Posts Tagged ‘reproductive health’

The Global Gag Rule, a harmful human rights violation

March 12, 2017

The Global Gag Rule (GGR) is harmful to women and families and violates human rights. Originally known as the “Mexico City Policy” because it was enacted by Ronald Reagan in 1984 at a conference in Mexico City, the policy is more commonly known as the Global Gag Rule because of how it silences NGOs and health care workers. Specifically, the original policy dictated that no USAID family planning funds could be awarded to organizations that performed or promoted abortion and therefore prohibited them from even speaking about abortion.

The GGR is highly partisan- every Democrat president since Reagan has rescinded the policy and every Republican has reinstated it. The current administration, however, has not only reinstated the GGR but has dramatically expanded the funds that are affected.

Reagan’s version applied to USAID family planning funds; G.W. Bush’s version limited the GGR by exempting USAID HIV/AIDs related work. The latest iteration, however, greatly expands the affected funds to cover all foreign aid arising from any agency or department. The current version restricts up to $9.5 billion in aid, or 16x the amount of funds that would have been affected by previous versions.

Worse yet, beyond being a clear example of religious overreach in US politics and a violation of human rights, evidence suggests that the policy reduces sex education and contraception use while increasing both abortions and the proportion of abortions that result in health complications- maternal, family, and child health all suffer. There is a large coalition of organizations that oppose the GGR. You can take action today by learning more information about the GGR and volunteering or donating to organizations like IPPF, PAI, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who, together with UN member countries, are attempting to counteract the extreme funding deficit.


Reproductive Health in Jordan: A Multi-Faceted Investment in the Future

March 6, 2015

Jordan’s population is rising at exponential rates which, if maintained, will double the population in approximately 27 years.  The cause for this dramatic growth is a high fertility rate coupled with the population demographic – 60% of Jordan’s population is under the age of 25Jordan is already heavily dependent on imported goods and resources at current time, and if the population growth is sustained at its current rate, the country will no longer be able to sustain itself adequately. The Government of Jordan has identified this as a national issue and established a goal to lower the fertility rate by 2020; however, this threat to socioeconomic growth and resources is not without challenges. The Kingdom of Jordan is an Islamic country, and national funding allocations are heavily influenced by government entities that do not fully support education regarding contraception and family planning options.

Muslim religious leaders heavily influence the attitudes and beliefs of the population, and more conservative Islamic leaders have openly campaigned against the use of condoms or other birth control methods, thus making population planning largely ineffective.  While reproductive health is a topic that once had the attention of internally led non-profit organizations, over time these have lost funding and advocacy due to lack of prioritization about the issue – despite recognized impact. In fact, external organizations are now the strongest promoters of the cause.  USAID is currently the largest donor to Jordan’s efforts to educate the population on family planning and reproductive health through the Health Policy Project (HPP), but more adequate participation from Jordan’s governing bodies is needed.

There must be further measures taken to increase funding and awareness of family planning methods in order to ensure resource availability and sustainability in the future.  A partnership between internal health organizations and religious leaders is necessary to fully ensure national support is available.  Working together as much as possible to maximize efficient use of donor resources and provide more value for money is vital based on the current resource situation.

China’s One-Child Family Policy…Let’s Make it a Thing of the Past

August 16, 2014


China administered the one-child policy in 1971 in response to the country’s concerns with rapid population growth due to decline in death rate and increase in elderly population.  The policy has met its intent by reducing at least 250 million population growth by 1999.[1]  However, the policy’s “success” is not without some painful sacrifices.  The Chinese culture of preference for sons has been manifest prenatally through selective abortions as well as postnatally through female infanticide and neglect and abandonment of girls.  The 2005 national intercensus survey showed a significant imbalance in gender ratio where males under age of 20 exceeded females by more than 32 million, and more than 1.1 million excess births of boys occurred.[2]

Economically, Deng Xiao-ping’s assertion that China “will not be able to develop our economy, and raise the living standards of our people unless birth rate falls rapidly” is a flavor of the past.[3]  For the first time, China’s work force shrank in 2012 in decades and that this trend is likely to continue.[4]

In 2013, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee started loosening the one-child policy (essentially becoming a two-child policy).[5]  While this is a step forward to the right direction, it is still in direct conflict with a fundamental human right [choice to reproduce].  The Chinese government needs to reconsider the notion of “illegal pregnancy” and remove its right to determine how many children a family should have.

Informational Links:


  1. Kane, Penny; Choi, Ching Y. China’s one child family policy.  BMJ 1999; 319:992-994.
  2. Zhu, WX; Lu, L; Hesketh, T. China’s excess males, sex selective abortion, and one child policy: analysis of data from 2005 national intercensus survey.  BMJ 2009; 338:b1211.
  3. China’s one child policy, the policy that changed the world. BMJ 2006; 333:361-362.
  4. Riley, C. The economics of China’s one-child policy.  Information can be found on URL
  5. Re-Education through labor, one-child policy in China. Human Rights Watch; November 17, 2013.  Information can be found on URL

Devolution of Women’s Rights: Access to abortion services in PEI

August 15, 2014

The Supreme Court of Canada recognized abortions as a medically necessary service in 1988. It is therefore harrowing that the last legal surgical abortion performed on Prince Edward Island was in 1982.

