Congress Daily and Reuters
reported Oct. 12 that international family planning advocates joined Senator Olympia Snowe
(R-ME) and Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Nancy
Pelosi (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Chris Shays (R-CT) at a news conference calling
on Congress and President Clinton to reject "global gag rule" language in the
House version of the FY2001 Foreign Operations appropriations bill. Reuters reported that
Clinton has vowed "not to allow the [gag rule] policy to continue, and Democratic and
Republican backers said they will stay as long as it takes to make sure the language is
The Oct. 2 Christian Science Monitor
reported that "a Republican-led Congress and the White House are at odds again over a
provision...[that] denies U.S. family planning aid to foreign healthcare providers
involved with legal abortion services or engaged in political speech for or against
abortion." It noted that Rep. John Porter (R-IL) "parts from almost all of his
Republican colleagues" because he "cannot think of a more important issue for
life on this planet, nor a more important human right than to plan the number and spacing
of one's own children."
The Washington Times reported
Oct. 5 on the politics surrounding the GAO audit of adherence to the global gag rule
restrictions attached to last year's international family planning funds. The Times
reported on information from Senator Jesse Helms' (R-NC) office that "the IPPF and
eight other foreign family-planning groups had refused to comply with a congressional
mandate that AID grantees cease abortion activities as a condition of U.S. funding."
Several media outlets reported on China's
upcoming fifth national census, including the Oct. 14 New York Times,
Oct. 6 Washington Times and Oct. 15 South China Morning Post.
Stories also ran Oct. 13 on the Associated Press and Agence
France Presse. The New York Times reported "that the census will confirm
China as the world's most populous nation is beyond a doubt," but "with
questions about family size, number of children, education levels, and even whether
households share kitchens and bathrooms with other families, the census will provide a
raft of information for government planners."
In Russia, the population is "shrinking
at an unprecedented rate for an industrialized country, from 148 million three years ago
to slightly more than 145 million now," according to an Oct. 5 Associated
Press story. Agence France Presse also reported on the issue
Oct. 5, and noted Oct. 12 that Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky "has come up
with a solution to the alarming slide in Russia's population: ban abortions for 10 years
and get women to marry early."
By contrast, in Italy there are "signs of
an Italian population explosion" with the "birthrate ris[ing] 8%" in Milan
and other northern cities. The trend is being attributed to a better economy and "a
variety of measures to encourage couples to conceive" like "child care
facilities near busy employment centers...tax breaks for families...a generous maternity
and paternity program" and other national and local programs.
The Oct. 2 New York Times and
Oct. 1 Chicago Tribune reported on population trends highlighted in the
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of World Population 2000 report released
Sept. 20. The Times story focused on UNFPA's Nafis Sadik and international population
policy in "a new atmosphere of frankness" where "the United Nations itself
is now in new territory, supporting the concept that women should have the right to make
their own decisions about bearing children, and that they should have access to education
and health services, a range of family planning tools and, as a last resort, safe
abortions." The Chicago Tribune story noted that "some critics believe the
world's largest power should become more assertive in championing international women's
issues," but that "the U.S. has often been among those refusing to open its
wallet because of domestic political wrangling over abortion, a practice not even funded
by the international programs."
The Oct. 6 Associated Press
reported that "school nurses in France may soon be able to distribute a morning-after
contraception pill to young girls after lawmakers approved a government bill to make the
pill available in junior and senior high schools."
Agence France Presse reported
Oct. 15 that "India's most populous state [Uttar Pradesh] will offer condoms free of
charge with mail deliveries in a bid to stem a population boom."
INTERNATIONAL ABORTION TRENDS
An Oct. 4 Agence France Presse
story reported that in the Philippines, "women who take the abortion drug RU-486 and
other similar pills will be considered automatically excommunicated from the Catholic
church," according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The story
mislabeled RU-486 a "contraceptive pill," as did an Oct. 6 Deutsche
Press-Agentur story on the same subject.
