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Politico Examines Republican Party's Abortion Platform In Relation To Other Countries' Policies

Politico examines the Republican Party’s stance on abortion policy compared with abortion laws in other countries worldwide, stating, “No other nation in the Western world restricts abortion as severely as the Republican Party is calling for in its draft platform.” The article cites statistics regarding other nations’ abortion-related laws from the U.N. report “World Abortion Policies 2011.” According to Politico, “Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican nominee, says he does not support a ban on abortions under any circumstances. He has said it should be allowed in cases of rape or incest. But the Republican National Committee slapped him down.” The article continues, “‘This is the platform of the Republican Party,’ committee Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC on Tuesday. ‘It’s not the platform of Mitt Romney’” (Brinkley, 8/27).

Reuters Examines Debate Over Proposed Reproductive Health Bill In The Philippines

Reuters examines how Philippine President Benigno Aquino is supporting “a reproductive health bill that will, if passed by the two houses of Congress, guarantee access to free birth control and promote sex education,” despite the “country’s powerful Catholic church.” According to the news service, “The predominately Catholic country has one of Asia’s fastest-growing populations together with significant levels of chronic poverty,” which has stunted economic growth. “Economists say high population growth is a primary factor for that, but the church … says population growth is not a cause of poverty and that people need jobs, not contraception,” Reuters writes. “But despite the arguments of the church and political opponents who decry using state funds to finance contraception, a poll last year showed about 70 percent of people support the bill,” according to the news service, which notes, “Its backers want it passed during the term of this congress, which ends in June” (Lema, 10/2).

Uruguay's Congress Approves Bill To Legalize Abortion During First Trimester

“Uruguay’s Congress voted narrowly on Wednesday to legalize abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a rare move in largely Catholic Latin America that underscores the country’s liberal leanings,” Reuters reports. “President Jose Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla fighter, has said he would sign the bill into law,” the news service notes (Castaldi, 10/17). “[T]he bill approved by Uruguay’s Senate came after a pointed debate among legislators, producing a compromise that disappointed both abortion-rights groups and opponents, who have vowed to carry out a referendum to overturn the legislation,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Legislators carefully worded the bill, describing it not as legalization of abortion but as a decriminalization measure.” The newspaper writes, “The bill effectively legalizes abortion in the first trimester, permits abortion through 14 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape and allows later-term abortions when a woman’s health is at risk” (Romero et al., 10/17).

Also In Global Health News: WHO Flu Response; Sanitation In Mozambique; Interfaith HIV/AIDS Summit; HIV/AIDS In Uganda; South African Hospital Renovations; HIV Vaccine Development

Chan Defends WHO’s Response To H1N1 On Tuesday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan defended her agency’s response to the H1N1 flu pandemic saying, “I personally do not believe that WHO exaggerated the threat,” and that “[a] new disease is, by definition, poorly understood as it emerges,” Reuters reports. Chan continued, “Had…

Also In Global Health News: Active TB Genetic Marker Found; African Bishops Fight HIV; Polio Eradication; PEPFAR In Dominican Republic

Active TB “Genetic Signature” Found Researchers have identified a “genetic signature” in the blood of active tuberculosis patients in the U.K. and South Africa that could one day lead to a test to predict who among latent carriers might develop the disease, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Reuters reports…

Muslim Women, Religious Leaders Being Enlisted In Global Campaign To Eradicate Polio

“The last three countries where polio is still paralyzing children — Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria — said on Thursday that they have enlisted Muslim women and religious leaders to allay fears of vaccination and wipe out the disease,” Reuters reports. According to Shahnaz Wazir Ali, a special assistant to Pakistan’s Prime Minister who is in charge of the polio eradication campaign, more than 20 leading Islamic scholars “have signed an endorsement of the polio eradication program, which is being used to persuade Pakistani parents” to allow their children to be vaccinated, the news agency writes. In Nigeria, the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations is backing a polio immunization campaign there, Reuters notes. “It is not the first time that the world has come tantalizingly close to wiping out the crippling disease,” the news agency writes. “‘We’re so close, there is no time for complacency,’ Dr. Christopher Elias, head of global development at the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], a major donor, told Reuters in Geneva,” Reuters adds (Nebehay, 5/24).

PRI’s ‘The World’ Examines Role Of Churches In Fight Against HIV In Swaziland

PRI’s “The World” examines the role of churches in the fight against HIV in Swaziland. The news service highlights several church-run HIV programs, writing, “Churches have long played an important role in caring for the sick, but in terms of HIV prevention they’ve been at odds with the public health community. It has often come down to one issue: until recently, Swazi church leaders publicly rejected the use of condoms by their congregants. But now you hear many comments that suggest a change in thinking.”

Lutheran Malaria Initiative Holds Advocacy Day On Capitol Hill

In the U.N. Foundation Blog, Gretchen King, director of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI), examines the efforts of LMI to “mobiliz[e] U.S. Lutherans in the global effort to end malaria deaths in Africa.” She writes, “While much of our campaign has focused on U.S. Lutherans, recently LMI held its first advocacy day on Capitol Hill,” adding, “We shared with several members of Congress and their staffs the work of LMI, the importance of continued U.S. bilateral funding for anti-malaria programs, and strong support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” (12/11).

U.N. Member States Gather In New York For 57th Meeting Of Commission On The Status Of Women

“Member states of the United Nations will gather in New York for the next two weeks to discuss the elimination of violence against women and girls,” GlobalPost’s “Rights” blog reports, noting “the United Nations’ annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will hold meetings, discussions, debate and make decisions on how…

New Pope Should Consider ‘Hidden Burden’ Of NTDs

“Almost certainly, in its deliberations [to select a new Pope,] the conclave of cardinals will consider a number of difficult and well-publicized problems now facing the Catholic Church,” Peter Hotez, co-editor in chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, writes in the journal’s “Speaking of Medicine” blog. “However, one issue I…