SIGN UP FOR JOBS NEWS & ALERTS:
print Print    Share Share  
Share Share & Bookmark

Press Releases

To arrange a media interview with Ellie Smeal or other spokespersons at Feminist Majority Foundation, contact the FMF media department at 703-522-2214.

 

Date: April-23-04
Contact: Jeanne K.C. Clark
Phone: 412-736-6092
Email:

LEADERS AND ACTIVISTS FROM 57 COUNTRIES TO MARCH FOR WOMENS LIVES

Arlington, VA -- The March for Womens Lives in Washington this weekend will show that womens sexual and reproductive rights have enough national and international support to be untouchable by any politician wishing to stay in office, march leaders said today.

Eleanor Smeal, president of Feminist Majority, one of seven sponsors and 1,400 groups taking part in the Sunday march, told a news conference at the National Press Club that the event will create another third rail of politics, like Social Security and discourage attacks from conservative critics. Representatives of womens groups from 57 countries will march behind their flags to affirm the global need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive rights, she said.

Funding cuts for international family planning programs and restrictive aid policies of the Bush administration have caused mayhem and a health care crisis in developing countries, where up to half of available hospital beds are taken by women suffering and dying from complications of childbirth or from unsafe abortions, Smeal continued. The Bush administration is now blocking aid to education and democratic free speech.

Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), said the marchers are extremely disturbed by what she called an unholy alliance between the Bush administration and the Vatican to destroy womens lives and womens aspirations. They will lobby Congress after the march to register their views, she said.

Ana Kumar, executive vice president of Ipas, which combats abortion-related deaths, noted that 70,000 women die each year from unsafe abortions because of legal barriers, technological shortages and social stigma. All the deaths are entirely preventable, she said, but the U.S. government is on the other side.

Elfriede Harth of CFFCs European branch noted that the European Union had contributed $32 million in 2002 to the UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund to help fill the decency gap of the Bush administrations withdrawal of $34 million for the agency. It could have been an increase instead, she said, and called for restoration of U.S. funding. Canada donated another $4 million to the agency, which supports family planning and reproductive health programs in 140 countries.

In Portugal, Ireland, Poland and Malta, abortions are illegal and punishable by jail terms, said Helena Pinto, president of Portugals UMAR womens advancement association. We are a modern country, but on this issue we have medieval laws, she said. Teresa Lanza Monje of Bolivia, regional director of Catholics for the Right to Decide, said maternal mortality rates are rising in her country, where women have an average of five children each, because of U.S. funding cuts and restrictions on family planning programs that receive U.S. aid.

A complete delegation list is available at www.planetwire.org.

The 57 countries represented at the March for Womens Lives include:

ALBANIA
AFGHANISTAN
ARGENTINA
AUSTRALIA
BANGLADESH
BOLIVIA
BOTSWANA
BRAZIL
CAMEROON
CANADA
CHILE
COLOMBIA
COSTA RICA
DENMARK
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
EGYPT
ETHIOPIA
FRANCE
GERMANY
GHANA
GUATEMALA
INDIA
JAMAICA/USA
KENYA
LEBANON
LAOS LEBANON
MALAWI
MEXICO
MOLDOVA
NEPAL
NETHERLANDS
NICARAGUA
NIGERIA
NORWAY
PERU
PHILIPPINES
POLAND
PORTUGAL
PUERTO RICO
ROMANIA
SENEGAL
SLOVAKIA
SOUTH AFRICA
SPAIN
ST. VINCENT
SURINAME
SWEDEN
THAILAND
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
UGANDA
UKRAINE
UNITED KINGDOM
UNITED STATES
URUGUAY
VENEZUELA
VIETNAM
ZAMBIA

###