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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November News

Are you interested in reproductive health policy issues, but lack the time to follow the news and shift through the extensive information available online?

For your bite-sized consumption, here are my 5 picks for interesting pieces of news occurring during November 2012.

Tina Fey at the Center for Reproductive Rights

1. Tina Fey’s “$2 Haircut” speech

In the midst of several ill-received comments from Republican candidates about reproductive policy, Tina Fey gives a comical speech at the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City. In her words, “I wish we could have an honest and respectful dialogue about these complicated issues. But it seems like we can’t right now. And if I have to listen to one more gray-faced man with a two-dollar haircut explain to me what rape is, I’m gonna lose my mind.” (Yes, this is from October, but it’s rather close.)

2. Two Stigmas Preventing Full Reproductive Freedom

Blogher summarizes the problem with the language used in discussion of reproductive policy in the United States. It’s not just a matter of legislature, it’s a matter of changing the social construct that affects those laws and the actions of individuals in the nation. The article references another paper titled, “Conceptualizing Abortion Stigma,” which is the best read on the subject that I’ve ever seen. It’s fascinating how various cultures have developed their cultural perception of abortion. If you’re interested in reproductive rights, especially from a sociological standpoint, I’d recommend reading it.

3. Florida Reject Anti-Privacy Amendment

Floridians decided to reject Amendment 6 to the state constitution in their early November elections. The amendment aimed to prohibit state aid for abortion services (which the state does not cover anyway) and revoked a minor’s right to privacy. The amendment would have paved the way for a requirement of parental notification/consent for abortion and, potentially, other restrictions on access.

Credit: © wrobell / Wikimedia Commons

4. Irish Women Denied Abortion and Dies of Blood Infection

This is possibly the most notable reproductive health event that has occurred this month. A hospital in Ireland refused to remove a fetus, despite the agonizing pain of the mother and the confirmation of a miscarriage. As a result, she died of blood poisoning. This event has thrown the issue of reproductive health into the spotlight in the Irish community, as European citizens push for investigation and reform.

Read about it:

5. Medical Clinics Grant Buffer Zone Protection from Protesters

A city in Pennsylvania has granted a buffer zone around a clinic to protect patients from anti-abortion protestors. As someone who has been harassed outside Planned Parenthood, back when I had my birth control prescription pick up there, it’s wonderful to see this need for a buffer zone be recognized. In my case, protesters would stand against my car window as I attempted to exit the parking lot, rendering it impossible to see oncoming traffic and making it extremely dangerous for me to drive out. Those protestors may have been advocating a pro-life policy, but they certainly did not care about my own life.