Recently, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) proposed a program that would allow for safe, timely, and cost-neutral pregnancy terminations in the only remaining Canadian province that does not offer this service. This proposal was stonewalled by the provincial government last May.

At the current time, the PEI government covers the medical costs of the procedure for women to have the procedure in Halifax hospitals. The out-of-province trip and accommodation, however, is not covered, rendering it difficult for lower socioeconomic class women to access this health service. Additionally, two doctor referral letters are also required. For women without family physicians, or for those with physicians that refuse to  refer, there are few options. As Dr. Sethna, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa stated, “abortion doesn’t have to be illegal in order to be inaccessible”.

Desperation is dangerous. It is well-known that when women are deprived of their reproductive rights, they can turn to illegal, unsafe means. And in fact, abortions do continue to take plan on the island. Unsafe abortions are currently one of the biggest contributors to maternal mortality world-wide.

The PEI government’s decision is at odds with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. Up until now, the government has attributed the problem to the lack of qualified physicians willing to travel to the island. The rejected NAF proposition, however, identified 3 gynaecologists that had volunteered to provide this service in-province.

Access to safe and timely abortion services is a fundamental component to women’s rights and reproductive health. Help restore women’s freedom of choice by writing to your local media outlet or contacting your elected official (Rona Ambrose – Minister of Health, Kellie Leitch – Minister for the Status of Women, Robert Ghiz– PEI Premier). Join the PEI Reproductive Rights Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Attend Canada’s Day of Action and show your commitment to Women’s Rights.

Emergency Contraception in School Based Clinics

August 18, 2013

School Based Health Clinics (SBHC) are an important component in giving teens access to comprehensive health care.  There are 2000 school based health centers in the US according to HRSA.  These clinics provide many different services ranging from immunizations, mental health care and general primary care.  Most of the services offered by SBHCs are noncontroversial and widely accepted.   SBHCs have begun to expand their services so that they offer family planning and STD prevention.  New York City schools caused a significant controversy when they decided to offer emergency contraception in their school based clinics.  This was despite the well established safety profile of emergency contraception whose availability has been endorsed by ACOG, AAFP and the AAP.  Access to emergency contraception for teens is an important component of reproductive family planning.  The United States continues to have the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the developed world.  In Oklahoma  ranks 15th in the US in teen pregnancies in teens age 15-19.  This is not a record to be proud of.  Many in the state and local government are proponents of abstinence only education which has been proven to not work.

The decision made by NYC schools and many other cities is based on sound health policy.  Access to emergency contraception is an important part of providing adolescent health care.  Having emergency contraceptives available in SBHCs will help remove  barriers by providing access in the place where teen spend their days.  They may also feels more comfortable accessing care in schools than in other clinics.  This is also an opportunity for providers in these clinics to educate the teen on long term family planning options and STD prevention.  Ignoring the issue of teen reproductive health  will lead to more teen pregnancies and STDs.  By offering family planning in school based clinics, this issue can addressed in an evidenced based manner.

Too Many Mouths to Feed: The Case for Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines

August 12, 2011

Due to an unbridled population growth rate of almost 2% and a total fertility rate of 3.19, the Philippines breached the 100 millionth population mark in July 2011, making it the 12th most populous country in the world. These figures are truly disappointing, especially if we compare the Philippines to similar Asian countries with population control programs such as Indonesia and Thailand. In a country where the Roman Catholic Church is highly influential, a proposed “Reproductive Health (RH) Bill” that will make modern contraceptive methods available to poor women for free, flounders in legislative purgatory. The Church condemns this bill, calling it “secularist and materialistic.” In the meantime, the country’s population will reach 150 million by 2050, making it the 11th most populous country in the world.

Compared to neighboring Asian countries, progress in the Philippines has been slower, and poverty rate remains higher at 26.5%. Bad policies and corruption are clearly causal. However, the country’s population explosion certainly plays a role by reducing growth in per capita income and promoting unemployment.

The unmet need for modern contraceptives in the country is among the highest in the world. The current rate of 22% puts it among poor African nations.  More than half of current pregnancies are unintended resulting to about 0.9 million induced abortions and 3,500 maternal deaths a year.

The country needs to rally behind its legislators to get this bill passed. Opposition from the Church can be surmounted by mass media advocacy. Civil society groups and key government agencies should embark on a social marketing campaign promoting the merits of modern family planning techniques to counteract the Church’s negative impact.

It’s RH Bill now, or the country will forever be left behind in the Dark Ages.