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Loss Of U.S. Funding For UNFPA 'Would Be Devastating' To Family Planning Services In Developing Countries

“By voting to ban any U.S. contribution to UNFPA” in the FY 2013 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday “made a judgment call that saving the lives of women and girls around the world is simply not a U.S. priority,” Valerie DeFillipo, president of Friends of UNFPA, writes in a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. She notes that “[c]ommittee members voted against amendments that would permit funding to UNFPA for preventing and treating obstetric fistula, ending female genital mutilation, and providing family planning services and contraceptive supplies in nine sub-Saharan African countries with high rates of poverty and maternal mortality where USAID does not provide family planning assistance.”

Women's Rights To Family Planning Should Not Be Controversial

“There should be #NoControversy about a woman’s right to plan when and how many children to have, to have the opportunity to improve her own health and that of her children, to educate her children and to grow her family’s economic productivity,” Gary Darmstadt, head of the family health division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the family health division, write in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. The authors highlight a recent TEDxChange talk by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, in which “she addresses the issues surrounding birth control and how it is literally life-saving for millions of women and children around the world.” They continue, “But of course, any time politics, religion, and sex are intertwined, controversy tends to emerge,” and discuss several viewpoints that have emerged in media coverage of the issue (5/14).

CNN Reports On China’s ‘One-Child Policy,’ Implications For Women

CNN reports on how “[t]he issue of forced abortions — and in some cases, forced sterilizations — in China has seized the spotlight in recent days with news of escaped activist Chen Guangcheng,” who “rose to fame in the late 1990s because of his advocacy for what he calls victims of abusive practices, such as forced abortions, by Chinese family planning officials.” China’s so-called “one-child policy has been blamed for abuses,” the news service reports. The news service writes, “In some cases, advocates say, fetuses identified as female are aborted, … abandoned, left to die or raised as orphans,” as “Chinese traditionally prefer boys over girls.” CNN describes several reports from women’s health advocates working in China of women undergoing forced abortion and sterilization; a report from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, “created by Congress to monitor human rights and the rule of law in China”; and the State Department’s 2009 Human Rights Report, the news service notes.

UNFPA Director Urges India To Address Family Planning Needs

India “has to actively and aggressively address the issue of family planning” in order to improve human development indicators, including health, education and living standards, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said Wednesday, Reuters reports. “India, Asia’s third-largest economy, is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation by 2030,” but, “despite its impressive economic growth over the last two decades, it has failed to substantially reduce hunger as well as child and maternal mortality rates,” the news service writes, noting that “[a]bout 60 percent of Indian women have no access to family planning services.”

Congressional Appropriations Decisions Will Affect Women's Health Worldwide

“[E]vidence shows that family planning prevents the needless deaths of women worldwide,” which should “be cause to sustain or even increase U.S. investments in these programs,” Chloe Cooney, director of global advocacy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), writes in this RH Reality Check blog post. “Yet, once again, the House Appropriations Committee voted to let politics interfere with life-saving health care for women,” she continues, adding, “Last week, the House Appropriations Committee proposed to cut funding for international family planning programs and impose harmful restrictions on women’s access to essential health care.” Cooney notes that the Senate version of the bill “increases support for international family planning without attaching restrictions that would undercut these efforts.” She cites a recent U.N. report that “confirms that birth control and reproductive health services are essential to saving women’s lives,” and concludes, “The impact of the decisions made by this Congress will be felt in the lives of women and families around the world” (5/22).

Ethiopian Government Collaborating With USAID, Partners To Improve Access To Family Planning

In this USAID “IMPACTblog” post, Abiy Shewarega of the USAID | Deliver Project, Ethiopia, describes the Ethiopian Ministry of Health’s commitment to improving family planning through programs that, in the past six years, have “seen a rapid increase in contraceptive use and a decline in the average number of births per woman.” He discusses the importance of supply chain and logistics activities, concluding, “Availability of family planning commodities does more than simply support better health for women and their children. As a result of the continued commitment of the Ethiopian government and collaboration with USAID, women … are not only able to maintain good health for themselves and their families, but can also secure the family income, send their children to school, and improve the family’s potential for the future” (5/22).

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Addresses World Medical Association In Geneva

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published on its website a transcript of a speech about women’s health, delivered by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the World Medical Association in Geneva on Tuesday. “For too long, too many women and girls have had their lives marred by illness or disability, just because they didn’t have access to health services. When we deprive women of the care and support they need to stay healthy or get well, we’re also robbing them of hope for the future. … So under President Obama, we’re putting a new focus on women’s health — at home and abroad,” she said, according to the transcript (5/22).

U.N. SG Ban Praises Commission On Life-Saving Commodities, Says More Effort Needed To Improve Maternal, Child Mortality Rates

At the opening of the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the commission but “said that much remains to be done to save the lives of the 800 women and more than 20,000 children who die every day from preventable causes,” the U.N. News Centre reports (5/22). Devex notes that the commission “aims to increase access to lifesaving medicine and health supplies, … includ[ing] oxytocin, which helps stop bleeding among mothers after giving birth, and antibiotics such as amoxicillin, which treats pneumonia among newborns.” The commission finalized its recommendations on Tuesday, the news service notes (Ravelo, 5/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.