Roundup: Mexico “Miscarriages” Freed and Other World News

Robin Marty

The "Guanajuato Seven" are freed, family planning becomes a focus in more countries, and  why do Dutch teens have less pregnancy and STIs?

In Mexico, good news, as the women who were imprisoned for suspicious “miscarriages” have been freed.  The seven women, accused of “homicide against a relative” for giving birth to premature babies that did not survive, have now been released, although they have already served long prison sentences.  Will the country take another look at their over-zealous abortion laws? From the Associated Press:

While Guanajuato still allows abortion under very limited circumstances, like rape, rights activists say that in practice even that possibility is often denied women.

Activist Rosalia Cruz Sanchez says doctors fearing prosecution often require a woman impregnated by rape to produce a letter from prosecutors confirming that. She said authorities often delay until the window for such an abortion — 12 weeks in most states — has passed, forcing the woman to bear the child.

Abortion on demand in the first trimester is legal only in Mexico City, under a 2007 law that has enraged the country’s conservatives and sparked a wave of state right-to-life laws.

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While the “Guanajuato Seven” have received largely favorable media coverage, not everyone was cheering about the legal reform that led to their release.

In a statement, two pro-life groups — the Yucatan Pro Network and The Center for Women’s Studies — said that “homicide against a relative will never be a woman’s right.”

It is “worrisome that now a woman attacking the life of her child would be considered a non-serious crime, as long as she does it within 24 hours after it is born.”

In the Philippines, the country is making a strong commitment to reducing poverty in the country, including reducing child mortality and increasing maternal health through programs like family planning.  But the continuing battle over allowing any forms of contraceptives to be promoted in the country has made the road increasingly difficult, especially as political leaders change.  From

[Dr. Honorata Catibog, director III of the Family Health

Office – National Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the Department of Health] noted that under the regime of President Macapagal-Arroyo, priority was given to the promotion of the national family planning methods, both artificial and natural.

She said the use of artificial methods was not effective even in previous administrations because the focus was more on the methods to be used instead of the clients.

Also during the Arroyo administration, Catibog said the DOH had piloted manuals on sexuality among second year students in 17 public high schools nationwide.

The pilot-testing, however, was stopped by two population commissioners in Malacañang who were against the spread of the modules and ordered a review of the manuals.

“Doon tayo nag-urong sulong (That’s where we flip-flopped). Whoever assumes the political leadership, ganoon ang nangyayari (that’s what happens) and that is why there’s a need for a legislation that will really strengthen the efforts on how to go about the management of the program,” Catibog said.

Dr. Mariella Castillo, technical officer of Maternal and Child Health

of the World Health Organization, agreed with Catibog that the program’s effectiveness would depend on the political will of national leaders.

“Sometimes, even if the policy is flip-flopping, the solutions can be very simple even if sasabihin na eh nasa political will na pag-implement (it is said that implementation is in the political will),” she said.

She said that the WHO country offices have been assisting governments in strengthening their health systems and promoting interventions that focus on pro-poor and cost-effective policies and standards.

According to Catibog, the Philippines, with a population of 91 million, now ranks 12th worldwide in terms of population size.

Under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, there has been a “redirection” of the program in terms of theme to make sure that it will be implemented from the national level down to the regional and local levels, noting that President Aquino himself has expressed support for the promotion of both the natural and artificial methods.

“Wala pong changes sa DOH policy (There are no changes in the DOH policy). We are promoting all methods mentioned in the Administrative Order of the DOH which spelled out the family planning policy of the government in 2001. That has not been revised,” she said.

“This time, we’re giving importance to clients’ needs instead of methods. It’s more of giving information to clients so that they can make an informed choice,” she added.

Jakarta is also focusing on family planning, and they’re involving some clever p.r.  Via the Jakarta Post:

When a song called Vasectomy was aired by an independent Indonesian Internet radio station earlier this year, many listeners thought it a joke due to the song’s literal treatment of such a “delicate” matter.

The song, though little known to audiences, was in fact a public service announcement from the National Family Planning Agency (BKKBN), radio station organizer Christoforus Priyonugroho said.

Finally, do the Dutch have something for us to learn about teens and sex?  Salon’s Broadsheet seems to think so.

More generally, the country’s “moral rules cast sexuality as a part of life that should be governed by self-determination, mutual respect, frank conversation, and the prevention of unintended consequence.” It’s no coincidence that the country has also secured easy access (for both teens and adults) to contraceptives and other sexual healthcare.

The upshot of all this? Dutch teens are giving birth left and right and plagued by STDs! Oh, no, wait — the truth is actually the opposite of that. “In 2007, births to American teens (ages fifteen to nineteen) were eight times as high as in the Netherlands,” reports Schalet, and the Netherlands generally whoops on the states in terms of STD rates, too. What’s more, “it also appears that having sex outside of the context of monogamous romantic relationships isn’t as common among Dutch adolescents, especially older ones, as among their American counterparts.”

Mini Roundup: You can find some helpful things online, like a site for sharia-approved sex aids.  But remember, sometimes the things you find online can make you sick, too.

September 7, 2010

Topics and Tags:

Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines

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