Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Czech Republic: Abortion Services Not 'Abortion Tourism' For EU Citizens

Published on RHRealityCheck.org (http://www.rhrealitycheck.org)

Czech Republic: Abortion Services Not "Abortion Tourism" for EU Citizens
By Anna Wilkowska-Landowska
Created Dec 23 2008 - 8:00am

Recently, the Czech Republic cabinet unanimously approved a new bill that would extend abortion privileges and other health services to all European Union (EU) citizens. Opponents of the bill claim that the new regulations will enable "abortion tourism" from the other European states where termination of pregnancy is significantly restricted.

The European Union rules state that all participating member states should provide the same services and care to all EU citizens that local citizens receive. Even so, the bill is strongly opposed by deputies of the Christian Democratic Union (KDU-CSL), a junior governing party, who have concerns the Czech Republic will become an "abortion tourism destination" for EU citizens. Christian Democratic Union ministers in the cabinet, who approved the bill, are strongly being pressured to withdraw the bill before it is submitted to the Parliament by deputy party members, according to Ceske Noviny newspaper [1]. As a reason for their opposition, the KDU MPs gave their "conscience objections" to the bill's provision enabling EU citizens to undergo abortion in the Czech Republic.

The bill is part of the crucial and controversial package of reform legislation promoted by Health Minister Tomas Julinek. Apart from abortion, the bill deals with rules of assisted fertilization, sex change, sterilization and other specific treatments.

The Christian Democrats have had long term reservations about the planned provisions on abortion. They have campaigned steadily in previous months against the abortion bill, as well as another that would loosen restrictions on in-vitro fertilization. The party had proposed abortion restriction legislation in April, which included a stricter time limit on health-related abortions and heightened consent requirements. The Christian Democrats proposed to limit abortions on "health grounds" to the 18th week of pregnancy and proposed to allow fathers to have a say in whether a child is aborted, although the father's opinion will not be a "veto." They also proposed to raise the age at which parental consent is required from 16 to 18 years old.

Under current Czech law, unrestricted abortion is allowed until 12 weeks gestation, and with "medical indications" until 24 weeks. Fetuses diagnosed with serious abnormalities can be legally aborted at any gestational age. Abortion was legalized under the communist regime in 1957. The only restrictions beyond these say that abortions must be spaced at least six months apart and the pregnant woman must be at least 16 years old, unless she has the permission of her parents.

The opponents also say the bill makes abortion rules excessively liberal, and that the Czech Republic might become an abortion tourism destination. The "abortion tourists" would most likely come from neighboring Poland, where abortion is permitted only in cases of rape, significant fetal abnormality, or the presence of a serious health threat to the mother. Abortion was made illegal in the country after the collapse of communism in 1993. Though coming to the Czech Republic for abortion care has been illegal until now according to Czech law, Polish women seeking abortion have traveled to the Czech Republic for the procedure.

It is important to add that in spite of very liberal abortion legislation, the number of abortions in the Czech Republic has been constantly dropping since the collapse of the communist regime in November 1989. In 1970 almost 148,000 children were born and 72,000 abortions were performed. In 2006, there were 25,400 abortions for a total population of 10,228,744 in the country. Last year, in 2007, over 114,000 children were born and 25,414 abortions performed.

"The reason for high abortions during communist times is that contraception was not available, and the abortion law was very permissive," said Radim Uzel, executive director of the Czech Family Planning Association.

Despite the Czech Republic having one of the lowest birth rates in the world - well below the replacement rate of 2.1, at 1.22 - the citizens of the Czech Republic continue to strongly favor abortion. A new public opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center CVVM [2] among residents of the Czech Republic in June 2008 finds more people are inclined to favor keeping abortions legal. The poll found about 75 percent of Czech citizens want abortions to stay legal, an increase of about three percent from the poll conducted in 2007. Some 15 percent said abortions should be limited to only legitimate health reasons, another 6 percent said abortions should only be allowed if the mother's life is threatened and one percent want all abortions made illegal.

The Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic [3] reported that women who already have children were more likely to get an abortion. Some 35 percent of those obtaining abortions already have two children, for example. That figure is consistent with most other European countries.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Adreinne Germain's Blog: Women's Rights Are Human Rights

Past Time for Change: Women's Rights Are Human Rights

Adrienne Germain on December 10th.


Adrienne Germain's blog

On its sixtieth anniversary, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights is still a distant dream for most of the world's girls and women. One in every three women in the world experiences violence in her lifetime just because she is a woman. In Africa, three million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation, and ten million girls worldwide face early and forced marriage each year.

While gender gaps in education have recently been closing, 70% of children not in school are girls, and sex discrimination pervades most other sectors. For example, only 16% of parliamentarians worldwide are women.

Nowhere are violations of women's human rights greater than in the health sector. Half a million women die and 10-15 million are permanently disabled each year from entirely preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is more than 300 times higher than in rich countries. The health impacts of poverty and injustice are not distant challenges: the United States ranks 41st in the world in maternal mortality, behind Latvia, Portugal, and Poland. In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 60 percent of adults, and 75 percent of young people, living with HIV/AIDS are female.

Eleanor Roosevelt, architect of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, understood that such daily violations of the rights to life, dignity, and equality are the core human rights challenge. In 1958 she said,

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home... the neighborhood... the school... the factory, farm, or office... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere."

But countries and the international system have only paid lip service to Eleanor Roosevelt's wisdom. Over a dozen United Nations agreements have elaborated in detail the human rights of women and actions required to protect them. In 1979 the Convention on the Elimination of the Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a legally binding treaty, took effect and has been ratified by all but eight of the world's governments, including, unfortunately, the United States.

In 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights again recognized the human rights of women and of the girl child and said that they are "priority objectives of the international community." Two years later, at the Fourth World Conference on Women, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton nonetheless felt compelled to point out once more that "Women's rights are human rights."

So what is the way forward?

Based on decades of international work, we know that there will be no global peace or security until we secure every woman's right to a just and healthy life. Only healthy women whose human rights are protected can be fully productive workers and effective participants in their country's political processes. Only when women are healthy and empowered can they raise and educate healthy children. These are imperative in their own right, and also the building blocks of stable societies and growing economies.

How do we get there?

President-elect Barack Obama has the unique opportunity, and the profound responsibility, to reestablish U.S. credibility and global leadership on human rights for all. The first step is to help strengthen the United Nations as a vehicle to hold governments accountable for human rights protection and for meeting unfulfilled commitments to girls and women. Second, the United States can once again lead the world in making access to comprehensive reproductive health services a reality for women and young people here in the United States and globally.

Only when women are able to exercise control over their bodies are they able to fully realize other human right such as access to education and employment, political participation and legal equality. Third, the new President should prioritize asking the Senate to ratify CEDAW. Finally, the United States, at home and abroad, can enable new generations to live the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. A key vehicle is comprehensive sexuality education, which teaches young people how to establish equality in relationships; respect the right to consent in both sex and marriage; and end sexual coercion and violence against women.

The next Administration will have the opportunity and the power to make these changes and to create a different kind of world for millions of girls and women, boys and men. It will take courage and vision to act boldly. The reward -- in lives saved and in our restored reputation as a global leader for social justice -- will be incalculable.

This article was first posted on The Huffington Post.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Loretta Ross Blog: Re-enslaving African American Women

Re-enslaving African American Women

This article was originally published in On The Issues Magazine.com.

Loretta Ross on December 8, 2008 - 8:00am
Posting on rhrealitycheck.org

I have spoken on many campuses in the wake of the “Genocide Awareness Project,” which displays posters at colleges to create controversy among young people about Black abortion. Students are understandably confused when presented with seemingly fact-based information that claims that Black women are the scourge of the African American community. I provide accurate historical and contemporary information about Black women’s views on abortion.

African American women who care about reproductive justice know that the limited membership in the Black anti-abortion movement doesn’t represent our views and we are not fooled into thinking that they care about gender justice for women. In fact, if they had their way, we would be re-enslaved once again, based on our fertility.

But the Black anti-abortion movement needs to be taken seriously. The people involved in it carefully exploit religious values to make inroads into our communities. They poison the soil in which we must toil.

Carefully orchestrated campaigns by Black surrogates for the religious and political right not only oppose abortion, but they also organize on behalf of many other right wing causes, such as opposing stem cell research, supporting charter schools and opposing affirmative action.

Through clever positioning and photo-ops by the right wing, the Black anti-abortion movement appears stronger and more numerous than it actually is. Generously funded by a predominantly white anti-abortion movement desperate for Black representatives, the Black anti-abortion movement seeks to drive a wedge into the African American community.

They tell African American women that we are now responsible for the genocide of our own people. Talk about a “blame the victim” strategy! We are now accused of “lynching” our children in our wombs and practicing white supremacy on ourselves. Black women are again blamed for the social conditions in our communities and demonized by those who claim they only want to save our souls (and the souls of our unborn children). This is what lies on steroids look like.

