Ms Magazine held a forum at the National Press Club on Wednesday to raise awareness for the effort to increase funding for international family planning to $1 billion in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms., moderated the forum. Dr. Solomon Orero, Dr. Nafis Sadik, Daniel Pellegrom, and Eleanor Smeal addressed the issue of international family planning and the impact of US policies, domestically and internationally.
US funding for international family planning programs has decreased 40 percent in real money, despite the fact that the population of the world has increased and abstinence-only programs create more unintended pregnancies. The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY 2009 calls on the US to increase its international family planning assistance from $457 million to $1 billion, including $63.5 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which the Bush administration refuses to fund.
Dr. Orero, a leading Kenyan women’s health physician, spoke about the grave consequences of restrictive US policies like the global gag rule. He said that in the maternity wards of Kenyan hospitals, more than half of the women are there after botched abortions. Dr. Sadik, special envoy to the UN for HIV/AIDS in Asia and former executive director of the UNFPA, spoke about US responsibilities to international family planning. Pellegrom, president of Pathfinder International reminded the press that reproductive health care is a basic human right and cannot be ignored. Each minute around the world, a woman or girl dies in childbirth.
“There are things we don’t have solutions for,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal, “but we can stop unintended pregnancies.”
Take Action! Tell House Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs know you support empowering women and increasing substantially international family planning funding.
Sections of the forum will be available for viewing at The Feminist Majority’s YouTube channel Monday.