In France, the Cabinet "introduced a bill
that would allow young women to have abortions without their parents' consent and also
extend the allowable limit for terminating a pregnancy, according to an Oct. 5 Associated
The Associated Press reported
Oct. 6 that "at least 80,000 women received abortions in Poland last year,"
according to the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning.
Media outlets across the country weighed in
supporting international family planning funding and opposing the global gag rule language
in the FY2001 federal budget.
The Oct. 3 New York Times
noted that "the House is again seeking, in its foreign aid bill, to impose a
pernicious 'gag rule' on international groups receiving aid for family planning
programs" and that "Clinton should veto any foreign aid package that contains
this provision." The Times also mentioned the fight over international family
planning funding in an Oct. 11 editorial that focused on "Congress's hostility to
The Oct. 10 Washington Post
called on Congress not to "complicate the [foreign aid] bill with unconnected and
egregious language" that "would be a violation of free-speech rights if it were
applied in the United States." The Houston Chronicle concurred in an
Oct. 14 editorial that stated it is "wrong to tie [a] gag rule to global family
planning funds" because "Americans should be promoting democracy around the
world, including free speech, the foundation of liberty." The Oct. 5 Sacramento
Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee also called the
gag rule restrictions "unconstitutional" if applied domestically.
The Boston Globe noted Oct.
10 that "the global gag rule is about more than just rhetoric" because it
"forces small health clinics and other organizations receiving U.S. aid to endure a
complicated certification process" and leads to a "new 'blacklist' of public
health organizations" that have decided not to comply.
The Anchorage Daily News
called on President Clinton Oct. 5 to "not yield to blackmail again" and
"resist any temptation to bargain away a position he rightfully took at the outset of
his tenure when he revoked the 'global gag rule' first invoked by President Reagan in
1984." Similarly, the Oct. 12 Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME) stated that "in a
world where unsafe abortions kills tens of thousands of women each year, a gag rule on
abortion is a harmful trap that has had, as its primary result, the delay of funding for
health care and family planning."
An Oct. 9 editorial in the Austin
American-Statesman noted that "withholding money for family planning
services is more than arrogant -- it's cruel," particularly "in the context of
"600,000 women around the world...[who] died last year from complications of
pregnancy or inadequate reproductive health care." The Oct. 8 Kansas City Star
noted that "the losers in this political fight last year were the poor women and
families in Third World countries who did not get U.S. aid."
The Oct. 6 Boca Raton News
(Boca Raton, FL) called on the President and Congress to fund international family
planning programs and get rid of the gag rule because "this country has an obligation
to share wealth and health-care expertise with those in this world with little or no
access, and even less hope."
Editorials supporting international family
planning funding and opposing the gag rule also appeared in the Oct. 13 Newsday
(Long Island, NY), Oct. 13 Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and the Oct. 12 Tennessean
The Oct. 13 Pioneer Press
(St. Paul, MN) printed an op-ed by CEDPA's Peggy Curlin that asks President Clinton to
veto any bill that includes the global gag rule because it denies citizens in foreign
countries "the right of free speech -- not by the edicts of their own country's
policy, but by U.S. policies."
Letters to the editor supporting international
family planning funding appeared in the Anchorage Daily News Oct. 14, Buffalo
News Oct. 7, Chicago Sun-Times Oct. 5, Denver Post
Oct. 12 and Seattle Times Oct. 7, many by Population Action
These are "interesting times to be
thinking about international population issues," according to an Oct. 9 op-ed by
former Population Council president Margaret Catley-Carlsen in the Dayton Daily
News. She noted that the United States was "unquestionably the global leader
in [population policy], until political change in the late 1990s shattered the bipartisan,
centrist coalition in Congress, which maintained decades long support for international
family planning programs."
The above analysis was written by Ketayoun
Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk at the Communications Consortium Media Center, 1200 New
York Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, 202/326-8700.
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