Roundup: Huge Unmet Need for Contraception in Uganda, Highest in Africa

Jodi Jacobson

Uganda experiences the highest unmet need for contraception in sub-Saharan Africa; a judge dismisses Christian adoption agency challenge of stem-cell research process; ACLU responds to criticism of Kentucky Courier-Journal editorial

Huge Unmet Need for Contraception in Uganda

Uganda has the highest rate of unmet need for contraception in Africa, reports the Guardian UK, denying women the ability to avoid unintended pregnancy and to choose the number and timing of children they bear.

"Limited access to family planning services, fears about side
effects, opposition from partners and religious beliefs have led to
Uganda having the highest unmet need for contraception in east Africa," says the Guardian. Research indicates that this unmet need for family planning is
highest among illiterate women such as the HIV-positive mother of seven children who would like to avoid getting pregnant again.

According to Dr Moses Muwonge, the national reproductive health

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

commodity security coordinator at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, 41% of
women in Uganda have an unmet need for contraception. Rates in
neighbouring countries Kenya and Tanzania stand at 25% and 22%
respectively. Rwanda has a rate 38%, while Ethiopia’s is 34%.

Rates
keep increasing, but Muwonge says the ministry has not got enough
resources to tackle the problem. The government will need up to US$25m
to adequately meet the contraception needs of its population by 2015,
he added.

"Uganda’s contribution towards funding family planning
is negligible. It is less than 5%. Unless donors increase funding, it
might not be easy for the country to meet the unmet needs," Muwonge
warned at a health workshop for journalists in Kampala last month,
organised by the Uganda Health Communication Alliance (UHCA), with funding from the US-based Population Reference Bureau.

Judge Dismisses Challenge To Changes in Stem-Cell Research Guidelines

A judge on Tuesday dismissed a Christian adoption agency’s
challenge to Obama administration regulations expanding stem cell
research, reports the Associated Press.

The case arose from a decision by President Barack
Obama to lift restraints on stem-cell research that were put in place
by President George W. Bush.

Nightlight Christian Adoptions
contended in a lawsuit that the government’s new guidelines will
decrease the number of human embryos available for adoption. U.S.
District Judge Royce Lamberth called that assertion speculative.
Donors, the judge said, still may choose to continue to store the
embryos or give them to an adoption agency rather than donate them for
research.

ACLU Kentucky responds to criticism of Courier-Journal Editorial

Criticisms of an editorial that appeared October 18th, 2009 in the Kentucky Courier-Journal supporting the recommendations of the recently released Guttmacher Institute report on global abortion trends prompted a response in defense of the editorial from the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project in Louisville.

The Guttmacher study examined data on abortion trends worldwide, including the high rate of abortion and deaths among women from unsafe abortion.  The original Courier-Journal editorial supported the Guttmacher recommendations of ensuring greater access to family planning services and contraceptive supplies to reduce unintended pregnancies, ensuring access to safe, legal abortion services, and ensuring access to post-abortion care.  These steps, taken simultaneously, would reduce unintended pregnancies and hence the need for abortion, while also reducing deaths and illness among women from unsafe abortion.

Responding to criticisms of the Courier-Journal’s endorsement of these recommendations, Derek Selznick of the Louisville ACLU wrote:

[R]egardless of where we land on the political
spectrum, each of us has strong feelings about abortion. One thing we
can all agree on is that when 70,000 women die and 8 million women
suffer medical complications from unsafe abortions, something is wrong
The C-J agreed that the Guttmacher Institute’s three recommendations are common sense solutions to this problem.
All
three of these recommendations make sense and focus on what we should
do, which is make abortion less necessary, not more dangerous and
difficult. Now that is something we all should agree on. 

