Reproductive Health

Reproductive health problems remain a leading cause of illness and death for women, particularly in developing countries. A leading cause of maternal death is lack of access to health services and prenatal care. Health begins with accurate and comprehensive sex education during adolescence – education that needs to continue throughout adulthood. Researchers in our network are currently working to disseminate evidence-based information and increase access to the full range of reproductive health services so that women can lead healthy and productive lives. Studies have demonstrated the advantages of comprehensive sex education compared with abstinence-only or other programs in preventing teen pregnancy, raising the age of initial sexual activity and lowering rates of sexually transmitted disease. More effort is needed to address the health needs of marginalized populations, particularly immigrant women, who are less likely to seek pre-natal and preventive screenings and care.

Did You Know? Health and Reproductive Rights Edition

May 20, 2009 posted by admin

Did you know that…

“In 2002, only 62% of sexually experienced female teens had received instruction about contraception before they first had sex, compared with 72% in 1995.” (from the Guttmacher Institute 

Or...

That over 23% of Latinas do not receive prenatal care in their first trimester? (from the National Latina Institute for Reprodutive Health)

How about…


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FAST FACT: Motherhood by the Numbers

May 7, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird In honor of Mother’s Day, the Census Bureau released a handy-dandy fact sheet on motherhood.  Here are some of the stats they compiled:


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New Film—Not Yet Rain—Tells the Stories of Women Who Have Sought Abortion Care

March 11, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird Yesterday, the fantastic international reproductive rights organization, IPAS contacted the Council, announcing the launch of an important new film: Not Yet Rain.  Here’s the scoop:


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: The Bitter with the Sweet

February 25, 2009 posted by admin Overall, the economic stimulus plan that Congress passed and President Obama signed is a strong package.  We fervently hope it will provide the help that struggling families urgently need, and begin putting the nation on the road to lasting economy recovery.  We’ve never needed that more. There were victories, large and small, for those of us working for equal opportunity, 21st Century benefits, and quality, affordable health care.  The relief for working families and the expansion of unemployment benefits are significant, as is the lower threshold for the child tax credit and increased funding for child care. Not as well known, but extremely important, is the health information technology (HIT) provisions that we fought to maintain.  They withstood an attack from pharmaceutical manufacturers, health plans and drug store chains intent on putting profits ahead of privacy.  With protections against inappropriate disclosures of health information, electronic medical records can do a tremendous amount to reduce medical errors, coordinate and streamline care, and reduce costs.  This was a real step forward.


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THE GLOBAL TRACK: India--Land of Malls and Ragpickers

February 11, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar

 
 

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="298" caption="Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury"]Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury[/caption]

I was recently in Calcutta, India, my place of birth, home to where my mother, a sibling, old friends, and sweet memories still reside. This is my other “home” where I try to get to every year to renew and regenerate myself, and recharge from the stresses of a running a two working parents’ nuclear household in frenetic New York City. My trip last month came after a two year gap; I felt the familiar overwhelming desire to be there, to be a part of the sights and sounds of an India that were at once familiar and yet distant to me. Having left almost 23 years ago to move to the US, I have a unique insider-outsider vantage point. I was born and brought up there; I know things instinctively – all the cultural puzzles, contradictions, nuances of language, wordplay and verbal cues, body language, subtle things - that only a native-born can ever know. But, having been away long enough, and trained in and working in a field where critical inquiry is required, I can no longer accept without questioning the status and daily conditions of millions of people living in absolute poverty, what Collier refers to as The Bottom Billion. Even as India’s economy grows steadily at about 8% a year, there are entire communities of people, some 300 million of them, who live under a $1 a day without regular access to food, water, housing, livelihoods, reproductive healthcare or education. Malnutrition in children under five is at a staggering 45%.

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GIRLS FORUM: Navigating Girlhood to Womanhood from New Moon’s Nancy Gruver

February 5, 2009 posted by admin We asked activists and scholars in the girl’s rights movement to draft a letter to President Obama, outlining their Girls Agenda for 2009.  Here’s what Nancy Gruver, founder and CEO of New Moon Magazine had to say: Dear President Obama: As Malia and Sasha’s proud father I don’t need to tell you how having daughters can give you new eyes on the world.  My daughters, Mavis and Nia, are adults now.  But it feels like just last week that they were ten years old and I was worrying about how to help them navigate the treacherous journey from girlhood to womanhood.  We started New Moon Girls magazine together to give girls a place to express themselves and make the world better. I believe you agree that growing up should mean increasing opportunities as well as responsibilities for our daughters.  It should mean increasing respect and rewards for their intelligence, creativity, and skills.  It should mean they have access to equal education and healthcare, including effective pregnancy prevention.  It should mean they have the freedom to walk down the street or go on a date without worrying they might be attacked just because they are female.


