The EngenderHealth News Blog
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

House Bill Proposes Dramatic Cuts for Reproductive Health

The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations has approved a foreign assistance bill that proposes dramatic cuts to family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs. The legislation will govern funding for fiscal year 2012 (FY2012), which begins on October 1, 2011.

The full draft of the bill, published (PDF, 364KB) on the Appropriations Committee web site, reveals a number of measures that would harm the health and lives of millions of women and children around the world.
Below are a few notable provisions from the bill, compared with those in the final FY2011 Continuing Resolution passed in April. The draft bill:
  • Allots a maximum of $461 million for FP/RH activities in FY2012, compared with a total of $615 million in FY2011.
  • Reinstates the Global Gag Rule, prohibiting U.S. assistance to any foreign entity that “promotes or performs abortions.” The final FY2011 Continuing Resolution did not include this controversial policy.
  • Prohibits any U.S. contributions to UNFPA or any organization that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” The FY2011 budget appropriated $40 million in U.S. contributions to UNFPA, an international development agency dedicated to promoting reproductive health and rights.
In response to the bill, Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she would urge a veto of any bill that would impose new restrictions on aid to critical partners and countries. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, also issued a July 26 statement on the issue: “I am disappointed that the 2012 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act ... includes divisive and partisan policy riders that are counterproductive to effective diplomacy and development."

Lowey also recently introduced a bill to prevent the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which would prevent women and children from accessing critical health services such as family planning, obstetric care, HIV testing, and malaria treatment that have nothing to do with abortion.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rep. Lowey Introduces Bill to Prevent Global Gag Rule

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) has introduced a bill to prevent the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule (GGR). The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to reinstate the controversial policy during a markup last week of the fiscal year 2012 State authorization bill.

The Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R.2639), which has already garnered more than 100 sponsors in the U.S. House, would prohibit the U.S. government from imposing any funding restrictions on foreign organizations that would otherwise be unconstitutional for U.S. organizations. The bill would prevent overseas NGOs from being barred from U.S. aid, based on the services they provide.

To learn more about the devastating impacts of the GGR, watch our
90-second video.

House Committee Votes to Reinstate Global Gag Rule

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 21 voted (25-17) to reinstate the Global Gag Rule (GGR) in the fiscal year 2012 foreign aid bill.

The controversial policy prohibits international family planning organizations receiving U.S. aid from providing information, counseling, or referrals related to abortion—even if using their own non-U.S. funding and even if the practices are legal in their own countries. During the July 20-21 markup, the committee defeated an amendment by Ranking Member Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) to remove the Global Gag Rule from the bill.

If reinstated as a matter of law, the GGR would have terrible consequences for women and their families. While it was in effect between 2001 and 2009, the policy forced clinics to cut back on a range of critical health services that have nothing to do with abortion, such as family planning, obstetric care, HIV testing, and malaria treatment.
Watch our 90-second video to learn how the GGR negatively impacts the health and lives of women and children.

The GGR was first adopted in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan but has since been removed and reinstated several times. President Obama rescinded the policy when he took office in January 2009.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

EngenderHealth at 2011 IAS Conference (July 17–20)

EngenderHealth will participate in the 2011 International AIDS Society conference, the largest open scientific meeting on HIV and AIDS. Held in Rome from July 17 to 20, the conference will focus on HIV pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention and aims to convert theory into practice while building a body of evidence for successful HIV programming.

Jared Nyanchoka, EngenderHealth Technical Advisor, will present “Improving Male Circumcision Coverage Through Task Shifting to Non-Physician Clinicians.” Mark Barone, Senior Medical Associate, will presentSpontaneous Detachment of the Shang Ring following Adult Male Circumcision.”

Other conference papers by EngenderHealth address the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and the role of men in reproductive and child health, based on our experience in Tanzania:
  • The role of male involvement in improving reproductive and child health: Lessons from Iringa, Tanzania
  • Intensified counseling and support on treatment adherence and infant feeding options improves clients' health practices in PMTCT Services: Experience from Iringa, Tanzania
  • The efficacy of triple antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy and breastfeeding for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1: Hospital setting experience from Tanzania
Read more about EngenderHealth's work to support male circumcision service delivery, expand PMTCT services, and expand men's roles in improving reproductive health.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Expanding Choice for Young Couples in Bangladesh

By October this year, the world's population is projected to reach 7 billion, making access to family planning more urgent than ever. In Bangladesh, for example, 1.2 million young couples get married every year, creating a pressing demand for contraceptive services. EngenderHealth's work there has helped new couples access the full range of reproductive health services they need to plan their families and their lives.

Read how our efforts have affected the lives of one young couple, Sathi and Saydur, providing them the opportunity to save money and enjoy their marriage while focusing on completing their education.