 

October 28th, 2009

Huge unmet need for contraceptives in Uganda Guardian

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging stem cell rule The Associated Press

Tiny town’s big voice for adoptions Cincinnati.com
City proposal targets pregnancy clinics that lack abortion services Baltimore Sun
Texas’ Catholic bishops want additional provisions in healthcare bill Fort Worth Star Telegram
Colombian high court rules Catholic hospitals must provide abortions Catholic Cultur

October 27th, 2009
Abortion: less necessary, less dangerous Louisville Courier-Journal

Michigan Democrat Leads Effort to Strip Abortion Exemption From Health Care Bill FOXNews

Winnipeg pro-choice and pro-life supporters demonstrate side by side Manitoban
Rally for Choice at Oklahoma State Capitol Feminists for Choice
Loyola Students for Life respond Loyola Phoenix
Unmarried and Uninsured Center For American Progress

Crunch Time on Health Care America Magazine

Climate change is a feminist issue Guardian
Anglican Priests and Contraception National Catholic Reporter
Abstinence-only education not right for Wisconsin schools Examiner.com
Corzine Left Vacuum In Family-Life Data Cape May County Herald
What Will ebay Do? Anti-Abortion Auction Slated CBS News

Abortion foes’ sick plan in Kansas murder case Midwest Voices
The Obama Abortion Games Canada Free Press
Catholic officials protest court ruling to teach about abortion rights The Pilot
Nun Is an Abortion Escort National Catholic Register
Law and Order’s Shameful Abortion Episode Feminist Law Professors
Abortion foe urges ‘Burn in Hell’ protest The Associated Press
Accused shooter of abortion foe found competent The Associated Press
Man who beat teen to cause abortion gets up to 5 years in prison Salt Lake Tribune
Michigan Anti-abortion Personhood Initiative Introduced Ms. Magazine

Anti-abortion Democrat Bart Stupak has a problem with Obama’s health reforms Los Angeles Times
Abortion opponents sue Milwaukee, police over treatment at protests Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Killing Tiller was far from a noble act Kansas City Star
What if the Kennedy Legacy Had Been Pro-Life? Southern Appeal

Is obamacare Pro-Life? Wall Street Journal

Teen Parents a More Diverse Group Than Most Believe Reuters
Pregnant covergirl of Teen Vogue raises eyebrows The Associated Press


 

 

 

 

 

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: The Fight Over Voter ID Laws Heats Up in the Courts

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Texas and North Carolina both have cases that could bring the constitutionality of Voter ID laws back before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this term.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the state’s voter ID law.

Meanwhile, according to Politifact, North Carolina attorney general and gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper is actually saving taxpayers money by refusing to appeal the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on the state’s voter ID law, so Gov. Pat McCrory (R) should stop complaining about it.

And in other North Carolina news, Ian Millhiser writes that the state has hired high-powered conservative attorney Paul Clement to defend its indefensible voter ID law.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Alex Thompson writes in Vice that the Zika virus is about to hit states with the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. So if you’re pregnant, stay away. No one has yet offered advice for those pregnant people who can’t leave Zika-prone areas.

Robin Marty writes on Care2 about Americans United for Life’s (AUL) latest Mad Lib-style model bill, the “National Abortion Data Reporting Law.” Attacking abortion rights: It’s what AUL does.

The Washington Post profiled Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given this Congress, that will likely spur another round of hearings. (It did get a response from Richards herself.)

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson writes in Bloomberg BNA that Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan thinks the Supreme Court’s clarification of the undue burden standard in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have ramifications for voting rights cases.

This must-read New York Times piece reminds us that we still have a long way to go in accommodating breastfeeding parents on the job.

Culture & Conversation Media

Filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos Centers Abortion Stories in New Documentary

Renee Bracey Sherman

The film arrives at a time when personal stories are center stage in the national conversation about abortion, including in the most recent Supreme Court decision, and rightly so. The people who actually have and provide abortions should be driving the narrative, not misinformation and political rhetoric.

This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

A new film by producer and director Tracy Droz Tragos, Abortion: Stories Women Tell, profiles several Missouri residents who are forced to drive across the Mississippi River into Illinois for abortion care.

The 93-minute film features interviews with over 20 women who have had or are having abortions, most of whom are Missouri residents traveling to the Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois, which is located about 15 minutes from downtown St. Louis.

Like Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, Missouri has only one abortion clinic in the entire state.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

The women share their experiences, painting a more nuanced picture that shows why one in three women of reproductive age often seek abortion care in the United States.