Opposition Research Needed

Who are these people in the Black anti-abortion movement? This movement needs to be carefully studied through opposition research. Information on them, their connections to white anti-abortion groups and their sources of funding is scant.

Of course, the most famous of the Black anti-abortionists is Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is a Pastoral Associate, a member of the avid anti-abortion group Priests for Life, and Director of African American Outreach for the Gospel of Life Ministries. Because her father was Dr. King’s brother, Alveda is the leading voice for linking the anti-abortionists to the Civil Rights movement. This is despite the fact that both Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King were strong supporters of family planning in general, and Planned Parenthood in particular. Alveda King, who lives in Atlanta, has also spoken out strongly against gay rights and in support of charter schools.

A widely known Black anti-abortion minister is Rev. Clenard H. Childress of New Jersey, founder of the BlackGenocide.org project and website. He is the president of the Northeast Chapter of Life Education and Resource Network (L.E.A.R.N.), established in 1993. He claims that the “high rate of abortion has decimated the Black family and destroyed Black neighborhoods to the detriment of society at large.” He led protests at the 2008 NAACP convention in Cincinnati and has accused the organization of practicing racism against Black children. He is also on the board of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform that circulates the Genocide Awareness Project.

Alan Keyes, perennial presidential candidate, is also well known in anti-abortion circles. Keyes first came to national attention when President Reagan appointed him as adviser to Maureen Reagan (daughter of the president), as she led the official U.S. delegation to the UN World Conference for Women in Kenya in 1985. At this meeting, the U.S. affirmed its support for the infamous 1984 “Mexico City” policy that banned U.S. funds from supporting abortion worldwide. Keyes helped lead the anti-abortion protests at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and is a favorite of the right for his fierce extreme views on a number of issues.

There are a handful of other Black spokespeople for the anti-abortion movement. The point is not how many there are, but the disproportionate impact they have. They have created the false impression that if only Black people were warned that abortion is genocide, women would stop having them in order to preserve the Black race, either voluntarily or pressured by the men in their lives.

The Sexism They Sell

The sexism in their viewpoints is mind-boggling. To them, Black women are the poor dupes of the abortion rights movement, lacking agency and decision-making of our own. In fact, this is a reassertion of Black male supremacy over the self-determination of women. It doesn’t matter whether it is from the lips of a man or a woman. It is about re-enslaving Black women by making us breeders for someone else’s cause.

I am reminded of the comments of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress, who dismissed the genocide argument when asked to discuss her views on abortion and birth control:

To label family planning and legal abortion programs “genocide” is male rhetoric, for male ears. It falls flat to female listeners and to thoughtful male ones. Women know, and so do many men, that two or three children who are wanted, prepared for, reared amid love and stability, and educated to the limit of their ability will mean more for the future of the Black and brown races from which they come than any number of neglected, hungry, ill-housed and ill-clothed youngsters.

We need our leading African American women’s and Civil Rights organizations to speak out more strongly in support of reproductive justice. We need to organize young people to resist the misinformation directed at them by these groups. Many of our campuses are unaware of the activities of the Black anti-abortionists until they show up, usually invited by a white anti-abortion group.

But mostly, we need to let the world know that they do not speak for Black women. As my mother would say, “they might be our color, but they are not our kind.”


Friday, December 05, 2008

From www.abortionreview.org: A Depressingly Narrow Debate

5 December 2008
Comment: A depressingly narrow debate

The ‘yes it does / no it doesn’t’ reaction to claims that abortion damages mental health distracts from the more useful and difficult questions about women’s experience. By Jennie Bristow.

The publication of some new studies examining the possibility of a link between abortion and mental health has sparked a predictable media debate about whether abortion causes mental illness, and whether women seeking abortion should be ‘informed’ that the procedure might make them depressed.

A study by Professor David Fergusson and colleagues from the University of Otago, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, claims that women who had abortions had rates of mental health problems that were almost 30% higher than in the other women in the study. A second study in the same journal, by Kaeleen Dingle and colleagues at the University of Queensland, Australia, shows that women who lose a baby by the age of 21 – either through an abortion or a miscarriage – are three times more likely to develop a drug or alcohol problem than others. These studies led to headlines proclaiming ‘Abortions linked to mental illness’ (Daily Telegraph, UK); ‘Abortions may cause drug, alcohol addiction’ (Times of India); ‘NZ research uncovers abortion and mental health link’ (New Zealand Herald); and ‘Call for mental health support after abortion’ (Irish Times).

On the other side, a systematic review of 21 high-quality studies involving more than 150,000 women, conducted by Dr Robert Blum and a team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, and published in the journal Contraception, found no significant differences in long-term mental health between women who choose to abort a pregnancy and other women. ‘The best quality studies indicate no significant differences in long-term mental health between women in the United States who choose to terminate a pregnancy and those who do not,’ they wrote, noting that ‘studies with the most flawed methodology consistently found negative mental health consequences of abortion.’ ‘Abortion not seen linked with depression’, reported Reuters on 4 December.

The ongoing debate about whether abortion is or is not associated with mental health problems has triggered several major reviews: most recently, by the American Psychological Association (APA). New studies attract over-stated, and often contradictory, news headlines, depending on the particular newspaper’s stance on abortion. Attempting to untangle the science of it all could leave even experts rather confused. But for this reason, we need to step back from the claims and counter-claims about this issue, and ask: What is really being said here?

Claims and counter-claims

On the science front, the balance of opinion seems to be a cautious recognition that some women who have abortions may suffer some mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety or self-harm. However, the evidence does not show that the abortion itself causes these problems: rather, these problems are likely to be a continuation of pre-existing mental health problems that the woman has suffered. Furthermore, those women who may experience serious mental health problems are a minority of those who have undergone abortion.

These are the conclusions reached by the APA, and by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in its 2004 guidance. It is worth noting that they are also the conclusions broadly reached by Fergusson and his team. Fergusson’s work on abortion and mental health is often used by the anti-abortion lobby in an attempt to strengthen the argument that women need to be protected from abortion. A 2006 study that he published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry prompted a group of 15 British obstetricians to write to The Times (London), demanding that the RCOG revisits its guidance and arguing that ‘doctors have a duty to advise about long-term adverse psychological consequences of abortion.’ The APA’s recent review devotes a significant section to examining this 2006 study, and noting where its results should be treated with caution.

However, despite the alarmist headlines that greeted Fergusson’s new study, published this week, the conclusions and findings of his team were measured. They concluded that the overall effects of abortion on mental health were small, and that exposure to abortion accounted for 1.5-5.5 per cent of the overall rate of mental disorder in the group of women studied. Furthermore, they stated:

‘[T]he results do not support strong pro-life positions that claim that abortion has large and devastating effects on the mental health of women. Neither do the results support strong pro-choice positions that imply that abortion is without any mental health effects. In general, the results lead to a middle-of-the-road position that, for some women, abortion is likely to be a stressful and traumatic life event which places those exposed to it at modestly increased risk of a range of common mental health problems.’

Psychiatrists will continue to debate the precise nature of such ‘common mental health problems’, their relationship with abortion, and the number of women who may be affected. As Margaret Oates, consultant perinatal psychiatrist with Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, has suggested in a commentary on the 2008 Fergusson study, it is unlikely that even these specialists will ever agree.

Abortion and the Syndrome Society

However, it is undoubtedly the case that abortion can be experienced by some women as a highly stressful and difficult life event, which happens in the context of other problems in their lives. Relationship breakdown, financial and other practical pressures, problems with alcohol or drugs, and ambivalence about whether they want to have a baby or not – we know that these are factors in some women’s decision to have an abortion, all of which can be intensely experienced in a very negative way. This is not the case for all women – for many, the issue is a more practical one of being pregnant when they do not want to be, and the predominant emotion following abortion is relief. But for some, abortion can be experienced as one more bad thing happening in an already bad set of circumstances.

Furthermore, we live in a cultural context where people routinely use the word ‘depressing’ to describe negative feelings or upheavals in their lives, whether that be moving house, having a baby, experiencing trouble at work, or splitting up with a partner. Whether people are actually suffering from depression as a result of these things or whether they simply feel they are is in many ways a moot point: the fact is that they feel they are depressed, that they experience these events as causing mental health difficulties, and they expect that they will receive a particular kind of recognition and support for their problems.

In this way, the category ‘mental health problems’ has expanded to encompass the way that people feel about all manner of difficult life events. It would be highly peculiar if abortion, and all the reasons leading to why women have abortions, were immune to this trend. A woman who has had an abortion may well feel very miserable, even ‘depressed’, and dwell on her decision for some time to come; she may require extra care and support. Abortion providers recognise this, which is why they are very careful to ensure that a woman seeking an abortion is sure about her decision, and why emotional support is offered afterwards as part of the package of care.

