Anu Kumar is Executive Vice President for Ipas, an international women's reproductive health and rights organization based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She holds masters degrees in public health and anthropology, and received her doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining Ipas, Dr. Kumar spent worked at the World Health Organization in the Reproductive Health Research Division, and spent seven years at the Macarthur Foundation in their Population and Reproductive Health Division.
Certainly, sharing abortion stories can be a powerful act and may reduce self-stigma. But I fear that it distracts from the structural inequalities of race, poverty, age, and education by placing too much emphasis on the individual. And I worry that it lets our politicians and policymakers off the hook.
In Nicaragua, after a total ban on abortion was passed, a woman with an ectopic pregnancy was allowed to languis in a hospital, waiting for her fallopian tube to rupture before a doctor agreed to operate even though there was no doubt regarding the outcome of her pregnancy. This is the world that Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) would like to bring to America with the passage of H.R. 358, the Let Women Die Act of 2011.
Women around the world wonder: does the United States care about them at all? Last week's Supreme Court ruling sends a chill far beyond U.S. borders, even if it only bans a fraction of all U.S. abortion procedures. By saying so clearly that American women's health and lives are not a priority, the Supreme Court sends a message to the rest of the world that America does not value its women. What, then, could the message be for the rest of the world's women?
Last week, Andrea wrote an excellent post that pointed to the vulnerability of poor populations-particularly women-when natural disasters force them out of their homes. She reminded us not only to about the limp response of the international community that had just reached into their pockets for victims of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. She also noted the hole in disaster relief: when communities around the world donate housing and supplies to the displaced, these "care packages" generally do not include reproductive health supplies.
I was particularly pleased to see this post because Ipas has just released the second issue of A-the abortion magazine, and our focus for this issue is reproductive health for refugees and displaced women.
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