Countries to Watch for Reproductive Health Changes

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1. France

Way to go, France! President Hollande’s administration is keeping the campaign promise made to provide free contraceptives to girls age 15 – 18 and abortions to those who had been previous unable to afford them. This is a very proactive approach to preventing sexual transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Sexual health education and access of birth control are important tools and it’s good to see France making practical efforts.

2. Brazil

In an extremely devout county, Brazilian doctors are supporting the legalisation of safe abortion. This is a remarkable and necessary stance in reproductive health in Brazil because, as FMF reports, over 1 million dangerous, unsafe abortions are performed and 200,000 related deaths occur every year in that country. With new proposed legislation, there would be reasonable exceptions to the criminalization of dropped pregnancies. As expected, the Roman Catholic Church was quick to claim that the doctors, lawyers, and politicians working on this proposal were using their “diseducational” power to create a mentality of violence.

3. Ireland

Last year, the death of a pregnant woman, who was denied treatment after her unborn child died in her womb, inspired Irish citizens to protest for better health legislation.  Investigations have confirmed what we already know – that her life was subordinated to the her non-viable fetus. Additional problems are popping up in the investigation, such as the alledged alterations to some medical records and the denial of key statements by the hospital staff.

4. Philippines

While Ireland and India was getting a lot of press in late 2012 with strong activism against gender violence, it was the citizens of Philippines who made a swift and effective push for a reproductive health law that was passed in December 2012. It was supposed to be effective in March 2013. Unfortunately, the Philippines’ reproductive health law’s implementation was halted by the Supreme Court for review. The law is aimed at lowering rates of teen pregnancy and maternal mortality by expanding health services beyond “natural” family planning services (the advocacy of abstinence).

5. United States

Unfortunately, the United States of America’s status on reproductive health policy is a convoluted web of laws, court decisions, propaganda, and party politics. States are passing a substantial number of restrictive law at a frequent and alarming rate. These include the TRAP measures in Virginia and the severe Personhood law in Kansas.  The dominating news story of the moment is the Gosnell Trial, which both sides interpret in wildly contrasting manners. Pro-lifers are using the case to further incite rage and demonize abortion providers, while pro-choicers are using this as an example of their oldest argument – that a lack of services will push poor, desperate women to desperate measures. With varying restrictions in each state and the constant flow of change, the US is absolutely a country to watch, if you can keep up to with the news.

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