It is in many ways unfortunate that discussions about how women experience abortions, and what providers can do to help manage the negative emotions in some of their clients, tend to be clouded by the ‘abortion and mental health’ debate, which has politicised and polarised this issue. As Dr Ellie Lee, author of the important critique Abortion, Motherhood and Mental Health, recently wrote on Abortion Review, the history of the debate about the mental health effects of abortion is a political one. It arises from persistent attempts by the anti-abortion lobby to ‘de-moralise’ claims about the problem of abortion, by using science (or pseudo-science) to argue that abortion has negative effects upon women’s health.

This means that, as Roger Blum’s team argues, ‘[s]cientists are … conducting research to answer politically motivated questions’. The anti-abortion lobby thinks that if a scientific study can prove that abortion causes depression, it will have won an argument; in countering such claims, the pro-choice lobby can sometimes come across as denying the reality of some women’s struggle with abortion. This is not a helpful situation for women seeking abortion, and nor it is a useful framework for the abortion debate. As Margaret Oates argues, ‘abortion is not a psychiatric but a moral, ethical and legal issue’. It is one which should be debated, not in the laboratory, but out in the world.

Jennie Bristow is editor of Abortion Review

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

CEDAW and Ireland: Concluding Observations on Abortion, 1989/1999/2005

CEDAW and Concluding Observations on Abortion, Ireland, 1989/1999/2005.

IRELAND CEDAW A/44/38 (1989)
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women:

The Committee considered the initial report of Ireland (CEDAW/C/5/Add.47) at its 135th and 140th meetings, on 22 and 24 February 1989 (CEDAW/C/SR.135 and 140).

89. In the area of health, more information was requested on the degree of access to contraceptives for women under the age of 18 in the light of the rising incidence of teenage pregnancies, generally. It was asked why a prescription was required for contraceptives. Statistics, if available, were requested on the number of Irish women who had had clandestine abortions (in Ireland or abroad). It was also asked whether the fact that abortion was illegal was not considered by the Government to be contrary to the objectives of equality of opportunity and self-determination enshrined in the Convention. Exact data were requested on deaths resulting from illegal abortions and it was asked whether any action had been taken to stem the increase in deaths. Further, the Committee wanted to know if there was a strong movement from feminist groups with regard to legalizing abortion and if anything was being done to change the law. The Committee also wished to know whether abortion in the case of rape was illegal and whether there were any legal consequences for persons in that situation.

State Party(Ireland) reply:
123. The representative responded to the questions in the area of health. On the subject of abortion, he explained that Irish law did not distinguish between clandestine and other abortions. Abortion had been illegal since 1860 and the provision had been upheld by a referendum held in Ireland in 1983. A number of women’s groups had played a prominent role in lobbying for abortion rights during the debate preceding the referendum but the feminist movement was not united on the issue.
Police authorities had not reported any incidences of clandestine abortion in Ireland and it was believed not to occur as Irish women could avail themselves of legal and safe abortion facilities in the United Kingdom. On the question of the demand for abortion, the number of women who had given an address in the Ireland and who had availed themselves of an abortion in the United Kingdom in 1987 was reported to be 3,700, but it was considered that that figure might be low due to under-reporting. In answer to the question of whether the absence of abortion rights meant that many women would have to function as single parents with the attendant economic difficulties, the representative informed the Committee of the special weekly unmarried mother’s allowance, which was available subject to a means test.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women : Ireland. 25/06/99.
A/54/38,paras.161-201. (Concluding Observations/Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CEDAW
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Twenty-first session 7–25 June 1999

Principal areas of concern and recommendations:

180. The Committee notes that although Ireland is a secular State, the influence of the Church is strongly felt not only in attitudes and stereotypes but also in official State policy.
In particular, women's right to health, including reproductive health, is compromised by this influence. The Committee notes that Ireland did not enter a reservation to article 12 upon ratification of the Convention. The Committee recommends implementation of this article in full.

185. While noting with appreciation the existence of a Plan for Women's Health, 1997-1999, and the establishment of a Women's Health Council, as well as the wide availability of various programmes to improve women's health, the Committee is concerned that, with very limited exceptions, abortion remains illegal in Ireland. Women who wish to terminate their pregnancies need to travel abroad. This creates hardship for vulnerable groups, such as female asylum seekers who cannot leave the territory of the State.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Thirty-third session 5-22 July 2005

Concluding comments: Ireland
1. The Committee considered Ireland’s combined fourth and fifth periodic report (CEDAW/C/IRL/4-5) at its 693rd and 694th meetings, on 13 July 2005.

Introduction by the State party(Ireland)
7. Steps had been taken to integrate a gender dimension into the health service and to make it responsive to the particular needs of women. Additional funding had been provided for family planning and pregnancy counselling services. The Crisis Pregnancy Agency had been set up in 2001. Extensive national dialogue had occurred on the issue of abortion, with five separate referendums held on three separate occasions. The representative noted that the Government had no plans to put forward further proposals at the present time.

Principal areas of concern and recommendations of CEDAW Committee:

38. While acknowledging positive developments in the implementation of article 12 of the Convention, in particular the Strategy to Address the Issue of Crisis Pregnancy (2003) that addresses information, education and advice on contraceptive services, the Committee reiterates its concern about the consequences of the very restrictive abortion laws under which abortion is prohibited except where it is established as a matter of probability that there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother that can be averted only by the termination of her pregnancy.

39. The Committee urges the State party to continue to facilitate a national dialogue on women’s right to reproductive health, including on the very restrictive abortion laws. It also urges the State party to further strengthen family planning services, ensuring their availability to all women and men, young adults and teenagers.

Ireland is due to be examined under CEDAW in 2009. An NGO Shadow Report is being prepared and is coordinated by the Irish Women’s Human Rights Alliance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Uruguay Senate Votes to Depenalise Abortion- Breaking News

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguay's Senate has voted to depenalize abortion — a rare step in a Latin American nation. President Tabare Vasquez says he will veto the measure.

Ruling party Sen. Monica Javier says 17 of the 30 senators present voted for Tuesday's bill, which would remove penalties for abortion during the first 12 weeks of gestation.

The country's Roman Catholic Church has crusaded against the measure, which give Uruguay the most liberal abortion laws in South America.

The country now bars abortion in all circumstances.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Gloria Feldt on the Election of Obama

The Tide in the Affairs of Election 2008

Pundits make their living trying to tell us why politics happens as it does. They are always arguing about what the one driving factor was in a given election. Well, take it from someone who has worked in campaigns from the lowliest grass roots to the highest halls of power--not a one of them looks from the outside like what they look like from the inside. I don't care how "perfectly executed" the campaign might be. There's a lot of luck involved and there is never just one deciding factor.

But the biggest factor in 2008 was: it's just damn time.

People are ready. People are fed up. Enough trumped up war. Enough high gas prices and mortgage meltdowns and corporate greed taking the hard working middle class's life savings down with them. Enough slashing and burning of women's rights to equal pay and reproductive justice. Enough of a president who you might want to have a beer with (I personally don't) but who can't string a sentence together, and who squandered America's global standing at the same time he lost his dice roll that our economy wouldn't crash till he got out of Dodge with his cronies' fortunes safe.

The deciding factor in 2008 was simply that "tide in the affairs of men", and more especially, of women, that when it crests, get out of the way because that force for change will not be stopped.

That said, Barack Obama, unlike Al Gore and John Kerry who both snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, ran a strategically brilliant campaign. Obama saw the tide and repeatedly took the wave that leads to fortune. He did what leaders must first and foremost do: create a story we can all see ourselves in. He did it with his personal narrative. He did it with the race speech. He did it by tangibly engaging an enormous chunk of America, including millions of newly activated voters, in his quest.

We must also remember that Hillary Clinton would have represented transformational change too had she become the first woman president. I am sad I won't see her inaugurated in January. But the truth, much as it hurts me to say it, is that it is just damn time in America for Barack Obama.

(The full quote, lest someone accuse me of plagiarizing Shakespeare):

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.
William Shakespeare (English Dramatist, Playwright and Poet, 1564-1616)

Gloria Feldt looks back to Beijing in a post from March 2006

Gloria Feldt is the author of The War on Choice: the Right-wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back and Behind Every Choice Is a Story. She was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1996-2005 and is a Columnist for MaximsNews.

UNITED NATIONS - / www.MaximsNews.com/ 21 March 2006 - Think back with me to September 1995, to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing .

Thrilling and ambitious goals were set for improving the lives of women, and that improves the lives of their families, their communities, and the world.

The official conference was in Beijing , but the much larger convocation of nongovernmental organizations was literally stuck in the mud in Huairu, an hour's drive from the city.

Thousands of us got there early on the morning of 6 September. We stood packed together under a roof of brightly colored umbrellas, jockeying for the few hundred seats inside the auditorium where then first lady of the United States , Hillary Clinton was slated to give a speech.

