Ian


All Work

Update on Eric Keroack

Ian

There is so much media coverage and conversation going on about new Department of Health & Human Services appointee Dr. Eric Keroack that we figured it might be more helpful to provide a round-up than it would be to add to the fray. Read on to catch up on what's being said about the new director of the federal family planning program:

Editorials

  • The New York Times calls Keroack's appointment a "Family Planning Farce." The first line of the article: "It sounds like a late-night parody of President Bush's bad habit of filling key posts with extreme ideologues and incompetents." It could be, but this isn't SNL: the new director of Title X family planning dollars doesn't appear to believe in birth control.
  • The Washington Post's editorial was entitled, "To Oversee Family Planning: Someone Whose Clinics Won't Offer It."
  • The Boston Globe's "Not Family Friendly" asserts that while Keroack's appointment should not be a total surprise to anyone who has followed this administration, "to name an opponent of family planning to oversee the nation's family planning program is perverse even by the standards of a government that doesn't much believe in government."

Blogs

Interviews from the Supreme Court Steps: Late Term Abortion Cases

Ian

Rewire editor Scott Swenson and associate editor Tyler LePard went to the Supreme Court on November 8 and talked with demonstrators from both sides about the late term abortion cases before the Court.

For more on that day, read Scott's reflections and Tyler's reflections.

And think about adding your comments! What do you make of this video? The footage mostly shows comments from anti-choice protesters, including an extended interview with Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. The ambiguity in these arguments is fascinating.

How would you respond?

Watch the footage below the fold.

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Planned Parenthood Podcast from the Supreme Court

Ian

On November 8, Planned Parenthood Federation of America senior staff attorney, Eve Gartner, stood before the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and presented oral arguments in our crucial case Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In her arguments, Eve urged the court to sustain the essential principle that no abortion restriction can endanger a woman’s health or risk a woman’s life. When she finished, she recorded a podcast on the steps of the Supreme Court to share her reactions and thoughts with you.
Listen to the podcast at SaveROE.com.

CBS Qualifies Use of “Partial Birth Abortion” for Its Reporters

Ian

CBS News Senior Vice President, Standards and Special Projects Linda Mason, in an email to CBS staff:

"We thought that 'partial birth' is a color phrase for people who are anti-abortion rights," said Mason. "This is a procedure usually done after 20 weeks. Therefore, 'late term' is appropriate. Now, some colleagues have come back to me and questioned this because the name of the law before the Supreme Court is the 'Partial-Birth Abortion.' When people refer to the case, they should call it by the correct name. But a CBS reporter should call the procedure a 'late term abortion.'"

Where is the “Pro-Life” Lobby? The Sequel

Ian

Today is Election Day 2006, the day that political pundits and average Americans alike have been wondering about for months, because the faces of government are likely to look a lot different tomorrow than they do today. There has been a lot going on in light of this election, and conservative interest groups have a lot of election issues on their plates. But considering the significance of abortion to so many of these "pro-lifers," does it surprise anyone else that so few of these groups are talking about the abortion-related Supreme Court cases that begin tomorrow?

Send a Text Message for Reproductive Health?

Ian

While Rewire likes to be ahead of the curve in terms of our use of technology, we certainly haven't mastered it all. We are glad to report about good use of technology for reproductive health advocacy, even when it isn't us.

Women's Voices, Women's Vote have been going at it hard this election season, trying to get out the female vote in America - 20 million eligible women didn't vote during the last election. And among their strategies? Besides releasing all of their TV ads on YouTube (like our friends at NARAL Pro-Choice America have done), they're making use of another increasingly popular technology: cell phone text messaging, or SMS.[img_assist|nid=1315|title=Click Here to Watch the Video|desc=|link=none|align=middle|width=640|height=505]

New Study Suggests Breast Cancer/Oral Contraception Link

Ian

A new study released this week suggests that there is a link, (a fairly significant-sounding link actually), between breast cancer and oral contraceptives. What the study has going for it is that it was published in the very legitimate, peer-reviewed journal Mayo Proceedings, from the Mayo Clinic. But while we are not inclined to question the integrity of the Mayo Clinic, we do think there are some serious questions to be considered about the report.

