Roundup: New Members of the Faith-Based Initiatives Council Announced

Emily Douglas

New members of Office of Faith-Based Initiatives announced; breakthrough for male contraceptive; anti-choice perspective on Commission on Population and Development; China's restrictive family planning policies result in a black market in boys; Kristof on family planning.

New Members of Office of Faith-Based Initiatives Announced

Religion Dispatches, Frances Kissling takes a look at some new nominees to the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives.  One is pro-gay and, we hope, pro-choice; the other is not:


Two new nominees have stepped forward and confirmed that they have
been asked to join the Council. The first, Harry Knox of the Human
Rights Campaign’s faith based program (and an RD advisory council
member), is a good choice. His voice will be critical in ensuring that
religious groups that receive government funds not receive exemptions
from anti-discrimination laws. And I certainly hope that Harry is
equally active in protecting a woman’s right to choose and
non-discrimination against women on the grounds of their sexual and
reproductive lives. We do not need single issue advocates on this
Council that is so stacked against progressive religious thought.

other candidate is very disturbing and should be rejected. Tony Dungy,
former NFL coach and staunch opponent of gay marriage. In endorsing an
Indiana measure to ban same sex marriage, Dungy noted he was promoting
“family values—family values the Lord’s way.

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Breakthrough for Male Contraceptive
Marie Claire UK reports on a scientific breakthrough that may lead to effective male contraception: "A contraceptive pill for men might one day be possible
following the discovery of a genetic fault that leads to male
infertility, scientists said. The faulty gene affects the movement of sperm and means they cannot penetrate the membrane of an egg in order to fertilise it."

The Anti-Choice View on the Commission on Population and Development
reported on the Commission on Population and Development negotiations,
but do you want to know how the anti-choice movement saw the conference?  Visit

Margaret J. Pollack spoke on behalf of the United
States at CPD, making a statement declaring U.S. commitment to ICPD
goals: “most particularly universal access to sexual and reproductive
health and the protection and promotion of reproductive rights.” The
statement also applauded President Obama’s rescinding of the Mexico
City policy (a Bush policy that refused funding to international groups
that promote abortion), and the decision to give $50 million to the
United Nations Population Fund. 

Other countries, however, made pro-life
statements. On Wednesday, Malta’s delegation reiterated its stance that
no position or recommendation should “create an obligation on any party
to consider abortion as a legitimate form of family planning,
reproductive health rights, services or commodities.” It added that the
phrase “abortion should be safe” can lend itself to the interpretation
“that abortion can be completely free of medical and other
psychological risks, while ignoring altogether the rights of the

China’s Restrictive Family Planning Policies Result in Black Market in Boys

China’s restrictive family planning policies are resulting in the kidnapping of young boys, the New York Times reports: "The demand is especially strong in rural areas of south China, where a
tradition of favoring boys over girls and the country’s strict family
planning policies have turned the sale of stolen children into a
thriving business…The centuries-old tradition of cherishing boys — and a custom that
dictates that a married woman moves in with her husband’s family — is
reinforced by a modern reality: Without a real social safety net in
China, many parents fear they will be left to fend for themselves in
old age."

Lost Ground on International Family Planning

In an op-ed column and a blog post,
Nicholas Kristof looks at challenges to promoting family planning
abroad — and the serious gaps in care and counseling that face women
who do desire a smaller family.  The "unmet need for contraceptives" can simply be solved by providing any contraceptive to women in the developing world without counseling, education, or other advancement in their rights and health, Kristof writes. 

Nahomie’s story helps explain the enigma. She tried injectables, but
she says they caused excess bleeding that frightened her. The clinic
had little counseling to explain and reassure her, so she stopped after
nine months.

A sexually transmitted infection at the time meant
that she couldn’t use an IUD just then, and a doctor told her that the
pill would be inappropriate because she has vascular problems.
Reluctant to return to a clinic that seemed scornful of poor women, she
drifted along with nothing.


In his blog, Kristof meditates further on the challenges:

In the West, women were eager for contraceptives when they arrived on
the market, and once they were available, they were used. It’s much
more complicated in the developing world, where women have less
autonomy and many women desire large numbers of children — or at least
are ambivalent in a way that doesn’t always come through in the
fertility surveys. We sometimes imagine that family planning promotion
is a matter of handing out condoms or inserting IUD’s, and in fact it’s
so much more than that. It’s a comprehensive policy of counselling
women, offering a range of options, providing them some respect and
dignity and follow-up, and raising their status more generally. That’s
why girls’ education is so fundamental, for nothing has a more powerful
effect on a girl’s trajectory than going to school.

Other News to Note

April 2: Heritage Foundation Blog: Removing Conscience Rights: A Dangerous Prescription in Health Care

April 3: WKOW: STD awareness campaign

April 4: World Magazine: Population debate: The UN Commission on Population and Development grappled this week over abortion language and declining populations

April 4: Chicago Tribune Blog: With all due respect, Cardinal

April 4: Times Online UK: Vasectomies and abortions on the rise as economic meltdown hits US families

April 4: Emax Health: Minorities Hit Hard By Infectious Disease

April 3: Right Wing Watch: Fresh Off White House Call, Wright Decries
"Abortion Holocaust"

April 3: AP: Anti-abortion bill passes House

April 3: Radio Kenai: House Approves Parental Consent Bill for Teenage Abortions

April 3: KFYR: Abortion Bill Defeated

April 3: Chicago Breaking News Center: Anti-abortion protesters allege hate crimes

April 3: Jezebel: Oklahoma Fetus-Defense Bill Does Not Make Abortion Less Legal

April 3: C-FAM Press Release: Breaking News: UN Commission Ends with Delegations Saying No to Abortion

April 4: Science Blogs: Catholics Accept Abortion and Stem Cell Research

April 4: Kansas Liberty Journal: Legislature tries again for late-term abortion law reform

April 5: Great Falls Tribune: Abortion, homosexuality becoming heated battlegrounds in legislative ‘culture war’

April 2: International Consortium of Medical Abortion: Massey University Study on Abortion Flawed

April 5: Chicago Tribune: IU professor’s friends await Senate confirmation

April 5: The Hill: Anti-abortion groups decry GOP silence on Sebelius

April 5: WaPo: Birth-Control Pill Lands Fairfax Girl 2-Week Suspension

April 5: Philadelphia Inquirer: Diocese in Pa. warns colleges on birth control

April 5: Detroit Free Press: Fertility and age: What women should know

April 2: World Net Daily: Mental health screening targets moms-to-be: Questionnaire will be used to determine ‘depression’ in patients

April: The Voice Magazine: Georgia Passes Nation’s First Embryo Adoption Law

April 3: Life News: Illinois Version of Radical, Pro-Abortion Freedom of Choice Act Defeated

April 3: Examiner: NARAL Pro-Choice America to launch Three-for-Three campaign to confirm key Obama nominees

April 3: Daily Gotham: Eight council members (all men) voted against NYC’s Clinic Access Bill

April 5: Philadelphia Inquirer: The American Debate: Catholic hierarchy finds the flock isn’t so easily led: For many, the economy,
not "values," is central now. And the Catholic left is gaining its

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