All those years of clinic defense had taught me how to get through a crowd unscathed. I was fortunate not only to get inside but to get a seat.

The program was running late; Hillary was running even later and the crowd was getting restive. Just as it seemed a revolt might be brewing, Shirley May Springer Stanton, the cultural coordinator of the conference, walked onto the stage and began to sing a capella, ever so softly:

Gonna keep on moving forward, never turning back, never turning back.

Then she asked the audience to join her.

Gonna fight for women’s freedom, never turning back.

Pretty soon the house was rocking.

By the time the first lady arrived and gave her brilliant "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights" speech, it truly felt like the global movement for women's rights was unstoppable.

It was, you might say, an ovular moment.

Here in the United States , that moment seems long ago.

Our administration's federal budget slashes and gags funding for international family planning services that could reduce the millions of unsafe abortions and risky pregnancies that cause 500,000 women’s deaths each year unnecessarily.

But the U.S. women's movement can take inspiration from working in sisterhood with women from around the globe.

While the United States fails to meet its commitments to the global public-health community, and indeed is rolling back women’s human rights to make their own childbearing decisions every day, many other countries have stepped in to fill the void left by America 's abdication of leadership.

Women's development projects are also fueling economic growth around the world while bringing greater equality to the women in their societies.

Sex trafficking and other acts of violence against women, long merely routine facts of life, are becoming subjects of international media attention and human rights action and female heads of state have been elected in Europe, Africa and Latin America just in the past year.

Maybe in the U.S. next time around?

The recent deaths of Betty Freidan who sparked American feminism’s second wave, Rosa Parks, who showed that one woman can change the world, and Coretta Scott King, whose definition of civil rights always included women’s rights, were a sharp reminder to me that no movement for social justice moves forward without struggle, nor does forward movement necessarily go in a straight line.

Televangelist and political power broker Rev. Pat Robertson called feminism a "socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

We can laugh at this outrageous statement only long enough to notice who holds political power in all three branches of the federal government and many sates today.

In the pressure cooker of vilification and political retribution, it is tempting to quit or squabble about strategy.

To question the agenda, to retreat, reframe, retrench—when we know we must always move forward, fueled by passionate commitment for our mission and values.

The global women’s movement--not those who have opposed progress for women--has always advocated for the full panoply of just social policies from economic justice to universal access to quality health care.

And all of us who support it need the political will, courage, commitment, stamina and a never-ending creation of inspiring initiatives that touch real people's lives.

A movement, after all, has to move.

Let us remember, proudly, that we have changed the world -- much for the better -- for justice and equality. That's exactly what scares our adversaries so much.

We will keep on moving forward. We will not be deterred.

I’ll never forget a group of African women at the Beijing conference who told a story about how they stamped out spousal abuse in their village.

The women banded together, took their cooking pots and took up positions outside of the homes of men who had committed violent acts against their wives.

They banged those pots so loudly that the whole neighborhood took note and the men agreed to change their behavior.

Each country has different reasons to bang the pots on this international women's day 2006.

But the refrain for all of us who aspire to global justice for women is the same.

Gonna raise our voices boldly, never turning back, never turning back.

Gonna keep on moving forward, never turning back, never turning back.

Feminist Majority Foundation: Nine New Pro-Choice Democratic Women to Enter Congress

Source: http://feministmajority.org/elections/2008.asp

Dear Congressional Council Members,

Thank you for all you did to help make the 2008 elections a smashing win for feminists. We are all so excited.

We just completed an analysis of the election. Nine new pro-choice Democratic women will be entering Congress: seven in the House [Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ); Betsy Markey (D-CO); Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL); Debbie Halvorson (D-IL); Chellie Pingree (D-ME); Dina Titus (D-NV); and Marcia Fudge (D-OH)] and two in the Senate [Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)], Two more pro-choice women may still win in House races that they are still counting [Darcy Burner (D-WA) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH)].

We picked up at least 18 pro-choice votes in the House and 5 in the Senate - with 8 House seats still to be determined and 4 Senate seats. We are still hoping for more gains.

We defeated all 3 anti-choice state ballot measures in South Dakota, Colorado, and California. Actually we smashed the fetal personhood ballot measure in Colorado 73%-27%. Hopefully we will NEVER see it again on a state ballot. In South Dakota we defeated the abortion ban for the 2nd time by a strong 55%-45%. And finally we defeated for a third time the California parental notification initiative, 52.4% to 47.6%. In both the South Dakota and California initiatives the deceptive wording tactics did not work. We are still waiting to see if we finally defeated the Colorado Affirmative Action Ban - we are ahead as they continue to count the votes.

Yet even on this marvelous Election Day we had some crushing losses. Notably Proposition 8 (gay marriage). And too many talented feminist women candidates lost - some in close races. But we will be back - stronger and stronger.

Please visit our 2008 Election Central - http://feministmajority.org/elections/2008.asp - for election results on Ballot Measures, Women Candidates, Reproductive Choice and Balance of Power (Democrats v. Republicans).

We're very excited about the future possibilities. We will no longer have to fight daily to save the gains of the last 40 years. And at last, we will move forward again.

Thanks again for all you do - if you have any exciting ideas for the transition let us know. Let's dream big and then help to make it happen.

For Equality,

Eleanor Smeal
Feminist Majority PAC

Women's eNews: House Races in U.S. Push Women's Numbers to New High

Election Night nudged up the female composition of the next U.S. House of Representatives by three lawmakers, to a record 74, Alison Bowen reports today. But the political gender gap remains wide, with women's share of the House staying at 16 percent.


House Races Push Women's Numbers to New High
By Alison Bowen
WeNews correspondent

(WOMENSENEWS)--The number of women in the U.S. House of Representatives will reach a high of 74 when the victors of Tuesday's elections take office in January.

While marking a gain of three legislators, the results failed to push women's stake into the 20 percent territory considered minimal for exerting significant voting-bloc pressure.

"I think it shows us that victories are incremental," said Claire Giesen, executive director of the Washington-based National Women's Political Caucus. "Most of the time it's two steps forward and one back. We just have to keep at it."

"It's great that we are gaining momentum, because that's important," said Marie Wilson, founder and president of the White House Project, the New York group that promotes more women in office. "But it just really speaks to the fact that we have to do a great deal more if we're going to reach parity in government."

Wilson and others think 33 percent is a better figure to work toward. She says women can take more control when they have one-third of power, as they do in Norway, which has more than 33 percent of women in its legislature.

The elections were nonetheless cheered by groups such as the National Women's Political Caucus and Washington-based political action committee EMILY's List, who expect Congress to provide much stronger support for a woman's right to choose.

One major symbol of that was the victory by Democrat Betsy Markey over Republican incumbent Marilyn Musgrave in Colorado.

"It's a positive sign for us when we replace women with women who stand for our issues," Giesen said.

Social Issues Flavored Colorado Race
Markey edged out Musgrave by 10 percentage points in a race that featured a wave of negative campaign ads highlighting their contrasting positions on social issues including abortion.

The race drew more than $3 million in independent spending from interest groups, according to a report in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Musgrave's re-election bid was viewed as a bellwether of the declining influence of social conservatives both in Congress and in Colorado, where the once solidly Republican electorate has shifted to the Democrats.

Musgrave made abortion rights a key issue for her term in Congress and introduced a federal bill to require parental notification for minors seeking abortion.

Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York, said that a higher number of pro-choice politicians "represents a major step toward getting our country back on track and ensuring that our lawmakers have the right priorities, like support for women's health care."

Two factors in particular--a high number of female political veterans and a strong Democratic headwind--helped women in the election. Of the 133 female major party nominees, 96, or 72 percent, were Democrats.

"Women in Congress are disproportionately Democrats, so big Democratic years tend to be good for women candidates," says Susan Carroll, senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick.

Ten More Women in the House
Five women won open House races, where there were no incumbents. And five female challengers unseated incumbents.

Those 10 join 64 female incumbents who were re-elected.

Some of the challengers prevailed over other women--such as Markey v. Musgrave in Colorado--which combined with some women's losses and others' retirements to keep the female percentage of the House stagnant at 16 percent.

Darcy Burner, a challenger in Washington state, is the only race left that is "too close to call" by the Center for American Women and Politics, which tracks women in political office.

Both Burner and Republican incumbent Dave Reichert had 50 percent of the vote with 41 percent of precincts reporting by Wednesday afternoon. Burner worked for Microsoft before running for Congress in 2006, when she lost narrowly to Reichert in a recount.

"She never stopped running," Giesen said. "She brought youth and freshness to the race. I'm really surprised that she didn't run away with a victory."

Democrat Marcia Fudge of Ohio won her race easily against Republican Thomas Pekarek. Fudge filled the seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who died Aug. 19 at age 58. Tubbs Jones, a prominent African American House member, was Fudge's mentor.

