Women Leaders Speak Out on US Global Family Planning Policies

Two days before the March for Women’s Lives, women’s rights leaders from around the world urged the Bush Administration to reinstate and increase international family planning funding and to repeal the Global Gag Rule.

At a press conference on global abortion politics, Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal challenged reporters to “go to maternity wards to document the suffering” women are facing around the world as a result of US international family planning policies. Smeal also asserted that the 500,000 maternal deaths and 70,000 deaths a year from botched, unsafe abortions around the world could be prevented.

Frances Kissling, president of Catholics For a Free Choice (CFFC), said the “alliance between the Bush Administration and the Vatican has limited women’s rights internationally.” Anu Kumar, the executive vice-president of Ipas, asserted that countries “cannot have freedom and democracy if they can’t have maternal health. Kumar described the Global Gag Rule as “fundamentally undemocratic,” censoring freedom of speech.

According to Kumar, women from the US and around the world are marching for women’s lives this weekend to fight the current “systematic and organized assault on reproductive rights.”

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