The Republican-led House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would prohibit the U.S. government from providing funding to the U.N. Population Fund, an organization “that helps women and children in developing countries with reproductive health and family planning,” Agence France-Presse reports (Cassata, 10/5). “House Republicans say they are pushing the legislation because the fund, known as the UNFPA, is complicit in China’s controversial one-child policy, which enforces abortion and sterilization,” the Huffington Post writes (10/5).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
Use Of Injectable Hormone Contraceptive May Double Risk Of Contracting, Transmitting HIV, Study Shows
“The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV,” according to a study involving 3,800 sero-discordant couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the New York Times reports. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, also found that when the contraceptive was “used by HIV-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception,” the newspaper writes. In addition, the study “found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of HIV infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said,” according to the New York Times.
“In the first study to examine” the effects of a U.S. policy prohibiting foreign aid from going to any organization that performs abortions or provides information about or referral for the procedure as a method of family planning (often called the “Global Gag Rule” or “Mexico City Policy”), Stanford researchers Eran Bendavid and Grant Miller found that “the number of abortions increased in African countries where U.S. support for NGOs was cut the most,” according to a Stanford University news release (Gorlick, 9/28).
China's Family Planning Policy, Lack Of Sex Education To Blame For Rise In Abortions Among Single Women
In this Washington Times opinion piece, Chai Ling, president of the non-profit group All Girls Allowed and author of “A Heart for Freedom,” examines the issue of abortions performed on single women in China in relation to the country’s family planning policy, which in most provinces requires couples to be married to obtain a birth permit, without which they are not permitted to have a child. She writes, “Though the problem of skyrocketing abortion rates among single Chinese women has been highlighted by the media and attributed to a lack of sex education, no one has connected the problem to this tragic equation: no marriage certificate, no birth permit. No birth permit, no baby. Millions of unmarried women in China get pregnant, but none is allowed to give birth to her baby.”
In this Daily Monitor opinion piece, Anthony Masake of the Uganda Law Society stresses the importance of addressing maternal mortality in Uganda and asserts that the country cannot achieve development without increased efforts to meet national maternal health targets. He places emphasis on the need to invest in midwifery and nursing services, among other strategies, writing, “Within the context of inadequate financial resources, mounting health demands, escalating health care costs, rising population, and heightened public expectations, midwifery and nursing services present a platform from which we can scale-up health interventions to assist in meeting national health targets.”
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog features an interview with Frederick Sai, a Ghanaian physician who is a member of Aspen’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health and a former president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and director of population at the World Bank. Sai addresses his interest in reproductive health, motivating leaders to talk about family planning, and how his experience as a medical doctor changed his views on family planning, according to the article (Donnelly, 9/26).
“The number of young people having unprotected sex in the West has risen sharply over the past two years,” according to a global survey conducted by the International Planned Parenthood Federation between April and May of this year, Agence France-Presse reports. The study was funded by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, the news agency notes (9/26). The survey, titled “Clueless or Clued Up: Your right to be informed about contraception,” prepared for World Contraception Day on September 26, “questioned more than 6,000 young people from 26 countries … on their attitudes toward sex and contraception” and “reports that the number of young people having unsafe sex with a new partner increased by 111 percent in France, 39 percent in the USA and 19 percent in Britain in the last three years,” Reuters notes (9/25).
“Young people across the globe are having more unprotected sex and know less about effective contraception options, a multinational survey revealed on Monday,” Reuters reports. “The ‘Clueless or Clued Up: Your Right to be informed about contraception’ study prepared for World Contraception Day (WCD) reports that the number of young people having unsafe sex with a new partner increased by 111 percent in France, 39 percent in the USA and 19 percent in Britain in the last three years,” the news service writes.
Robert Walker, executive vice president of the Population Institute, writes in this Huffington Post opinion piece that despite an increase in government and NGO support for maternal and child health programs, including family planning services, announced last week by the U.N. as part of its Every Woman, Every Child campaign, “the world’s largest donor nation, the United States, is retreating on its commitments to international family planning, and other donor nations may follow suit.”
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog summarizes a recent forum on reproductive health issues during which panel members of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health of Aspen Global Health and Development discussed how “reproductive health was intimately connected to the world’s population boom, climate change, water and sanitation crises, economic downturns, educational rates, and development overall.” The article continues, “And yet, reproductive health and family planning is generally not a focus on the world stage. In fact, the topic is often avoided.”