International Women’s Day 2007

– The following is the text of an E-mail I received from the Population Connection folks today. Women’s rights are an important issue and this speaks volumes about women’s rights vs. fundamentalist religion.

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On this International Women’s Day, the Global Gag Rule is exacerbating one of the gravest threats to women’s health around the world.

This harmful policy, imposed by George Bush on his first full day in the White House, is denying family planning aid to women’s health care providers in the poorest countries in the world. It demands that health care providers refuse to use their own money – and money from other governments, including their own – to: provide safe, legal abortions; offer counseling and referral services for safe, legal abortion, and; support safe, legal abortion as a matter of public policy in their own countries.

The impact of the Global Gag Rule has been dramatic. Clinics have closed. Health care staff have been let go. Outreach to rural women has been cut back. Contraceptive supplies have dried up. The Global Gag Rule would be unconstitutional if imposed on American organizations, it’s unconscionable to impose it on organizations serving the most vulnerable women in the world.

It’s time for Congress to overturn this damaging policy. Please take just a moment today, in the spirit of International Women’s Day, to call your representative in the U.S. House and ask them to support the Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R. 619), a bill to repeal the Global Gag Rule.

Follow this link if you want to take action:

Here are some points to consider:

The global gag rule interferes with the doctor/patient relationship. The policy imposed by President Bush bars overseas family planning providers from using their own money to even provide information to patients about the availability of safe, legal abortion in their own countries. Those agencies that don’t offer abortions are prohibited from counseling women about the procedure as an option and from referring women to a place that does provide it. Far from making the incidence of abortion more rare, it will make unsafe abortion even more widespread.

The global gag rule undermines reproductive health care worldwide. Family planning providers are facing a cruel choice: give up desperately needed funding or sacrifice their responsibilities to their patients and their rights to participate in the democratic process. Either choice will hurt the poorest women in the world. On the one hand, sacrificing the funding will deny women the access to services they have come to rely upon. On the other, giving up the ability to provide full and accurate information and the right to participate in policy debates means that unsafe abortion will go unaddressed – even in countries in which abortion is legal – and women will be denied possible lifesaving information.

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