GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog features an interview with Ellen Starbird, deputy director of the Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID, and Judy Manning, health development officer in USAID’s Research, Technology and Utilization Division, who discuss “family planning and reproductive health issues, including new innovations and promising technologies still in the research stage.” Starbird says that funding for family planning programs is critical for “making possible for women in the developing world the kinds of choices that women all over the developed world have” (Donnelly, 8/1).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
U.N. agencies “are shying away from the politically volatile topic [of abortion], despite mounting evidence that restricted abortion access contributes to maternal deaths and constitutes a violation of a woman’s human rights,” Women’s eNews reports.
The Global Democracy Promotion Act (.pdf), recently introduced in the House by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), “would bar the use of U.S. foreign aid to restrict people’s liberty â€¦ [and] says that organizations accepting U.S. assistance cannot be forced to quash perfectly legal activities in return,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America Vice President Latanya Mapp Frett writes in a New York Daily News opinion piece. She says the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s recent vote to reinstate and expand the so-called “global gag rule” would “foste[r] unintended pregnancy, increasing the need for abortion and endangering women’s health.”
The current issue of Science magazine features a special section that explores issues surrounding population growth, “many of which continue to split demographers,” according to the section’s introduction. “Debate continues over â€¦ whether rapid population growth is best dealt with by expanding family planning programs or implementing policies that will improve livelihoods and increase the education of girls and young women â€“ or both. Still, many experts remain optimistic that with the right mix of policies, countries can harness the opportunities for economic growth and development offered by a young and educated workforce, congregating in dense, networked urban environments,” Science reports (Chin/Marathe/Roberts, 7/29).
In a guest post on the GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, describes the Malawian government’s “plans to launch a ‘test and treat’ program in which all HIV-infected pregnant women will immediately be put on antiretroviral treatment (ART) drugs for life.” But she adds that “[t]he growing political and economic crisis in Malawi, highlighted by the government’s use of force against peaceful demonstrators last week, could also imperil the groundbreaking expansion of Malawi’s national HIV/AIDS program.”
“When women are healthy and empowered, they can spark a ripple effect in their families, communities and nations that can lead to lower rates of poverty and stronger economic growth and productivity,” Tamara Kreinin, executive director of women and population at the United Nations Foundation, writes in a “RH Reality Check” blog post. “By voting to reduce funding for international reproductive health and family planning activities, eliminate funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), and reinstate the Global Gag Rule, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs threatens to turn back the clock on women’s health and has taken its disturbing war on women to a global stage,” she writes, referring to the House FY12 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (7/27).
The contentious nature of abortion in American politics is “distracting U.S. policymakers from what should be the real conversation in a country that leads the world in human reproductive technology: whether to allow parents to use a growing range of methods to select for characteristics like sex (or diseases that come on late in life and, perhaps one day, IQ) in their children. Because sex selection is not just a developing world problem â€“ it’s an American problem, too,” Mara Hvistendahl, a Beijing-based correspondent with Science magazine, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday released the FY12 Foreign Relations Authorization Act “that slashes State Department funding and foreign aid,” The Hill’s “On The Money” blog reports (Wasson, 7/26).
Following a House Foreign Affairs Committee vote last week to reinstate and expand the “global gag rule” in the FY12 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR 2583), GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog features an interview with “Craig Lasher, theÂ director of U.S. government relations at Population Action International, about the global gag rule,…
The New York Times on Saturday examined research into several different methods of male contraception. “Male contraceptives are attracting growing interest from scientists, who believe they hold promise for being safe, effective and, also important, reversible,” the newspaper writes. “Prompted by women’s organizations, global health groups and surveys indicating that men are receptive, federal agencies are financing research. Some methods will be presented at an October conference sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” according to the newspaper (Belluck, 7/23).