Democrat Chellie Pingree of Maine secured 56 percent of the vote in her race against Republican challenger Charles Summers.

But Democrat Kay Barnes in Missouri failed to unseat incumbent Rep. Sam Graves, who received 59 percent of the vote. Barnes' support dwindled last month and she was unable to close the gap.

And in Ohio, the race between Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy and Republican Steve Stivers remains unsettled. Wednesday morning, CNN projected that Kilroy had lost but retracted the projection in the afternoon.

Losses for Women as Well
Giesen said she was stunned at the losses of three Democrats: Linda Stender in New Jersey, Judy Baker in Missouri and Christine Jennings in Florida.

Stender, a Democrat, ran for an open seat in New Jersey against Republican Leonard Lance and lost by 10 percentage points, a big gap for those who expected her to win easily.

In Missouri, Baker lost by three percentage points to Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer.

In Florida, Jennings' also was a large loss. She won 38 percent of the vote against opponent Republican incumbent Vernon Buchanan, who received 55 percent of the vote.

Three Democratic candidates finished strongly for House seats. In Florida, Suzanne Kosmas was projected to win by 16 percentage points against Republican incumbent Tom Feeney. In Maine, Chellie Pingree won by 10 percentage points against Republican Charles Summers. And in Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick won by 16 percentage points against Republican Sydney Hay.

Giesen hoped a Democratic tide would produce upset victories for two Democrats in Ohio: Victoria Wulsin and Sharen Neuhardt. Both women lost, but four other women picked up wins in the state, including Fudge and three incumbents: Republican Jean Schmidt, Democrat Marcy Kaptur and Democrat Betty Sutton.

Two Democrats considered potential upsets were Linda Ketner in South Carolina and Annette Taddeo in Florida. Both lost to incumbents.

Ketner, who challenged Republican Henry Brown, would have been the first openly gay South Carolinian to take office. Taddeo challenged Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has been in office for nearly 20 years.

The White Houses Project's Wilson said she kept her eye on two Western races: Republican Cynthia Lummis in Wyoming, who won by 10 percentage points; and Democrat Jill Derby in Nevada, who lost by 11 percentage points.

Alison Bowen is a New York City-based reporter covering the presidential campaign for Women's eNews. Her work also appears in the New York Daily News.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama Statement on 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Decision from January 2008

Obama Statement on 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Decision
Chicago, IL | January 22, 2008

Chicago, IL -- Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement on the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

"Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect a woman's right to choose. Last year, the Supreme Court decided by a vote of 5-4 to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban, and in doing so undermined an important principle of Roe v. Wade: that we must always protect women's health. With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election.

"Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.

"Moreover, I believe in and have supported common-sense solutions like increasing access to affordable birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies. In the Illinois state Senate, when Congress failed to require insurance plans to cover FDA-approved contraceptives, I made sure those contraceptives were covered for women in Illinois. In the U.S. Senate, I've worked with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on a bill that would make birth control more affordable for low-income and college women, and introduced the Senate version of Representative Hilda Solis' bill to reduce unintended pregnancies in communities of color. As President, I will improve access to affordable health care and work to ensure that our teens are getting the information and services they need to stay safe and healthy.

"But we also know that Roe v. Wade is about more than a woman's right to choose; it's about equality. It's about whether our daughters are going to have the same opportunities as our sons. And so to truly honor that decision, we need to update the social contract so that women can free themselves, and their children, from violent relationships; so that a mom can stay home with a sick child without getting a pink slip; so that she can go to work knowing that there's affordable, quality childcare for her children; and so that the American dream is within reach for every family in this country. This anniversary reminds us that it's not enough to protect the gains of the past – we have to build a future that's filled with hope and possibility for all Americans."


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ipas calls on US President-Elect to be Global Leader for Women's Rights

Ipas calls on U.S. president-elect to be global leader for women’s rights

Ipas welcomes Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Under President-elect Obama’s leadership, the new administration will be able to restore the United States to the forefront in the global movement to promote women’s reproductive health and rights. Ipas calls on the new administration to take early action to rescind the Global Gag Rule, eliminate abortion funding bans and meet our international commitments to protect women’s health.

“More than 500,000 women have died from unsafe abortion during the eight-year tenure of the Bush administration because they have not had access to comprehensive reproductive health care,” said Elizabeth Maguire, President and CEO of Ipas. “President-elect Obama has an opportunity — and we believe the passion and commitment — to make a huge difference for women’s reproductive health and rights.”

President-elect Obama can take three steps almost immediately following his inauguration to dramatically improve women’s health:

1. Rescind the Global Gag Rule. The Global Gag Rule disqualifies private organizations in the developing world from U.S. funding if they engage in any abortion-related work, even if they engage in this work with their own funds. Eliminating this ban will allow family planning programs to expand their work preventing unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, re-open clinics and outreach services, and enable health-care experts to freely participate in debates to improve health policies for women.

2. End ban on U.S. funding for abortion care. A 1973 law named after Sen. Jesse Helms blocks U.S. foreign assistance from being used for abortion care, referral and advocacy. These activities are legal in the United States and virtually all aid-recipient countries. The Helms Amendment severely limits effort to reduce maternal mortality in countries like Nepal. In 2002, Nepal legalized abortion to reduce maternal deaths and injuries from unsafe abortion. Without the Helms Amendment, U.S. foreign assistance could play an important role in training and equipping health care providers to provide safe abortion care, saving tens of thousands of lives and dramatically reducing unintended pregnancy. In the past decade, another 15 countries have expanded the grounds for legal abortion; the United States should support their efforts to prevent deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions.

3. Rejoin the global community and support international efforts to improve women’s access to family planning and safe abortion care. Before the current Bush Administration, the United States helped shape international agreements that were both essential for women’s health and rights and consistent with fundamental American values and constitutional principles. President-elect Obama can demonstrate his commitment to international cooperation by restoring funding to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, to support the critical work that agency does to promote voluntary family planning and maternal health in 150 countries. Furthermore, we call on President-elect Obama to work with global partners to transform the international agreements the United States has forged and signed into real, lasting improvements for women’s health and rights.

“Ipas’s partners and colleagues around the world — women and health-care providers and policymakers — are eager for new leadership from the United States,” said Maguire. “In the years to come, we are confident that the new administration will provide that leadership. The lives of millions of women, girls and their families are at stake.”

# # #

Ipas is an international organization that works around the world to increase women's ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, and to reduce abortion-related deaths and injuries. We believe that women everywhere must have the opportunity to determine their futures, care for their families and manage their fertility.

Catholics for Choice Statement on U.S. Election Results

Washington DC—Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued a statement today on the US election results and the priorities for the next president.

“Initial results show that 54% of the Catholic vote went to President-elect Barack Obama. This shows that the majority of Catholics voted their conscience when deciding who should be the next president, and ignored the single-issue dictates of a few bishops who declared that it was unacceptable to vote for him because of his prochoice position.

“The next administration will have to work hard to repair the damage done during the last eight years. Undoubtedly, concerns about America’s economic security and military engagements overseas will garner a great deal of attention. However, the next administration and Congress must also work for advances in reproductive health care in the US and abroad. The priorities include:

Providing comprehensive and affordable health care to all Americans. This includes funding for comprehensive sex education and family planning programs that reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion, as well as providing support for women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.

Restoring the United States’ leadership position on women’s rights, international family planning and global development issues. This includes the restoration of the US contribution to UNFPA and the repeal of the Mexico City policy that restricts US funding for foreign NGOs that work on abortion.

Working towards an end to the culture wars over abortion and towards an era that respects the right of women to access legal abortion in a timely manner. To that end, we need to restore scientific integrity to federal agencies by appointing qualified personnel to leadership roles and advisory committees irrespective of their personal beliefs about abortion and contraception and by appointing judges who will uphold the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade.

Respecting the conscience of each American. The next president should remove any refusal clauses affecting federal health programs beyond the traditional exemption for the direct provision of abortion and work to make the equitable provision of reproductive-health services a priority at both the state and federal levels.”


Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well being and respect and affirm the moral capacity of women and men to make decisions about their lives.

Center for Reproductive Rights Letter to President-Elect Obama

November 5, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama:

It is truly an auspicious time in America as we look forward to your inauguration and the opportunity it brings for positive change. I write to urge you to make reproductive health and rights a priority of your Administration. Under your direction, the United States can once again become a leader on these issues.

Founded in 1992, the Center for Reproductive Rights is the only global legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing women’s reproductive and sexual health care as a basic human right. The Center for Reproductive Rights advances women's equality worldwide by securing reproductive rights in statutory, constitutional, and international human rights law.

