LATIN AMERICAHow the fraudulent attacks on Planned Parenthood are hurting family planning providers across Latin America22 August 2015https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/how-the-disingenuous-attacks-on-planned-parenthood-hurt-women-around-the-globeEver since an organization so-called the Center for Medical Progress published videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood Federation of American executives profiting off the sale of fetal parts (a claim that’s been roundly disproved), conservatives in the US have been feverishly attempting to defund the organization on both federal and state levels. Something similar is happening across the Americas region, as anti-abortion and anti-contraception groups based in Latin America use the controversy as an excuse to attack national family planning organizations who are members of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.”People are saying, ‘Look, Profamilia is receiving money from an organization that is profiting from the sale of fetal tissue!'” (The International Planned Parenthood Federation, IPPF, is different from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, PPFA – the former is a global umbrella network of organizations around the world and the latter is one of its affiliates – but it seems that opponents of family planning aren’t too worried about the distinction.)”There are online campaigns against [our partner organizations], with signatures asking the government to do investigations into them,” said Dr. Carmen Barroso, executive director of IPPF Western Hemisphere Region. “A couple of governments have accepted this pressure and have requested our associations to provide documents…” According to Dr. Barroso, anti-abortion activists in Latin American countries are “playing from the same book” as anti-choice groups in the US.In a statement, Susana Chavez, director of Peru-based reproductive health NGO Promsex, agreed with this characterization. “In Peru, as well as in other countries in the region, anti-abortion extremists such as the Population Research Institute… have used the fraudulent attack on Planned Parenthood in the US as an excuse to attack organizations like mine promoting access to safe and legal abortion across Latin America,” she wrote. “As in the US, these extremists are joined in their anti-woman agenda by conservative, right-wing congressmen.””These congressmen have been pressuring the Peruvian government agency that oversees international funding to launch investigations into NGOs like Promsex, making false claims of corruption,” said Chavez. According to a representative from IPPF, the Peruvian international cooperation agency is now “conducting an inquiry into our member association, demanding documentation from our local partner regarding some of their programs.”
ProFamilia, El Salvador
In Uruguay, a government official recentlycalled on the Ministry of Health to investigate links between IPPF and their local partner. In El Salvador, anti-abortion activists havecalled for a formal investigation into Profamilia. In Mexico, where abortion is only legal in the capital city, anti-abortion activists protested outside of a MexFam clinic, demanding that the Ministry of Health perform a “thorough, serious, and speedy” investigation into the organization, alleging [without evidence] that MexFam in Mexico might be engaging in practices that constitute a crime.
Victoria Health Minister Jill Hennessey says Labor will support Patten’s bill. ABC News: Alison Savage
At the time the Victoria Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, said the government was reviewing Patten’s bill and would carefully consider it but when the Court ruling was announced, Hennessy said a government bill would be introduced before the end of the year, taking into account Patten’s bill and making sure it was legally robust and enforceable. “Legislation like this often is the subject of legal challenge,” she said. “We need to get penalties commensurate to other public nuisance offences.”The bill would give Victoria’s police the power to stop protesters harassing women. For example, some women are being filmed without their consent outside of clinics.The proposed 150m zone was based on the Tasmanian model.The Greens have indicated they will vote for it, and the Liberals will have a free vote, meaning the bill will pass.
PAKISTANWomen with disabilities attend an SRHR workshop in Lahore, Pakistan3 September 2015http://asap-asia.org/blog/#sthash.aPyWwt1t.jI0WsOoE.dpufThe National Forum for Women with Disabilities (NFFWDs) and Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) partnered to initiate and launch a project that will not just educate women with disabilities about safe abortion, reproductive rights and a healthy sex life, but will train them to become peer educators for the disabled and non-disabled women in their community.
ALRANZ (Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand) organised a protest on 2 June 2015 outside the High Court in Wellington to coincide with the date of Right to Life’s hearing in its legal effort to shut down Family Planning’s early medical abortion service in Tauranga. (See our May Newsletter for more info on the case.) Around 100 people turned out for the protest, which moved onto the grounds of Parliament where speakers included Terry Bellamak of ALRANZ and Rebecca Matthews of Mothers for Choice. News reports included coverage by Newsroom, TVNZ, and the Militant… Matthews challenged MPs to update abortion laws, saying through their inaction they had passed on too much power to a small group of anti-choice fanatics, who “are being allowed to have an influence way out of proportion to their numbers. Through the courts, they attempt to deny us the best and safest health services we need and deserve”. As this issue of the Newsletter went to press, ALRANZ were still awaiting a judgment in the case.
GUATEMALARape, ignorance, repression: why early pregnancy is endemic in Guatemala26 August 2015http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/aug/26/guatemala-rape-early-pregnancy-sex-education-catholic-churchLast year, 5,100 girls under 15 became pregnant in Guatemala. According to statistics of the Observatorio de Salud Reproductiva (OSAR, Center for Reproductive Health), from January to November 2014 a total of 71 thousand pregnancies were reported in girls and young women aged 10-19 years, of whom 5,119 were below age 14 years. Mirna Montenegro of OSAR explained that pregnancy in a girl under 14 years is classified as a sexual violation and many times happens in their own home.Between 2010 and 2012, the number of 10-15-year-olds who gave birth increased by almost 25%. According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Latin America and the Caribbean are the only regions in the world where births to girls under 15 are on the rise. The agency predicts the increase will continue. Cultural practices, endemic violence and the hold of the Catholic church over decisions on reproductive health make girls in Guatemala easy prey for abuse and vulnerable to early pregnancy.