The film arrives at a time when personal stories are center stage in the national conversation about abortion, including in the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, and rightly so. The people who actually have and provide abortions should be driving the narrative, not misinformation and political rhetoric. But while I commend recent efforts by filmmakers like Droz Tragos and others to center abortion stories in their projects, these creators still have far to go when it comes to presenting a truly diverse cadre of storytellers if they really want to shift the conversation around abortion and break down reproductive stigma.

In the wake of Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law, which was at the heart of the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Supreme Court case, Droz Tragos, a Missouri native, said in a press statement she felt compelled to document how her home state has been eroding access to reproductive health care. In total, Droz Tragos interviewed 81 people with a spectrum of experiences to show viewers a fuller picture of the barriersincluding legislation and stigmathat affect people seeking abortion care.

Similar to HBO documentaries about abortion that have come before it—including 12th & Delaware and Abortion: Desperate ChoicesAbortion: Stories Women Tell involves short interviews with women who are having and have had abortions, conversations with the staff of the Hope Clinic about why they do the work they do, interviews with local anti-choice organizers, and footage of anti-choice protesters shouting at patients, along with beautiful shots of the Midwest landscape and the Mississippi River as patients make road trips to appointments. There are scenes of clinic escorts holding their ground as anti-choice protesters yell Bible passages and obscenities at them. One older clinic escort carries a copy of Living in the Crosshairs as a protester follows her to her car, shouting. The escort later shares her abortion story.

One of the main storytellers, Amie, is a white 30-year-old divorced mother of two living in Boonville, Missouri. She travels over 100 miles each way to the Hope Clinic, and the film chronicles her experience in getting an abortion and follow-up care. Almost two-thirds of people seeking abortions, like Amie, are already a parent. Amie says that the economic challenges of raising her other children make continuing the pregnancy nearly impossible. She describes being physically unable to carry a baby and work her 70 to 90 hours a week. Like many of the storytellers in the film, Amie talks about the internalized stigma she’s feeling, the lack of support she has from loved ones, and the fear of family members finding out. She’s resilient and determined; a powerful voice.

The film also follows Kathy, an anti-choice activist from Bloomfield, Missouri, who says she was “almost aborted,” and that she found her calling in the anti-choice movement when she noticed “Anne” in the middle of the name “Planned Parenthood.” Anne is Kathy’s middle name.

“OK Lord, are you telling me that I need to get in the middle of this?” she recalls thinking.

The filmmakers interview the staff of the Hope Clinic, including Dr. Erin King, a pregnant abortion provider who moved from Chicago to Granite City to provide care and who deals with the all-too-common protesting of her home and workplace. They speak to Barb, a talkative nurse who had an abortion 40 years earlier because her nursing school wouldn’t have let her finish her degree while she was pregnant. And Chi Chi, a security guard at the Hope Clinic who is shown talking back to the protesters judging patients as they walk into the clinic, also shares her abortion story later in the film. These stories remind us that people who have abortions are on the frontlines of this work, fighting to defend access to care.

To address the full spectrum of pregnancy experiences, the film also features the stories of a few who, for various reasons, placed their children for adoption or continued to parent. While the filmmakers interview Alexis, a pregnant Black high school student whose mother died when she was 8 years old, classmates can be heard in the distance tormenting her, asking if she’s on the MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant. She’s visibly distraught and crying, illustrating the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum women of color experiencing unintended pregnancy often face.

Te’Aundra, another young Black woman, shares her story of becoming pregnant just as she received a college basketball scholarship. She was forced to turn down the scholarship and sought an adoption, but the adoption agency refused to help her since the child’s father wouldn’t agree to it. She says she would have had an abortion if she could start over again.

While anti-choice rhetoric has conflated adoption as the automatic abortion alternative, research has shown that most seeking adoption are personally debating between adoption and parenting. This is illustrated in Janet’s story, a woman with a drug addiction who was raising one child with her partner, but wasn’t able to raise a second, so she sought an adoption. These stories are examples of the many societal systems failing those who choose adoption or students raising families, in addition to those fighting barriers to abortion access.

