Congress Denies Funding for Fistula, Citing Abortion

Using misinformed arguments and political concerns, the House Appropriations committee rejected an amendment by a vote of 23-30 to direct funds already in the bill to UNFPA’s obstetric fistula prevention and treatment efforts, should the Administration not release the funds for other family planning and women’s empowerment efforts. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick offered this compromise amendment to allow US support to UNFPA for very specific and non-controversial programs, as a constructive response to the Administration blocking the funding for the past four years.

Opponents said that inclusion of this amendment would “make it difficult to pass” the Foreign Operations bill on the floor – so much for meeting the public health needs of some of the world’s poorest women. Others threw their standard complaint into the mix, stating that this (in an extremely circuitous way) somehow supports abortion.

The Rumor Mill: Syria & US Team Up For UN AIDS Meeting

There are growing reports that the United States and a handful of other countries are objecting to certain language (e.g. reference to condoms, sexual and reproductive health – the usual!) in negotiations for a political declaration at next week’s UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. The U.S. negotiating posture is hardly new…nor are its allies in this fight. It seems that the United States’ main ally at the United Nations this week during negotiations on HIV/AIDS has been Syria – yes, the same country that the Administration has declared to be part of the "Axis of Evil."

Rumor Mill hears that the emerging “Axis of Ideology” includes other fundamentalist representatives, all of which want to ignore the evidence as it relates to the importance of human rights, gender equality, comprehensive sexuality education, and sexual and reproductive health services in the fight to stem HIV/AIDS. Apparently, where science is concerned, the axis adheres to a strict, abstinence-only posture.

Pre-Conception Care: Women’s Health as Individuals or Incubators?

Improvements to studies in women’s health have been long overdue and slowly improving. Apparently some of the current policies towards women’s health look past the woman as individual, and see her only as potential incubator. Among them, recently released guidelines from the CDC regarding the status of women and their health care are causing great sparks, particularly in the blogosphere.

According to UPI, the CDC is now recommending that “All women who are able to become pregnant should treat themselves and be treated by healthcare professionals as being pre-pregnant.” This includes preteen girls just beginning menstruation, as well as women who have no plans to become pregnant – ever.

Dr. David Satcher Blasts Bush on HIV: Prevention Taking Backseat to Ideology

Former US Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher joined a coalition of advocates calling on the Bush Administration to promote prevention of HIV/AIDS over pursuit of personal ideological beliefs that endanger the lives of millions, as reported in the Washington Blade.

Satcher was part of a panel discussing the findings in a new report from the Open Society Institute, HIV/AIDS Policy in the United States, Nicaragua, Senegal, Ukraine, Viet Nam.

Ideologues Blocking Public Health Progress World Wide

Today, Rewire welcomes a new regular staff blogger, Andrea Lynch, who will cover international issues from her vantage point in Brighton, England, and later this summer from Nicaragua. Her first blog post Colombia Leads the Way in Latin America coincides with an editorial on the same topic in today's New York Times that states in Colombia and much of Latin America "unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of maternal mortality. The health dangers are not shared equally, as wealthier women can pay competent doctors, while poor ones must resort to unsafe clinics or, worse, do it themselves."

The abortion issue has been dominant in headlines recently. As the importance of it as a public health and women's rights issue matures in other parts of the world, ideological leaders in the US would roll back the progress being made in reducing abortions by keeping them safe, legal and rare.

But what began as an effort to stop abortion by ideologues has become a full frontal attack on a range of reproductive health, highlighted by an attempt to undermine rigorous science in the process. In a world where nothing can be proven, the world the ideologues seek, then nothing can be certain. Science, when current understanding is proven wrong, celebrates advancement and new understanding. Ideologues confronted with fact, cling to flat-earth beliefs, refusing progress.

Colombia Leads the Way in Latin America

At a time when U.S. lawmakers are continually throwing up new barriers to safe and legal abortion, it’s a comfort to know that at least some countries are waking up to the reality that restricting legal abortion is often more of a death sentence than a deterrent for women. In a landmark decision handed down earlier this month in response to a case brought by Colombian lawyer Monica Roa last year, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled 5-3 to decriminalize abortion in cases where a woman’s life or health is in danger, in cases of rape or incest, or under circumstances where a fetal malformation is incompatible with life outside the womb—leaving Chile, El Salvador, and, uhm, South Dakota, with the most restrictive abortion laws in the Western Hemisphere. Ladies of Sioux Falls, book your ticket to Bogotá today…

US UNGASS Delegation Raises a Few Questions

The Administration recently released the list of members for the US delegation to the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS, and it raised some eyebrows – both for the fact that it is so large (with 26 Administration members and 11 from the private sector) and on account of some of those who were selected. For an Administration that has left us all questioning its commitment to evidence-based public health policies, several of these nominees have quite questionable backgrounds on HIV. It appears that ideology is again the most important credential to this Administration.

UN Special Session on HIV: Background on How Ideology Competes with Fact

HIV knows no borders, gender, culture, religion, or class. It is as complex an issue as the world has ever dealt with. This important backgrounder on the far right from Pam Chamberlain and Political Research Associates, points out that, sadly, the latest US export is our polarized politics from people who promote ideology over proven data. If you believe that the UN has an important role to play in finding real world soultions to complex issues, or if you are preparing to be at the UN meetings, this report is a must read.

Around The States: EC Knowledge Is Low, Ballot Initiatives Are Building

In a recent study involving emergency room patients and their knowledge of emergency contraception (EC), researchers found that while 60% of those surveyed did not know how to get the medication, nearly 1/3 of respondents had never heard of EC. The report also found 70% of those surveyed had sex within the last 2 months but fewer than half of the participants used birth control regularly. As the American College of Emergency Physicians convenes this week in Washington DC, we hope that the above information from the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine is shared and appropriate action taken to educate ER personnel.

How About Some New BC?

With news of so-called “new” birth control methods that block periods making headlines in the last several days, lack of research for and approved availability of truly new contraceptive methods can’t be overlooked.  According to Reproductive Health Technologies Project, “…more can and should be done to help close the gap between Americans’ reproductive health needs and the information, technology and services currently available to them.”