Girl with small baby tries to play with her friends. Photograph: Linda Forsell
THAILANDConsultation on draft Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Bill in ThailandAPA UPDATE No.8 August 2015A consultation on the proposed draft Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Alleviation Bill in Thailand was held on 18 August, organized by the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), UNFPA Thailand, and the National Legislative Assembly. Over 40 participants including civil society gave input to improve the draft bill, which aims to respond to, and help curb, the high incidence of teenage pregnancy in Thailand.
Illegal abortion posters on the streets of Pinetown
Street-pole posters are some of the cheap marketing and advertising strategies used by illegal abortion clinics and Pinetown as well as Upper Highway streets have become their targets. Posters advertising “Cheap Abortion, One Day, No Pain” are becoming the order of the day and with the increase in teenage pregnancy these clinics offer cheap and unsafe ways of terminating an unwanted baby.Communications and marketing head of Marie Stopes South Africa, Andrea Thompson said: “These illegal abortion providers target disadvantaged, vulnerable women and put their lives at risk by working outside all laws governing the provision of abortion.”The Fever reporter contacted one of the clinics to find out how it operates and a clinic staff member, who did not want to be identified, said: “We can do the job in one day by giving you liquid medication for you to drink which will terminate the baby. You can either drink it at the clinic or at home, but make sure you are alone in the room for the whole day,” she said. “It makes the job difficult for us when you are four months pregnant so that’s why we charge a higher price and we have male and female doctors so you can choose who you want.”Marie Stopes South Africa sees the consequences of illegal abortions in their clinics every day and run educational programmes and outreach projects to educate women on their rights to access safe and legal termination of pregnancy, and family planning services.
KYRGYZSTANKyrgyz law on reproductive rights signed in July18 August 2015President Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan signed the Law on Reproductive Rights and Guarantees of its Realization of Citizens of Kyrgyz Republic on July 4, 2015. The signing of the bill was six years in the making. It was initially adopted by the parliament in May 2015, two months before the President’s official approval.”It was very important to determine what priorities should be reflected in this bill,” explained Hon. Nadira Narmatova, one of the initiators of bill. “Protection of children and adolescent health must remain a priority,” she adds.According to Hon. Narmatova, the youngest mother in Kyrgyzstan is as young as 13 years old. The number of births among girls aged 15-17 years has been increasing in the country. She mentioned that official data reports that teenage girls have 1,200 abortionsannually. “Our society must finally recognize Kyrgyz youth’s sexual and reproductive health problems, show respect, and find ways to address them.”
The recently signed law recognizes sexual and reproductive rights of citizens an integral part of human rights. The law aims to guarantee protection and promotion of these rights. The adoption of the bill addresses the issues of the right to equality and freedom from all forms of discrimination, including the right of citizens to education and information.The bill faced heated debates. Opponents appealed to “traditional” and “Islamic norms” objecting to sexual and reproductive health education and modern reproductive technologies. A year ago the bill was close to failure and its’ proponents and supporters decided to postpone the most critical hearings. The support for the bill grew stronger in April 2015, resulting in 75 out of 120 Kyrgyz parliamentarians voting for the bill in May. Supporters argued that the legislation will contribute to a decrease in the teenage pregnancy rate.Civil society representatives welcomed the adoption of the new law as a confirmation of the State’s commitment to reproductive health. However, they are concerned that other legislative initiatives will cause restrictions on sexual rights and human rights, referring to pending legislative proposals on ‘foreign agents’ and ‘homosexual propaganda’.Despite the remaining challenges, Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development congratulates all devoted MPs, civil society organisations’ activities, health care experts and, in particular, UNFPA Kyrgyzstan, who supported revision and adoption of the bill.
VIET NAMVietnamese woman found dead after self-induced second trimester abortion: self-induced late abortion in apparently very poor conditions16 August 2015http://www.thanhniennews.com/health/vietnamese-found-dead-after-selfinduced-abortion-50176.htmlA 28-year-old woman was found dead in a bathroom in central Viet Nam and initial investigation suggested that she died from excessive bleeding after ending her pregnancy. People sharing the range of rent rooms with the woman in Binh Thuan Province found her body in their shared bathroom in the morning and the body of a five-month fetus in the toilet tub, both covered in blood.The woman from Binh Thuan’s Bac Binh District was said to have worked in a café in Phan Thiet. She was single and lived in her room alone but there was “a young man coming once in a while”. Almost no one knew she was pregnant. Police are investigating further and have ordered forensic tests.
PERUPro-choice protesters clash with police in Peru13 August 2015https://www.rt.com/in-motion/312390-peru-abortion-protesters-clashes/Police deployed water cannon and tear gas against a group of 1,000 pro-abortion-rights protesters in Lima, Peru, on 12 August. Led by the Dejala Decidir (Let Her Decide) movement, the demonstrators called for abortion on grounds of rape to be legalised. Abortion is illegal in Peru even in cases of rape, with the only exception being danger to the woman’s life. The unrest began when the protest strayed from the agreed route to march to the Congress building and block busy roads.