The Canadian Foreign Affairs ministry has reported that it will no longer support family planning supplies, or even services, in its aid funding to developing countries.  The country has chosen to focus its foreign aid instead on water, vaccinations and nutrition, and ostensibly on improving maternal and child health.  When questioned about the exclusion if contraception and family planning services, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper simply repeated, “We are going to focus on saving lives.”  
Ironically, hundreds of thousands of women die every year all over the world because of lack of access to contraception of family planning services.  Critics believe that the exclusion is basically equating family planning with abortion, and that the Foreign Affairs committee has caved to international anti-abortion pressure. 
The International Planned Parenthood Federation previously received $6 million annually from the Canadian International Development Agency.  Says its executive Director-General, “The evidence is indisputable: Family planning saves lives… No country has made significant inroads to improving maternal, newborn and child health without also ensuring widespread access to family planning.”
Reproductive health foes have been active in the U.S. as well.  In addition to restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion in the healthcare reform package, several states are considering legislation that would further limit a woman’s right to choose. 
In COLORADO, a so-called “personhood” initiative will be on the November ballot.  The proposed legislation would define personhood as starting “from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”  A similar but less-stringent ballot measure was defeated in 2008 by a large majority. 
In better news for women, however, Colorado’s governor signed a law on Tuesday banning gender-rating, a practice whereby insurance companies charge women more for their coverage than men. Colorado joins a dozen other states which ban the practice, effectively closing a gender-rating loophole present in the federal health-care reform package. 
The KANSAS State Legislature is debating a law that would restrict abortion after 21 weeks.  The bill could require doctors to report the medical reasons for any abortion taking place after that time, threatening women’s right to confidentiality.
In SOUTH CAROLINA, abortion foes are taking a different tack to make abortion services increasingly difficult to access by increasing the waiting period
of 24 hours after either having an ultrasound or printing information from the website of the Department of Health and Environmental Control.  This print-out must be time-stamped, which women can have done at sites which offer free ultrasounds.  These sites include Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which have made news recently because of their aggressive tactics and blatant misinformation designed to dissuade women from choosing to have abortions.
State reports taken from the Feminist Majority website