Through litigation and advocacy, the Center works to ensure that women have access, without discrimination, to reproductive health information, contraception, abortion,
and obstetrics care. In the last two years, we argued Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) in the U.S. Supreme Court and litigated in state and federal courts on a wide range of reproductive rights issues, including a pending lawsuit against the FDA to grant over-the-counter status to emergency contraception as supported by the Agency's scientific experts. Internationally, the Center works at the United Nations, and has filed groundbreaking cases in the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American human rights system, and has provided legal analysis and support in precedent-setting cases in national courts in Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. We have partnered with women's rights advocates around the world, working in over 50 countries on cases, fact-finding reports, legal publications, and law reform efforts.

As a strong supporter of reproductive rights, you understand the values that underscore them –human dignity, self-determination, equality, and non-discrimination. These principles are embodied in the United States Constitution, one of the world’s earliest human rights documents, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You also understand, however, that the mere recognition of rights is not enough: they must improve the lives and health of women. Access to comprehensive information, contraception, abortion, prenatal, and obstetrics care are critical. To take just one example, we cannot meaningful address the high rates of adolescent pregnancy in this country while at the same time denying
comprehensive sexuality education and supporting ineffective abstinence-only programs. In order for this country to reduce high rates of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and maternal mortality, and to eliminate the shameful racial disparities in reproductive health, we must recognize a broader vision, guided by human rights principles, grounded in science and not ideology, and reflecting the understanding that access to reproductive health care will improve the lives of women and families.

The United States has been a world leader in championing equality and human rights, and of supporting access to essential reproductive health care around the world. For eight years, however, we have suffered under the yoke of an Administration that has suppressed science to the detriment of health and has done damage to constitutional and human rights values. Decades of hard-won progress have been eroded. Federal court decisions have undermined the protections established by Roe v. Wade; funding for basic reproductive health care is inadequate; and maternal mortality rates among women of color remain shamefully high. At the U.N., the United States has undermined protection for reproductive rights and health, and restrictions that the U.S. places on foreign assistance, hamper rather than promote progress.

These injustices demand a bold agenda for change. The Center for Reproductive Rights has laid out detailed policy recommendations in our Reproductive Rights Federal Policy Agenda.1 Among all of the positive changes that are possible under your Administration, three stand out for immediate action:

1 Available at: http://www.reproductiverights.org/pdf/FPA_UPDATED.pdf.

1. Promote Reproductive Health Policies Guided by Science and Not Ideology
The policy agenda of the previous Administration was driven by ideology, often in disregard of objective scientific evidence. The detrimental effects of this ideological agenda are particularly troubling in the area of reproductive health. For example, in spite of numerous studies, including a report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, demonstrating that abstinence education programs don’t work, the previous Administration championed these programs. Additionally, in denying unrestricted over-the counter access to emergency contraception for women of all ages, officials within the Food and Drug Administration, apparently under pressure from the White House, rejected the findings of the FDA’s own scientific review staff.

The Center for Reproductive Rights recommends that you 1) strike funding for abstinence-only programs in the proposed budgets for the Title V Maternal-Child health Block grant and the Community-Based Abstinence-Education programs, 2) appoint agency heads, including the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Food and Drug Administration, who will not allow politics to trump science, and 3) that you direct the Secretary of HHS to instruct the FDA to review and evaluate the scientific data underlying the age restriction on over-the-counter access to EC, to ensure that the FDA’s policy is based on
medical evidence and not ideology.

2. Appoint Federal Judges Committed to Supporting Established Constitutional Rights
The importance of judicial appointments to the preservation of reproductive rights in the U.S. cannot be understated. Judges address critical issues, including protection for abortion, issues affecting access to contraception, so-called conscientious refusals to provide health care, and sex discrimination claims. At this time, only four of the nine current Justices of the Supreme Court have expressed clear support for Roe v. Wade, and many believe that the fate of Roe hangs in the balance of the next appointment. Indeed, the Court’s decision in Carhart v. Gonzales (2007) upholding the federal abortion ban, signals five Justices’
willingness to further undermine constitutional protections for women’s reproductive rights and possibly to overturn Roe entirely. One particularly troubling aspect of that opinion is that the Court ignored findings of fact made by lower courts and based on sound medical evidence, and deferred to Congress’ “facts,” some of which were acknowledged to be demonstrably false. As Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent:

‘Today's decision is alarming. It refuses to take Casey and Stenberg seriously.
It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide
procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) … And, for the first
time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception
safeguarding a woman's health.'

In sharp contrast to the erosion of protection for reproductive rights in U.S. law, the global trend within United Nations’, regional, and national jurisprudence has been towards the recognition of reproductive rights as human rights. Recent decisions by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights have found that denying women abortions in certain circumstances violated human rights guarantees. In 2006, the Colombian Constitutional Court held that country’s ban on abortion unconstitutional, stating that: “Women’s sexual and reproductive rights have been finally recognized as human rights, and as such, they have become part of constitutional law, in turn a basic foundation of any democratic State.” In addition, in the last twenty years, 16 countries have liberalized their abortion laws. At a time when the world is moving towards greater recognition and protection of these rights, the United States, too, should be advancing and not retreating.

The Center recommends that you ensure that nominees to the federal bench, including the United States Supreme Court, will affirm recognized constitutional rights, including women’s right to choose an abortion.

3. Support Reproductive Rights and Health at the United Nations and Within Foreign Assistance Programs

Over the past eight years, the United States has undermined decades of global improvements in women’s reproductive health and in the recognition of reproductive rights as basic human rights. At the United Nations, in meetings to advance consensus documents supporting reproductive rights and health that were agreed to by the U.S in Beijing and Cairo, U.S. representatives obstructed progress by pushing ultimately unsuccessful anti-abortion and abstinence-only agendas. U.S. foreign assistance policy has also reflected extreme ideological positions that have ignored the dire need to make family planning more available in developing nations (at least 100 million couples worldwide have an unmet need for family planning), including the re-imposition of the “Mexico City Policy,” (the Global Gag Rule), and the denial of funds to the United Nations Population Fund ($240 million since 2002).

The Center recommends that you 1) nominate representatives to the United Nations who are committed to living up to the U.S.’s prior commitments to promote and protect reproductive rights, 2) repeal the Global Gag Rule, and 3) restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund.

We hope that your vision for reproductive rights and health will go further than simply undoing the policies of the previous Administration, which continue to inflect needless deprivations. We ask that you work toward a nation and world in which all women are free to decide whether and when to have children, where all women have access to quality reproductive health care, where all women can exercise their choices without coercion or discrimination, and where all women can participate with full dignity as equal members of society.

The Center stands ready to work with you and hope that you will take advantage of the assistance and expertise that we can provide as you move ahead to develop sound policies that reflect both science and respect for constitutional and human rights principles.


Nancy Northup
Center for Reproductive Rights

Center for Reproductive Rights Calls on President-Elect Obama to Restore U.S. as World Leader in Reproductive Rights.

Center for Reproductive Rights Calls on President-Elect Obama to Restore U.S. as World Leader in Reproductive Rights Center Sends Letter Outlining Three Key Steps toward Responsible Reproductive Health Policy

NEW YORK, NY (November 5, 2008) – Today the Center for Reproductive Rights called on President-Elect Barack Obama to champion women’s reproductive freedom and equality and restore America’s leadership on these issues. In a three-page letter, the Center urged the President-Elect to adopt policies that would allow all women to get the safe and affordable reproductive health care they need. The Center also appealed to the new administration to join the growing number of countries and international courts recognizing that reproductive rights are central to a woman’s right to human dignity, self-determination, equality, and health.

“With the election of Barack Obama, the Center for Reproductive Rights looks forward to an end to the Bush administration’s relentless assault on women’s reproductive health and rights. Over the past eight years, while there’s been growing recognition of reproductive rights as human rights around the world, the United States has been moving backwards,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Now under an Obama administration, the U.S. can reverse the eight years of regressive policies and finally return to the stage as a world leader on women’s reproductive health and human rights.”

Click here to watch Nancy Northup comment on Obama victory on YouTube:

The Center contends in its letter that the government cannot meaningfully address the high rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections or eliminate the shameful racial disparities in reproductive health, without adopting policies that ensure a woman’s constitutional rights and are guided by human rights principles. To that end, the Center asks that the new administration immediately take action in three key areas: 1) nominate federal judges who understand that reproductive health is a matter of fundamental rights; 2) enact U.S. policies driven by science and not ideology; and 3) promote reproductive health and rights at the United Nations and in foreign aid programs.

Nominate Federal Judges Committed to Supporting Established Constitutional Rights

Policy Recommendation: Ensure that nominees to the federal bench will affirm recognized constitutional rights, including a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

Over the last 35 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, the anti-choice movement has successfully limited women’s access to abortion in numerous ways, including bans on funding, restrictions on young women’s access and state-imposed delays and biased counseling requirements. As it stands now, the legal underpinnings of the right to abortion have been severely weakened and only four of the nine Supreme Court Justices have expressed their support for Roe. In fact in 2007, by upholding the first-ever federal ban on abortion in the case Gonzalez v. Carhart, the Court signaled its willingness to further undermine constitutional protections for a woman’s right to abortion and possibly to overturn Roe entirely. This is in sharp contrast to the global trend toward recognition of reproductive rights as human rights, including recent decisions from the Constitutional Court of Colombia, Mexico Supreme Court, the United Nations Human Rights Committee and European Court of Human Rights.