Far-right Groups Botch Science on Abortion & Breast Cancer

Ian

A study from Oxford researchers was released this week that once again concluded that there is no data to support the claim from radical anti-choice activists that abortion (induced or spontaneous) causes breast cancer. This research only further bolsters the arguments from the American Cancer Institute (a federally-funded branch of NIH), the Mayo Clinic, a US Congressional report and others that say there is conclusive evidence that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. But for some reason, the far-right Canadian website, LifeSite, was quick to write that this new research is flawed, and to reaffirm their claim that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. What on earth is going on here? How can they keep making these claims? Some people are inclined to think that it’s just because they’re so ideologically constrained that they can’t see the science sitting right in front of them. But if you read their article, you get an even more comical picture: they have absolutely no ability to logically evaluate the science, and (why is this typical of the far-right?) they will continue on message regardless of the research and regardless of how ridiculous they look.

FRC Against Dybul: Putting a Gay Man in Charge of AIDS Prevention Like a “Fox in charge of the henhouse”

Ian

Remember that post about David Kuo's new book Tempting Faith? People have been wondering out loud after its release this week if the Religious Right would freak out and live up to the titles given them by some in the Bush Administration ("whackos," "nuts," etc.) Well, whether they've read the book or not, check this out...

Referring to Mark Dybul, the Bush Administration's appointee to direct the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council (FRC) had this to say:

Will Product (RED) Shake Up HIV Advocacy?

Ian

Product (RED), an initiative conceived by Bono to get international brands to market and support the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, & Malaria, officially hit American shores Friday. I have a feeling that many readers are wondering what on earth it is and that most readers cock their heads when they hear “Bono” and “Global Fund” in the same sentence (albeit for dramatically different reasons, depending on what you think of Bono). Regardless, you won’t be wondering for much longer. But the question I have to ask is, “Why didn’t you know in the first place?”

Tempt Faith and You’re Bound to Get Burned

Ian

1976 was the “Year of the Evangelical,” with the election of President Jimmy Carter and the emergence of this “new” (at least to the American public) Christian movement onto the political scene. 1980 heralded the year of the New Right, which essentially gutted Jimmy Carter of his presidency, elected Ronald Reagan, and solidified the entrance of conservative evangelicals into American public life. (There are some liberal and moderate evangelicals by the way, Carter being only one of them.) They played a big part in the new Congress of 1994, and they have risen to a place of power, perhaps hubris, that led them to claim that they essentially single-handedly re-elected George W. Bush to the presidency in 2004. The past 25 years have in many ways belonged to that group, but there are signs of a change coming – 2006 could very well be remembered as the year that group lost its dominance in American politics.

Moderate Democrats are rising to the top in Congressional races across the nation over their radically conservative peers. As if that alone weren’t a sign of this change, a book that is hitting the shelves today could very well help to seal the coffin for the Religious Right. David Kuo, the former “#2” staffer in the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, has published Tempting Faith, a scathing indictment of the religious compromise and political manipulations that have characterized this movement and, according to him, the Bush White House.

Where is the Pro-Family Lobby Now?

Ian

As of the time of writing for this blog, Focus on the Family has said nothing on its website, and Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America both issued only cursory and confusing statements late this afternoon about Congressman Mark Foley's sexually explicit communications with young boys who worked in his office.

No mention of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow saying essentially that Foley's comments were okay because others have done worse. No mention of the top House leadership collectively dodging resposibility for the children entrusted to their care during the summers.

Political Stunt with Interstate Abortion Notification Law Continues

Ian

Ellen Marshall blogged earlier today about the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), and Nancy Keenan of NARAL did as well. (See also: Feministing.) It went through a vote yesterday in the House in a way that left us wondering if it was a purely political stunt. As Ellen pointed out, by passing the bill with slightly different language than the Senate version, House conservatives appeared to have killed their own initiative. There was little presumed chance that the Senate would be able to return to it in time to approve it before this session of Congress ended, and failure to act would have left it dead until next session.

NewsHour Looks at South Dakota Abortion Ban

Ian

In case you missed it, NewsHour did a segment on the South Dakota anti-abortion law that voters will considered in a ballot initiative this fall. It's from March of this year.

