Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) introduced the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2010 late last week. According to Congresswoman Clarke’s press release, the bill (HR 5121), “seeks to strengthen and expand the U.S. government’s current program on international family planning and reproductive health into a more comprehensive sexual and reproductive health program.” Its specific provisions would support family planning programs that aim to reduce unsafe abortion, prevent the spread of STIs and HIV, promote the use of contraceptives, train healthcare professionals, and provide education and outreach services.
The president of the International Women’s Health Coalition, Adrienne Germain, applauded the introduction of the bill, and said in a press release, “Access to contraception and safe abortion services is fundamental to a woman’s ability to exercise her rights to control her body, to self-determination, and to maintain her health. In the 21st century, no woman should die or suffer the traumas of an unsafe or illegal abortion.” She added, “Providing the full menu of services that women and young people need is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”
Ninety-nine percent of pregnancy-related deaths occur in the developing world and the vast majority of these fatalities are preventable. Representative Clarke further elaborated, “providing contraceptives to the 215 million women in developing countries who are not able to access modern contraceptive methods would avert: 53 million unintended pregnancies; 150,000 women from dying of pregnancy-related complications; 600,000 children from losing their mothers, and 25 million induced abortions each year. Simultaneously investing in family planning services and pregnancy-related care would achieve even greater results by slashing maternal deaths by 70% and newborn deaths by almost half.”