Wednesday, February 07, 2007

15-year-old Natalia reports on Women's Health Worldwide

Hey, girls! Is women’s health important to you? Then read on for some important information on an American policy that most citizens don’t even know exists!

Since 2001, women and girls in developing countries (also known as Third World nations) have been living under the Global Gag Rule. It’s a policy President Bush established when he took office that cuts American funding to family planning and women’s health organizations that use their own money to fund abortion services.

The Global Gag Rule (which earned its name for suppressing free speech and debate on abortion-related issues) hasn’t just restricted women’s reproductive rights by limiting access to abortion; it’s also weakened family planning programs in general, and has limited the supply of contraceptives (which give women a way to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and decide when they want to get pregnant). It’s even caused some health care organizations to have to shut down. In short, the Global Gag Rule cuts essential funding and jeopardizes women’s health.

The good news:

On January 22, U.S. Representatives Nita Lowey (a Democrat from New York) and Christopher Shays (a Republican from Connecticut) introduced the Global Democracy Promotion Act (GDPA), which would end the Global Gag Rule and allow international family planning programs to receive the funds they need to serve women and families.

Why I support the Global Democracy Promotion Act:

The GDPA would end a policy that hurts the women and girls who most need our help. As many as 200,000 women and girls die from unsafe abortions each year, and ending the Global Gag Rule would allow them to access the health care they desperately need.

A few other important points:
  • The Global Gag Rule was meant decrease access to abortions, but it’s actually increased abortions around the world: with less family planning services, women are having more unwanted pregnancies, and more abortions.
  • Like in the United States, the ban on abortion that the Global Gag Rule imposes affects ALL women and girls, and doesn’t take into consideration women and girls whose pregnancies are the result of rape or incest.
  • By hurting family planning services, the Global Gag Rule is weakening many other health care services, like the care new mothers and those affected by HIV/AIDS receive. In fact, The Global Gag Rule Impact Project reports that the same family planning providers who lose funding due to the gag rule are those on the front line in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS
  • Access to family planning helps reduce abortions and deaths caused by unsafe abortion. Regardless of whether abortions are legal, women in desperate situations still seek them out.

Above all, I think this issue comes down to a basic respect for international women’s rights. Speaking with Ms. magazine, Kenyan doctor Solomon Orero summed up the effect of the Global Gag Rule: “Women are dying because we don't care enough for their lives.”

Make a difference for women worldwide!

You can visit Feminist Campus, a global activism site, and send a message to your congresspeople in support of the Global Democracy Promotion Act. (But remember to get your parent’s permission before sharing information like your name and address over the Internet!) Or send your representatives your own message through New Moon’s Letter to Congress Campaign! - Natalia


Tyler LePard said...

What a terrific post! I'm very impressed with this blog and encouraged by these girls' advocacy.

There's a great article on the Global Gag Rule in the New Statesman that Andrea Lynch blogged about on RH Reality Check.

Keep up the great work!


Natalia M. Thompson said...

Thanks for sharing the article--I really enjoyed it--and for the positive feedback on my post. It's always great to hear from like-minded readers!

Melinda said...

I disagree with the theme of the article. Waging war on the unborn is not the way to protect women's health. Countries need to protect the rights of the unborn as well as women by educating women and helping them make good choices to avoid becoming pregnant. Unborn children are people too and deserve to be protected just like their mothers.