At times, the film feels repetitive and disjointed, but the stories are powerful. The range of experiences and reasons for having an abortion (or seeking adoption) bring to life the data points too often ignored by politicians and the media: everything from economic instability and fetal health, to domestic violence and desire to finish an education. The majority of abortion stories featured were shared by those who already had children. Their stories had a recurring theme of loneliness and lack of support from their loved ones and friends at a time when they needed it. Research has shown that 66 percent of people who have abortions tend to only tell 1.24 people about their experience, leaving them keeping a secret for fear of judgment and shame.

While many cite financial issues when paying for abortions or as the reason for not continuing the pregnancy, the film doesn’t go in depth about how the patients come to pay for their abortions—which is something my employer, the National Network for Abortion Funds (NNAF), directly addresses—or the systemic issues that created their financial situations.

However, it brings to light the hypocrisy of our nation, where the invisible hand of our society’s lack of respect for pregnant people and working parents can force people to make pregnancy decisions based on economic situations rather than a desire to be pregnant or parent.

“I’m not just doing this for me” is a common phrase when citing having an abortion for existing or future children.

Overall, the film is moving simply because abortion stories are moving, especially for audiences who don’t have the opportunity to have someone share their abortion story with them personally. I have been sharing my abortion story for five years and hearing someone share their story with me always feels like a gift. I heard parts of my own story in those shared; however, I felt underrepresented in this film that took place partly in my home state of Illinois. While people of color are present in the film in different capacities, a racial analysis around the issues covered in the film is non-existent.

Race is a huge factor when it comes to access to contraception and reproductive health care; over 60 percent of people who have abortions are people of color. Yet, it took 40 minutes for a person of color to share an abortion story. It seemed that five people of color’s abortion stories were shown out of the over 20 stories, but without actual demographic data, I cannot confirm how all the film’s storytellers identify racially. (HBO was not able to provide the demographic data of the storytellers featured in the film by press time.)

It’s true that racism mixed with sexism and abortion stigma make it more difficult for people of color to speak openly about their abortion stories, but continued lack of visual representation perpetuates that cycle. At a time when abortion storytellers themselves, like those of NNAF’s We Testify program, are trying to make more visible a multitude of identities based on race, sexuality, immigration status, ability, and economic status, it’s difficult to give a ringing endorsement of a film that minimizes our stories and relegates us to the second half of a film, or in the cases of some of these identities, nowhere at all. When will we become the central characters that reality and data show that we are?

In July, at the progressive conference Netroots Nation, the film was screened followed by an all-white panel discussion. I remember feeling frustrated at the time, both because of the lack of people of color on the panel and because I had planned on seeing the film before learning about a march led by activists from Hands Up United and the Organization for Black Struggle. There was a moment in which I felt like I had to choose between my Blackness and my abortion experience. I chose my Black womanhood and marched with local activists, who under the Black Lives Matter banner have centered intersectionality. My hope is that soon I won’t have to make these decisions in the fight for abortion rights; a fight where people of color are the backbone whether we’re featured prominently in films or not.

The film highlights the violent rhetoric anti-choice protesters use to demean those seeking abortions, but doesn’t dissect the deeply racist and abhorrent comments, often hurled at patients of color by older white protesters. These racist and sexist comments are what fuel much of the stigma that allows discriminatory laws, such as those banning so-called race- and sex-selective abortions, to flourish.

As I finished the documentary, I remembered a quote Chelsea, a white Christian woman who chose an abortion when her baby’s skull stopped developing above the eyes, said: “Knowing you’re not alone is the most important thing.”

In her case, her pastor supported her and her husband’s decision and prayed over them at the church. She seemed at peace with her decision to seek abortion because she had the support system she desired. Perhaps upon seeing the film, some will realize that all pregnancy decisions can be quite isolating and lonely, and we should show each other a bit more compassion when making them.

My hope is that the film reaches others who’ve had abortions and reminds them that they aren’t alone, whether they see themselves truly represented or not. That we who choose abortion are normal, loved, and supported. And that’s the main point of the film, isn’t it?

Abortion: Stories Women Tell is available in theaters in select cities and will be available on HBO in 2017.

credo_rewire_vote_3

Vote for Rewire and Help Us Earn Money

Rewire is in the running for a CREDO Mobile grant. More votes for Rewire means more CREDO grant money to support our work. Please take a few seconds to help us out!

VOTE!

Thank you for supporting our work!