Anti-Contraception Activists You Should Know

Ian

A unique conference will begin tonight in Chicago, and I have a feeling that very few of our readers have heard of it. CINTA, which stands for "Contraception Is Not The Answer," will be convened by the Pro-Life Action League (PLAL) and its infamous leader, Joseph Scheidler. While the media has been catching up with the trend against contraception from the far-right and its increasing influence on politics, we thought it might be helpful to provide some background on the conference presenters.

What if there was a national ballot initiative?

Ian

There isn't one, but maybe there is something like it... I subscribe to the RSS feeds for Family Research Council’s (FRC) “Alerts,” and I was struck recently by the 6 new ones that appeared in my inbox:

  • “Volunteers for Virginia Marriage Amendment needed”
  • “Volunteers need to help pass marriage amendment in Wisconsin”
  • “South Dakota faces ballot initiatives on marriage, abortion, and gambling”
  • “Tennessee marriage amendment needs your help”
  • “Effort to defend traditional marriage underway in Idaho”
  • “South Carolina elected officials need to support the marriage amendment”

This is not the FRC PAC sending out these messages. This is FRC’s main office for the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is legally bound from engaging in partisan electoral activities. Ballot initiatives are technically apolitical — after all, it is not inherently Republican to want to ban gay marriage and abortion (wouldn’t both be an exercise of “big government” intrusion?). They have been the means for political engagements for non-profit organizations in the past, but I don’t know that I’ve seen such a clear example of this scale of activism until this one.

Could a Shifting Right Mean a New “Left?”

Ian

Ahead of this November’s elections, Rewire will increasingly be looking at issues in the political landscape and how they relate to reproductive health. This is one of those cases.

Tuesday’s LA Times ran an article that included a quote few of you are going to believe. Under the headline “Christian Coalition is Splintering,” John W. Giles of the Christian Coalition (CC) of Alabama is quoted: “The Christian Coalition is drifting to the left.”

The New SaveROE.com

Ian

SaveROE.com, the blog of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), has been re-launched with a new design and some neat tools.  SaveROE digests news related to reproductive choice in America and provides access to many of the campaigns and initiatives of PPFA. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.

Premature End for Microbicide Trial Brings Sobering News

Ian

Microbicides raised hopes at the recent International AIDS Conference for their potential to offer an HIV prevention technique that could be initiated by women. But many researchers and advocates who work on microbicide development have been quick to offer cautions to the public that excitement not build too fast because a marketable product could still be years away.

The news that a Pennsylvania firm, Cellegy, has stopped its stage 3 (human testing) trial of a microbicide gel only adds to that sobering reminder. After a year of studying over 2,000 women in a trial that compared the real drug against a placebo, they have concluded that there is no statistically significant data being derived from the study. In an area where the rate of HIV transmission was expected to be about 3.7% a year, the women in this study are experiencing a rate of transmission closer to 2%. Good news, except it means that researchers can’t tell the difference between the microbicide’s effectiveness and the effectiveness of the condoms and HIV-prevention counseling offered to all of the women as part of the trial.

Comments, Anyone?

Ian

Editorial headline from LifeSiteNews.com:

"Abortion in Cases of Rape: Why Not Kill the Guilty Rapist Before the Innocent Child?"

Where to begin...   Comments, anyone?

Looking for the Less-Obvious on Plan B

Ian

Acting FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach's decision, supported by President Bush, to approve Plan B for over-the-counter (OTC) status for women over 18 was a political decision. The question is not whether it was politically motivated, but what kind of political motivations were at play here.

I don't think this decision should be too quickly underestimated as political caving toward either direction. With today's decision, the FDA has crafted a unique policy that will for the first time permit a drug to be distributed with separate rules for different age groups. It's a decision that neither side of the debate is excited about: social conservatives don't like that it was approved at all, and reproductive health advocates are upset that the approval was made arbitrarily for a certain age group, irrespective of the science. Both sides are upset. In the search for an answer about motives, aren't we supposed to first discern who benefits?