Promote Reproductive Health Policies Guided by Science, Not Ideology

Policy Recommendations: 1) Strike funding for abstinence-only programs in the proposed budgets for the Title V Maternal-Child Health Block grant and the Community-Based Abstinence-Education programs; 2) appoint agency heads, particularly to Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA, who won’t allow politics to trump science; and 3) direct the Secretary of HHS to instruct the FDA to ensure its over-the-counter policy for Plan B is based on medical evidence and not ideology.

The Bush administration’s ideological agenda has been in complete disregard of objective scientific evidence and particularly troubling in the area of reproductive health. Despite numerous studies finding that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are ineffective, the federal government has spent over $1.3 billion to promote them. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly refused to make the emergency contraceptive Plan B available without a prescription to women of all ages even though its own scientific review staff has recommended as much.

Promote Reproductive Health and Rights at the United Nations and in Foreign Aid Programs

Policy Recommendations: 1) Nominate U.N. representatives committed to living up to the U.S.’s prior commitments to promote and protect reproductive rights; 2) repeal the Global Gag Rule; and 3) restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund.

In the foreign policy realm, the Bush administration has adopted programs and polices that deny access to essential reproductive health care and impede progress in the recognition of reproductive rights as human rights. In 2001, Bush re-imposed the Global Gag Rule, banning U.S.-funded family planning groups based overseas from providing any abortion-related services. As a result, organizations that provide not only abortion, but contraception and HIV/AIDS prevention have been forced to close down, leaving countless women with no reproductive health care. In addition, to date, the Bush administration has blocked funding for the international development agency UNFPA, for seven consecutive years, amounting to approximately $235 million in lost U.S. support.

The Center’s letter to President-Elect Obama and its Reproductive Rights Federal Policy Agenda are available online, respectively, at http://www.reproductiverights.org/pdf/Dear President-Elect Obama.pdf and http://www.reproductiverights.org/pdf/FPA_UPDATED.pdf

About the Center for Reproductive Rights

Founded in 1992 in New York City, the Center for Reproductive Rights is the only global legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive health care as a basic human right. The Center works to ensure that women have access to comprehensive information on reproductive and sexual health, contraception, abortion, prenatal and obstetric care, and that women have access to these services free from discrimination. In the U.S., the Center's highly experienced litigators have helped millions of women and their families by securing Medicaid funding for abortions, striking abortion bans and other access restrictions and protecting teens' access to confidential reproductive health care services and information. In the last two years, we argued Gonzales v. Carhart before the U.S. Supreme Court and litigated over 20 cases on a range of reproductive rights issues.
Internationally, the Center has filed groundbreaking cases in the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American human rights system and before U.N. human rights bodies, and provided legal analysis and support in precedent-setting cases in national courts in Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. Our attorneys have partnered with women's rights advocates around the world, working in more than 50 countries on cases, fact-finding reports, legal publications, and law reform efforts. The Center is headquartered in New York City. For more information, please visit www.reproductiverights.org.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Guttmacher Institute:Abortion Laws Liberalised in 16 Countries Since 1998

Changes Reflect Continuation of Worldwide Trend Toward Greater Access
and Broader Recognition of Human Rights

In the 10 years since the last global review of abortion policies, 16 countries have increased the number of grounds on which abortions may be legally performed, while two have eliminated all such grounds, according to a study released today. An additional 10 countries maintained their existing grounds for abortion, but adopted changes to increase access to abortion, including decentralizing the approval of facilities where abortions may be obtained, expanding the types of providers who may perform the procedures and increasing the range of available methods to include medication abortion. According to authors Reed Boland of the Harvard School of Public Health and Laura Katzive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the legislative and regulatory changes in the countries included in both the 1998 and the 2008 review reflect a continuing global trend toward liberalization of abortion policies.

An important driving force behind this trend has been the growing concern among regional and international human rights bodies about the negative impact of abortion restrictions on women’s health and well-being. In 2003, the African Union adopted a protocol to guarantee the right to abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, or a pregnancy’s threat to the mental and physical health of the pregnant woman. As of 2007, 21 countries had ratified or signed on to the protocol.

At the regional level, some of the most notable changes in abortion policies occurred in Latin America. In 2006, Colombia’s constitutional court struck down the country’s blanket prohibition of abortion to permit termination of pregnancy when a woman’s life or health is endangered, as well as in cases of rape, incest or severe fetal impairment. In 2007, Mexico City changed its law to permit abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks’ gestation. Five additional Mexican states also added grounds on which abortion is permitted or not punishable. Two countries, however, moved in the opposite direction: In 1998 in El Salvador, all grounds for legal abortion were eliminated with the entry into force of a new penal code. Nicaragua similarly removed all grounds for abortion in 1996.

Procedural and legal barriers have also increased in eastern and central Europe since 1998, though the region’s laws remain among the most liberal in the world. Hungary and Latvia have established requirements that make obtaining an abortion more onerous, such as parental consent for women younger than 16, judgmental counseling and waiting periods. Though abortion on the grounds of social or demographic characteristics in the second trimester remains legal in Russia, the country defined these indications more narrowly, eliminating, among other grounds for the procedure, having a low income, being unmarried or having too many children.

In contrast, all changes in the past 10 years in East and South Asia and the Pacific were toward liberalization. In 2002, Nepal’s law was changed to permit abortion on request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and thereafter in cases of rape, incest or fetal impairment or if there is a threat to the woman’s life or physical or mental health. In addition, two territories and one state in Australia liberalized their policies.

The authors note that the trend toward liberalization of abortion laws should not mask the serious threats to reproductive rights that are present in many parts of the world. However, they believe this trend will be hard to reverse, particularly as more countries continue to recognize the impact of abortion restrictions on women’s human rights.

“Developments in Laws on Induced Abortion: 1998–2007” appears in the September 2008 issue of International Family Planning Perspectives.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Feminism Still Relevant in Modern Ireland, Forum Told

Feminism still relevant in modern Ireland, forum told


A PREDOMINANTLY female crowd of some 80 people gathered in Dublin last night to debate if feminism is still necessary in Ireland. The answer was a resounding yes.

Issues including reproductive rights, equality in the workplace, violence against women, public representation, prostitution and human trafficking were all discussed at the inaugural meeting of the Feminist Open Forum.

“The draconian laws in Ireland on abortion rights are the main reason I’m a feminist,” said Niav Keating of the pro-choice organisation Choice Ireland.

Ms Keating said the laws meant that 4,686 women travelled from Ireland to the UK, 485 travelled to the Netherlands and many others went elsewhere as “abortion tourists” last year.

Journalist and activist Therese Caherty said that despite some progress in recent years the worlds of politics, law and business were still dominated by men.

Ms Caherty said structural differences ensured this divide remained in place, with women continuing to carry out the majority of unpaid work, such as childcare and home-making, and that for this reason she believed feminism remained necessary.

“Children are the main reason why women are being held back,” said Independent Senator Ivana Bacik. “They don’t make it easy for women with young children to go back out into the working world.”

Ms Bacik said women continued to be underrepresented in public life and that the key to achieving equality in the workplace was the recognition of and introduction of full paternity rights.

Gráinne Healy, chairwoman of the European Observatory on Violence Against Women, said feminism was still necessary to address issues of genital mutilation, prostitution and human trafficking.

Ms Healy said a greater number of women in public life might see such human rights violations approached in a more effective manner.

She pointed to evidence from Sweden where in 1999 a majority-female parliament tackled prostitution by legislating to make soliciting sex, rather than working as a prostitute, an offence.

Elisa O’Donovan, of University College Dublin Students and Staff against Sexism, said a snapshot of modern Ireland highlighted that the “supposed liberation of women” over the past 20 years had not been a success.

She said the popularity of Bratz dolls, Kiss magazine and Sex and the City among children, teenagers and adults respectively made her believe the liberation and empowerment of women had not yet taken place.

Irish women still had massive self-esteem and body image issues, and had one of the highest rates of self-harm in Europe.

© 2008 The Irish Times

Northern Ireland Women Keep Abortions Secret

Northern Ireland women keep abortions secret

Bridget has a secret shared by tens of thousands of women in Northern Ireland: She travelled to England for an abortion that would be illegal here.

"I couldn't tell my parents. I couldn't risk telling my co-workers. I told them all I was going to a friend's wedding. I had to act all happy-clappy when I came home." said Bridget, 25, sipping a cup of tea as she recalled her lonely trip four years ago to a Liverpool clinic.