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Quick Links on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

January 22, 2009 posted by admin [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="165" caption="2004 March for Women's Lives in DC (photo via NOW)"][/caption] Today marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  As we look back to commemorate this historic court decision, we must also look forward to renewing, restoring, and securing reproductive and sexual health for all women.  Gloria Feldt recently reminded us of the importance of recognizing reproductive rights as human rights.  In order to restore reproductive rights, Caryl Rivers at Women’s eNews urges us to start now.


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NEW YEAR'S FORUM: Elizabeth Holtzman Demands We Not Forget About Women

January 9, 2009 posted by admin New years, new administrations, change itself generally elicits a feeling of optimism in me--and I can’t repress that sense now.  Here are my hopes and concerns. I feel glad to see President Bush and his team go: they wreaked such damage on our country and the world--and undermined our deepest values by riding roughshod over the constitution, thumbing their nose at the rule of law and torturing people.  I hope that the country will take proper steps to hold them accountable for their actions even after they are out of office.  The past Administration was also hostile to women, particularly to our right to birth control and choice, treating us as though we were children incapable of making critical decisions for our lives.  Relieved that is over, but am still troubled by the efforts of too many to continue to control what in the end are deeply personal decisions for women, decisions that define our humanity. I hope that these efforts diminish in the years ahead. Americans face a ruined economy, and I am deeply afraid that women and children will be the biggest victims.  With the safety net of welfare gone, what will happen to the poorest of the poor?  Welfare was a concept that President Roosevelt adopted as one way to deal with the devastation of the Great Depression; while deeply flawed, it still reflected a national commitment to poor women and their children.  I hope that in these dire economic times we don’t lose sight of the needs of this vulnerable group.


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NEW YEAR'S FORUM: A Conversation with Kavita

January 6, 2009 posted by  Linda Basch As we start off with our New Year’s Resolutions for the nation, I begin with an inspiring conversation I recently had with Kavita Ramdas, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women. We were musing about the future, particularly with regard to women’s human rights at this optimistic moment for the country, with a new administration about to take charge in Washington. But as Kavita pointed out, as we begin to look forward, we also need to be self reflective as a nation. We need to develop a sense of collective responsibility. A number of problems have grown up over the past several years that we can’t sweep away, that we must address as a country and hold ourselves accountable for. I couldn’t agree more. I love conversations that are as wide-ranging as this one was.  We covered a lot of ground.  Some highlights:  As someone who works on global women's rights, Kavita hopes that the new administration will place a high priority on advancing women's rights worldwide. This can only be achieved by the US decreasing its emphasis on militarism and violence as the primary means to resolve conflict and re-focusing its efforts away from the so called "war on terror" towards efforts to eradicate global poverty, inequality, and injustice. Yet, she insisted, that much of the US's ability to achieve such results globally will depend on the choices it makes inside its own borders. So, I asked Kavita what she would like to see in terms of change right here at home….


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Abortion Rights are Human Rights

December 19, 2008 posted by Linda Basch Gloria Feldt recently reviewed the book Our Bodies, Our Crimes for the journal Democracy.  Her article, however, is much more than a book review.  It is an historical overview of the reproductive rights movement, an analysis of current political trends, and, most of all, a call to action. Needless to say, we had to share!  Criticizing current pop culture depictions of unplanned pregnancies, Feldt writes, “if the realities of abortion are often overlooked, its potency as a political weapon for the Right remains strong.”  This election season, two states voted on ballot initiatives that would have limited women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care.  In Colorado, Amendment 48 would have granted full legal rights to fetuses and South Dakota once again faced an outright ban on abortion services.  Even though both initiatives were soundly defeated, Feldt states, “Like water on porous stone, the Right has slowly eroded the vulnerable legal protections of Griswold and Roe.” Feldt continues,


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