Right Wing Takes a Swing at FDA Nominee (or, Miersgate 2.0)

Ian

When I wrote last week during the Toronto AIDS Conference about the absence of “pro-life” voices speaking out against HIV/AIDS, I mentioned that many of them had turned their attentions to Plan B. While many of this site’s readers were focused on Toronto, several of those groups were mobilizing to take out Andrew von Eschenbach before he is possibly confirmed by the Senate as FDA Commissioner.

Concerned Women for America is leading the charge, claiming that the “driving force” in “efforts to make the abortion-causing drug available over-the-counter…is none other than the acting FDA Commissioner Von Eschenback” (sic). Family Research Council is on the move too, announcing that they oppose his confirmation on account of his possible compromise with Plan B’s manufacturer in developing a plan for over-the-counter sales – a possibility that most reproductive health advocates believe is by no means guaranteed. (Side-note on FRC’s statement: While they claim to have this strong moral opposition to Plan B, they dismiss Barr Laboratories, the drug’s manufacturer, from bearing any responsibility in the matter. Why? Because they’re a for-profit drug company. Apparently for FRC, morals don’t have to hold sway in the marketplace.) Both groups are inviting supporters to call the White House and Senate and complain about Dr. von Eschenbach’s nomination.

Everyone’s Talking About AIDS, Except for So-Called “Pro-Lifers”?

Ian

I’ve spent the week wondering why, while 25,000 people in Toronto and almost every major media outlet has focused in on AIDS, the radical right-wing groups who claim to be “pro-life” have been dead silent about the world’s biggest preventable killer. Focus on the Family? Concerned Women for America? Family Research Council? Nothing to say. But then a little blink from my RSS reader alerted me to a new article posted on LifeSiteNews.com on Tuesday afternoon: they had proved us wrong, and had actually taken time to talk about the conference. And what, might you guess, did they have to say?

Gateses Speak Out for Women

Ian

As coverage of the conference continues to roll along, I thought I'd make an addition to Tamar Abrams' post from earlier: we have video footage of the remarks from both Bill and Melinda Gates that Tamar mentioned in her post.

These clips both include strong messages of support for the need to reduce stigma and provide women with greater support in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As the Gates Foundation vies for its place among the G8, it should be encouraging for reproductive health advocates that they are making such bold statements.

 

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Videos (c) The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Family Research Council’s Blog is Confused About Plan B

Ian

I’ll just start with the assumption that many of you (since you’re reading this blog) also read the blog from the Family Research Council. There may be a few of you here and there who don’t read it every day, yeah, sure. Fine. But those of you who do may have noticed that they, too, are providing some coverage of the Senate hearings for Andrew Von Eschenbach, and I bet you took issue with a response to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) posted there yesterday.

The Latest on Plan B

Ian

After months of silence on the issue, today has been a big day for Plan B, the emergency contraception pill at the heart of a political battle involving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and the Workforce held its first hearing today to determine whether it would give approval to Andrew von Eschenbach, nominee for FDA Commissioner. And yesterday, just ahead of this hearing, FDA sent a letter to Plan B’s manufacturer requesting a meeting to discuss its approval for over-the-counter sales.

The Face of Gender Inequity

Ian

The BBC ran a story today that will turn many who read it toward sympathy: “Bangladesh’s Acid Attack Problem” tells a brief story about the hundreds of people in that country who have had concentrated acid thrown on their bodies. Most of those victims are women, and they are most often victims because they refuse propositions for marriage or otherwise spurn would-be lovers. While the sheer numbers recounted may be relatively low compared with other crimes, the horror of these attacks is representative of the extreme gender disparity that still goes unchecked in some developing countries.

Senate Vote Expected on Teen Endangerment Act

Ian

Senate debate began on Friday on a bill, S. 403, otherwise known as the Teen Endangerment Act.  The bill would make it illegal for anyone other than a parent to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion.  Pro-choice Senate Democrats are expected to offer a variety of amendments to the bill in order to soften its restrictive impact, including a provision that would allow clergy and grandparents to transfer minors as well as parents.

As debate progresses and the Senate votes on the bill, which is expected to happen as early as today, Rewire will be keeping you up-to-date with more commentary.

Evidence-Based Prevention to be Highlighted at AIDS Conference

Ian

In the weeks leading up to the 16th annual conference of the International AIDS Society, to be held this year in Toronto, Canada from August 13-18, Rewire will from time to time be looking at issues related to the conference.

The Toronto Star has begun covering some of those issues as well, and today, they profile issues of censorship and misinformation promoted by the Bush Administration in the fight against HIV/AIDS. No surprises here perhaps, but the Bush Administration has attempted to limit the number of NIH and CDC employees attending the conference to 50 people, when there could potentially be hundreds from those organizations who would want to join the 26,000 other attendees from around the world.

New & Better Reproductive Health Strategies for Latinos

Ian

The National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy group in the United States, recently published what promises to be an important report for sexual and reproductive health in America. Entre Parejas: An Exploration of Latino Perspectives on Family Planning and Contraception” takes a comprehensive look at issues of access and attitude toward family planning and contraception among Latino women and men.

Considering that half of Latino Americans are under age 30 – many in prime reproductive years – and that Latinos are rapidly becoming the largest ethnic minority in the United States, this report comes at a critical time to help develop better and more culturally sensitive sexual and reproductive health services and strategies aimed at Latinos.

Apples and Oranges, Abstinence and Abortion

Ian

Steve from The Carpetbagger Report took a look at the new report from the Minority Office of the House Committee for Government Reform exposing the misinformation distributed by federally-funded crisis pregnancy centers, and he does a good job pointing out that this is yet another case of the same old news from the Bush administration – bad science being used to support an ideological agenda. It might be one thing for them to believe differently than the next person about the issue of abortion, but to spread widely debunked claims with federal funds in the name of their agenda is plainly irresponsible.

One thing that should be emphasized in addition to what Steve wrote: these programs are being funded with money meant for abstinence-only education. Where is the connection here?

More New Legislation: Protect Global Youth From HIV

Ian

For years now, the HIV/AIDS advocacy community has been aware that the “abstinence-only” funding earmark in PEPFAR is hindering HIV prevention work on the ground. A few months ago, the GAO confirmed those concerns with an extensive report. Now, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced legislation – the HIV Prevention for Youth Act – that would clarify the stipulations of the funding in order to help service providers succeed in their communities.

Good News from Louisiana?

Ian

When people think of reproductive health in Louisiana these days, they think of SB 33, an ultra-restrictive abortion ban that would outlaw abortions, including in cases of rape and incest and to protect the health of the mother.  So it should come as welcome news to hear about a more levelheaded reproductive health program: the state has just been approved for a program that will expand preventive family planning services for women.  Louisiana will receive matching federal funds to provide contraception, gynecological exams, and other services to uninsured low-income women who do not qualify for Medicare.  About 75,000 women will be served state-wide through this program, called “TAKE CHARGE.”  

World Population Day Focuses on Global Youth

Ian

Today is World Population Day, an annual event convened by the UNFPA in conjunction with other parts of the UN system to raise awareness about important population and development issues.  This year's World Population Day is focused on the pressing needs of youth around the world.  This theme is particularly timely. 

As the largest youth generation in history - at approximately 3 billion people, nearly half of the total global population - today's youth urgently need education and resources that will equip them for their futures.  This education must include sexual and reproductive health education if global youth are going to have any hope of overcoming the challenges they will face, particularly widespread poverty, a growing HIV pandemic, and a lack of basic health care services.

More Inconsistencies on Stem Cells and Contraception

Ian

If you haven’t read Michael Kinsley’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post, “False Dilemma on Stem Cells,” you need to.  In it, he points to exactly the kind of inconsistencies in the logic of organizations that oppose sexual and reproductive rights that Rewire often tries to highlight. 

We have talked about the thinking among these groups that seek to prohibit abortion at the same time as they seek to prohibit contraception – the most effective, proven way of preventing unwanted pregnancies (and thereby, abortions) among sexually active individuals.  In other words, they say they want to stop abortions, but they’re not willing to support the easiest way to prevent them. 

Missing the Point, and Failing on Human Trafficking

Ian

The plot thickens. Twice in the past few weeks, I have written about some serious confusion on the part of a radical right wing group, C-FAM, in the war against human trafficking. It appears that they don’t know the difference (or perhaps, choose not to differentiate) between forced human trafficking and prostitution. In other words: more signs of the right wing’s intense obsession with sex. That thought fueled a hunch that C-FAM might not be the only group in their camp on this page, and it looks like that hunch might have been right.

After looking through materials from Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) and Focus on the Family’s websites, it looks like more of the same. CWA’s Janice Crouse wrote an article with the following title: Ending Modern-Day Slavery: Some Solutions to Sex Trafficking.” Focus on the Family’s Citizenlink.org features an article, “U.S. Targets Human Trafficking.” The first line of that article? “The federal government is ramping up its war on sex trafficking.” Another from CWA, “Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking,” begins with the following: “It’s a given: Prostitution co-exists with military bases and installations.”

The One Percent Doctrine and Reproductive Health

Ian

Ron Suskind’s new book, The One Percent Doctrine, has made a few waves in the media and blogosphere, and rightly so. Check out this section from it, as quoted by Maureen Dowd in yesterday’s NYT:

Mr. Suskind describes the Cheney doctrine: "Even if there's just a 1 percent chance of the unimaginable coming due, act as if it is a certainty. It's not about 'our analysis,' as Cheney said. It's about 'our response.' ... Justified or not, fact-based or not, 'our response' is what matters. As to 'evidence,' the bar was set so low that the word itself almost didn't apply." (emphasis added)

I’m sure Vice President Cheney was referring to security issues, but it is amazing how similar that sounds to some Bush Administration behaviors in other areas. Consider the following as some examples.

The Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act(ions)

Ian

We just posted a new Policy Watch piece on the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act, sponsored by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). Our hope is that that article and others in our Policy Watch archive can be helpful references for tracking Congressional activity and understanding what is happening on reproductive health issues in government.

The Unintended Pregnancy Prevention act, introduced a month ago, would expand Medicaid coverage for contraception and family planning services. It represents a trend in Sen. Clinton’s policymaking and messaging of late.

C-FAM Continues to Miss an Opportunity to Fight Trafficking

Ian

After writing last week about a seemingly dishonest attempt from C-FAM to campaign against human trafficking, their follow-up email for that campaign this week appears to confirm my suspicions.

It is the same email from last week, recycled in its entirety, with two small changes: a list of “progress” items at the front, and a change in the number of signatures needed at the bottom. But Austin Ruse didn’t spend too much time on even those changes – he updated how many signatures they had received, but he forgot to update how many they needed. Or did he?

It still says they need “50,000 more and we need it fast," same as last week. Do they need those signatures for the campaign, or do they just need some more email addresses for their mailing list? Considering that C-FAM has been on a “serious” fundraising kick for the past month, every email they can get on that list might translate into another person opening their pocketbooks, either now or in the future.

Catholic Bishops Do the Right Thing by Not Denying Communion to Politicians

Ian

At Rewire, we’re willing to give credit where credit is due, and I think credit is due to the US Catholic bishops for their recent decision, reported yesterday, to not invoke a communion ban for politicians who do not support the Catholic Church’s perspective on abortion in their public life.

The possibility of bishops denying communion to such public officials made major news in the 2004 election cycle, when Sen. John Kerry, a Roman Catholic who supports reproductive rights, was targeted by critics for his views. The American Life League has led the efforts to pressure Catholic bishops to deny communion to Sen. Kerry and other politicians, and some in this camp have even called for the excommunication of such politicians. ALL started a campaign, the “Crusade for the Defense of our Catholic Church,” that produced ads demonizing a group they call the “Deadly Dozen” – the “most influential” pro-choice Catholic politicians, which has included Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). There was even a blog – Catholic Kerry Watch – dedicated to defaming John Kerry on account of this issue during the 2004 campaign.

Video: Global Health Council Panel Discussion

Ian

[img_assist|nid=292|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=61|height=69]This post includes links to video footage of the entire presentation, as well as to Rewire interviews with panel members.

On May 30th, the Global Health Council's annual conference featured a panel discussion on a new report from the UN Millennium Project entitled, "Public Choices, Private Decisions: Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals."

The report's author, Stan Bernstein of the UN Millennium Project and UNFPA, was joined on the panel by renowned author and development expert Jeffrey D. Sachs of the UN Millennium Project, and by Ana Langer, president and CEO of EngenderHealth and a leading expert in women's and family health services. The panel was moderated by Nils Daulaire, president of the Global Health Council.

It was a fantastic conversation, featuring some of the most expert voices in this field. These leaders and others like them do the work that makes Rewire possible -- they provide the solid research and thinking on reproductive health to counter the fuzzy logic of opponents.

Obsessed with Prostitution, Right-Wing Groups Miss a Chance to Fight Trafficking

Ian

When the World Cup starts this week in Germany, over 3 million people are expected to be attending from around the world, and over 40,000 sex workers have been brought in for the event. Several NGOs are raising legitimate concerns that despite Germany’s best efforts, many of the women coming to Germany will be coming against their will or under deceitful circumstances, as victims of human trafficking.

Among the right-wing NGOs, C-FAM is leading the way in making noise about the event, with their Stop World Cup Prostitution campaign. While they and others (see Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America’s statement, and Rep. Chris Smith’s statement) might be bringing the horrible crime of human trafficking into a broader light, their main obsession appears to be prostitution, not trafficking. This focus may actually be hampering efforts to effect real and lasting change that would serve to end human trafficking.

“AIDS is a Virus, Not a Moral Condition”

Ian

A panel discussion was hosted today by the Center for Health & Gender Equity and other NGOs that focused on US sexual and reproductive health policies as they affect HIV/AIDS work abroad. Rolake Odetoyinbo from Nigeria, Beatrice Were from Uganda, Meena Seeshu from India, Gabriela Liete from Brazil, and Rev. Johannes Petrus Heath from Namibia all had nearly the same message to share: that despite the benefits that have come from PEPFAR and other work of the Bush Administration, moralistic policies are making their work difficult.

UNAIDS’ Piot Tells Delegates He is “Angry” About Negotations

Ian

Last night, UNAIDS hosted a dinner reception for the Global Coalition on Women & AIDS leadership council at the Ford Foundation.  Several leaders spoke briefly, including UNAIDS chief Peter Piot.

To a room of official country delegates to the UN and high level NGO staff, Piot confessed his disappointment about the state of negotiations -- as of last night -- on the political declaration for the UNGASS on AIDS.

"I am angry," he said, adding that the political maneuvering in the negotiations were coming close to being "unethical." 

"This is about people's lives."

GHC Panel: Jeffrey Sachs (Part 1)

Ian

This segment includes the first half of Jeffrey Sachs' comments. The second half of his comments are available to view in a subsequent post.

GHC Panel: Q & A (Part 1)

Ian

This clip includes the first part of the question & answer portion of the presentation. It is moderated by Nils Daulaire.

GHC Panel: Intro with Nils Daulaire, Stan Bernstein

Ian

This post includes the opening footage from the panel discussion on "Public Choices, Private Decisions: Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals."

Nils Daulaire, president of the Global Health Council, introduces the report, and its author, Stan Bernstein.

GHC Panel: Ana Langer

Ian

This clip includes comments from Ana Langer. It is followed by a question & answer session moderated by Nils Daulaire.

GHC Panel: Q & A (Part 2)

Ian

This clip includes the second portion of the question & answer session at the end of the presentation. It also includes closing remarks from Nils Daulaire.

GHC Panel: Jeffrey Sachs (Part 2)

Ian

This segment includes the second half of comments from Jeffrey Sachs. The first half of his comments are available in a previous post.

US UNGASS Delegation Raises a Few Questions

Ian

The Administration recently released the list of members for the US delegation to the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS, and it raised some eyebrows – both for the fact that it is so large (with 26 Administration members and 11 from the private sector) and on account of some of those who were selected. For an Administration that has left us all questioning its commitment to evidence-based public health policies, several of these nominees have quite questionable backgrounds on HIV. It appears that ideology is again the most important credential to this Administration.

A Step Backward in Kenya

Ian

Following on the heels of coverage in the New York Times yesterday and Scott's post about it, we hear more today about the HIV epidemic in Kenya. First Lady Lucy Kibaki has made a strong statement against condom use:

"Those still in school and colleges have no business having access to condoms..."

Considering that the successes in lowering the infection rate in Kenya have been from comprehensive prevention campaigns, this statement could not have been a more obvious step backward.

Ab-Only Debacle Continues At CDC

Ian

A minor note to add to previous posts: Jackie Jadrnak’s blog for the Albuquerque Journal included an interesting bit of news today. You’ll recall that recently politicians overrode the scientific peer-review process and censored a panel on abstinence-only education at a conference focused on sexually transmitted infections. Supposedly, Centers for Disease Control spokesperson Mark Skinner told Jackie that in light of the “conflict”, the CDC would revisit its policy of using a peer-review process to accept papers and panelists for future conferences.

If scientists and doctors are no longer qualified to formulate discussions on science and medicine, who is? The politicians who censored this most recent panel? Could the CDC be serious?

Considering that the heat has been on CDC for bowing to political pressure and failing to be faithful to its medical mission, one would think they’d be affirming the peer-review process as the best way to avoid such conflict in the future. Apparently not.

A Diamond In The Rough?

Ian

For many in the reproductive health community, evangelical Christians have become synonymous with retroactive policies, scientific ignorance, and in too many cases, bigotry and arrogance that together have made them the bane of protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights. For many in the HIV-positive community, these sentiments have often been felt with as much—if not more—fervor, as evangelicals’ dislike for homosexuality has nearly authorized widespread ignorance about the epidemic, and the epidemic has created a platform for expressing their views.  

So when Rick & Kay Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County start talking about HIV in a new way, all kinds of ears start listening...

Rep. Souder Claims He’s Not “Political”

Ian

CDC is a medical body dedicated to “protecting the health and safety of all Americans.”  It seems like an obvious corollary then that medical science should be the guiding force in all of its work.  If this doesn’t happen, CDC would appear to be derelict in its duty to pursue its mission.  So CDC has done the right thing in choosing to investigate the events in which politics firmly vetoed the presentation of medical science at a conference on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), preventing a discussion of documented failures in the abstinence-only sex education programs promoted by the Bush Administration. 

Words Can’t Explain

Ian

So, umm... I don't really know what to say about this, except that it's a sculpture of Britney Spears. Naked. Holding onto a wolf's head. Crouched on a carpet. As she gives birth. (And apparently, the baby's head is visible on the real sculpture)

 

Oh. I was forgetting something: it's part of a "Pro-Life" art exhibit in New York City.

International Roundup: News on Newborn Health and on HIV Prevention

Ian

A new, comprehensive report on child health from Save the Children draws attention to the simple yet unmet needs that make the difference between life and death in much of the developing world. Reporting in the International Herald Tribune highlights the report’s conclusion that the hours after birth are the most critical for protecting children. This report raises the nearly seamless issue of gaping needs for adequate maternal health care around the world. For more on that front, see our recent blog entry on maternal mortality.

International Roundup: Abstinence Only Failures Continue While Real Solutions Underfunded

Ian

Melinda Gates (yes, that Gates) writes in Newsweek about the big wrench in entrenched thinking about abstinence-only education: increasingly, women in the developing world are at greater risk contracting HIV within marriage than from any other source. The best solution? In her mind, microbicides. Behavior change would be great, but in the meantime, microbicides would save the lives of millions...

What’s up with HIMMAA?

Ian

“America needs a health care system that empowers patients to make rational and smart decisions for themselves and their families, a health care system in which the relationship between the patient and the provider are central, not a health care system where decisions are made by the federal government.” – President Bush, 4/6/06

 

Few could have said it better! So why is Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) advocating for the passage of the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (aka S. 1955, aka the “Lose Your Benefits” Act that would do just the opposite?

The Latest on Microbicides

Ian

With the “Microbicides 2006 Conference” having just wrapped up in Cape Town last week, the news is full of talk about these promising new technologies in the effort to halt the spread of HIV. One line of conversation is shared across almost all reports: microbicides may offer the greatest hope yet for protecting women from contracting HIV.

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