Bridget works in a central Belfast bank. She spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because, if her secret came out, she would expect hostility from her Roman Catholic family and religiously strict workmates, Protestant and Catholic alike.

"I wish I could talk about it to my mother. I'd tell my sister, but she'd only tell Ma." she said with a sad laugh and a shake of her head. "Abortion has to be this dirty wee secret you carry inside you. You get on a plane or a boat, and live a lie."

Northern Ireland's position is peculiar because it is part of a country, the United Kingdom, that was among the world's first to legalize abortion back in 1967. But the law has been blocked here. So, each year, an estimated 1,400 to 2,000 Northern Ireland residents travel across the Irish Sea to terminate their pregnancies.

Advocates of extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland argue that the prohibition here doesn't stop abortions. It just makes young women pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a procedure that, throughout Britain, is free through the United Kingdom's state-funded health service. But the latest attempt to bring Belfast in line with Britain, a cross-party amendment championed by a handful of English legislators in London, has not even been discussed.

Such manoeuvres reflect the unusual reality that, when it comes to abortion, the British Protestant and Irish Catholic politicians of Northern Ireland see eye to eye. Just two of the 108 politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly spoke out in favour of the English legislators' effort.

By contrast the leaders of all four parties in Northern Ireland's power-sharing administration, a dysfunctional coalition divided on many issues, shared platforms to reject the proposed amendment. They backed an anti-abortion petition drive that delivered 120,000 signatures in October to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's London office.

"Northern Ireland clearly has a pro-life majority. It's an issue that uniquely crosses the political divide here. Whether you're Catholic or Protestant doesn't matter when it comes to imposing the death penalty on innocent, unborn children." said Bernie Smyth, leader of Precious Life, a cross-community pressure group that was formed 11 years ago to keep abortion out of Northern Ireland. Smyth recently led an anti-abortion picket outside Parliament in London.

Back in Belfast, Precious Life activists mounted their usual weekday protest outside the office of the UK's Family Planning Association, the major centre for women facing unwanted pregnancies in Northern Ireland. A lone middle-aged woman handed out leaflets depicting a fetus torn to pieces.

Audrey Simpson, the Belfast centre's director, said the Precious Life activists posed a chronic irritant for her pregnant visitors who, in many cases, were already afraid of being identified as abortion-seekers.

She said the anti-abortion activists ``harass any woman, if they appear young or at a fertile age', even though most women are visiting other offices in the multi-agency building. "They'll try to give you literature and appeal to you, 'Don't murder your baby,' and they might even follow you all the way back to your car, shouting you're going to hell."

Simpson said about 600 pregnant women seek counselling from her office annually, and more than half opt for abortions in England.

Even though the Northern Ireland visitors are British taxpayers, they cannot use the state-funded health insurance and so must pay anything from $1,000 to $3,300. Increasingly, she said, women also were flying to the lower-cost alternative of the Netherlands or buying abortion-inducing pills off the Internet.

She noted that women travelled to her office from the neighbouring Republic of Ireland, where abortion also is illegal, because they were afraid of being seen by friends going into one of Dublin's own crisis-pregnancy counselling centres.

But she described Northern Ireland as much more socially rigid than the predominantly Catholic south.

"In normal societies you would at least have doctors and lawyers willing to advocate for abortion rights. There's healthy debate in the south. Not here. Not one doctor or lawyer will stick their head above the parapet." she said. "Here, the attitude is: Let's just ignore what we're making our young women do. Let's let Westminster (the British Parliament in London) handle this. It's ridiculous."

Bridget, who is engaged to be married, said she has yet to tell her fiance of her abortion, which followed the collapse of her previous relationship while studying at university.

"It's strange. I know he'd understand," she said. "But I'd be placing an unfair burden on him. I don't want him to have to carry that (information) around with him in this place. You have to bite your lip here about so many things. ... If we moved away, maybe to England or America, that's when I'd tell him."

Source: MacroWorld Investor, 30 October 2008

Update on the Abortion Debate in Spain

It has been announced yesterday evening that the Abortion Sub-commission which will analyse the reform of the current legislation on abortion in Spain, will start receiving the 30 experts as from November, 10. Those 30 experts were proposed by the political parties PSOE (socialists), PP (conservatives-right), IU-ERC-ICV (left) and the Grupo Mixto, while CiU (Catalonian right) and PNV (Basque right) have not proposed experts.

This Sub-Commission was set up last October 22nd, and will work in parallel with the Group of Experts at the Ministry of Equality. The Sub-Commission has a six-month period to elaborate its recommendations to be included in a future new legislation on abortion.

Under request of the PSOE group at the Spanish Congress, the Sub-Commission will also receive experts from feminists groups, pro-choice groups and spokepersons from clinics where legal aborts take place (such as the clinics gathered at ACAI, the Spanish association of clinics for abortions).

The list of experts proposed by the PSOE which will be received by the Sub-Commission include the following:

Ms Vicky Claeys (better known as Vicky Claeys), director for the Internantional Federation of Planned Parenthood
Ms Isabel Serrano, president for the Spanish Federation of Family Planning
Mr Santiago Barambio, president for ACAI (asociation of private clinics)
Mr Guillermo Sánchez, president for the Board of the Clínica Dator (private clinic)
Ms Marisa Soleto, president for the Fundación Mujeres (feminist organisation)
Ms Yolanda Besteiro, president for the NGO Federación de Mujeres Progresistas (feminists organisation)
Ms Altamira Gonzalo, president for the NGO Asociación de Mujeres Juristas Themis (a feminist organisation dealing with legal advisory for women)
Ms Elvira Méndez, director for the Association Health and Family
Mr Domingo Álvarez, gynaecologist and founder of the Planning Center La Cagiga at Santander
Mr Francisco Balanguer, professor of Constitutional Right at the University of Granada
Mr Tomás Salvador Vives, former vice-president for the Constitutional Court
Ms Margarita Delgado, a CSIC researcher (a Spanish state think-tank)

Meanwhile, the Popular Party spokesperson Ms Sandra Moneo said that her group will propose 12 individuals, which include the following:

Mr Pedro González-Trevijano, dean for the University Rey Juan Carlos
Ms Carmen Iglesias, member for the Real Academy of History
Mr Benigno Blanco, president for the Spanish Family Forum
Mr Eduardo Hetfelder, president for the Institute of Family Policy

From the side of the group formed by ERC-IU-ICV, the experts proposed include Ms Justa Montero (from the State Coordinating Committee of Feminists Organisations of Spain State), Ms Elisa Sesma (a gynaecologist), Ms Mercedes García (a professor of Penal Right at the Autonomous University of Barcelona), and Ms Silvia Aldavert (coordinator for the Association of Family Planning for Catalonia and Balears).

The Grupo Mixto has proposed the following individuals: Mr José Luis Doval, gynaecologist from the Hospital Nuestra Señora del Cristal Piñor from Ourrense (Galicia, Spain), and the expert on sexual education Ms Mercedes Oliveira.

Victoria (Australia) Decriminalises Abortion

Many thanks to Simone Cusack, LL.M.,for summarising the new law in the Australian state of Victoria for this blog.

Simone Cusack is a former Reproductive Health Fellow at the University of Toronto, She currently works as a Public Interest Lawyer with the Public Interest Law Clearing House in Melbourne, Australia.


On 10 October 2008, the state Parliament of Victoria passed the Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008, marking an historic occasion for Victorian women. The new law, which is the most liberal in Australia, decriminalizes abortion. Prior to the passing of this new law, the Crimes Act 1958
(Vic) made it a criminal offence to bring about, or to attempt to bring about, or to assist a person to bring about, an unlawful termination of pregnancy.

Under the new law, a woman is permitted to have an abortion at any time during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

A woman who is more than 24 weeks pregnant is permitted to have an abortion provided that the medical practitioner:
• “reasonably believes that the abortion is
appropriate in all the circumstances;” and,
• “has consulted at least one other registered
medical practitioner who also reasonably believes that the abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances.”

In considering whether an abortion is
“appropriate in all the circumstances,” regard must be had to “all relevant medical circumstances” and “the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances.”

Significantly, the new law addresses the use of drugs to cause abortion by allowing a registered pharmacist or a registered nurse to supply or administer a drug or drugs to cause an abortion.

Registered practitioners who have a conscientious objection to abortion are obligated, under the new law, to inform the woman of the objection, and to refer her to a registered health practitioner who does not share that objection. Notwithstanding any conscientious objection, a registered medical practitioner is required to perform an abortion in an emergency, where it is necessary to preserve a woman’s life.

The bill will come into effect after receiving royal assent.

The bill is available at:
Further information on the bill is available at:

The Victorian Law Reform Commission’s report on the decriminalisation of terminations of pregnancy, which preceded the introduction of the new bill, is available at: