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GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS

October 1 - 15, 2000

by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk
Communications Consortium Media Center,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005
202/326-8700

 

U.S. POPULATION ASSISTANCE

Congress Daily and Reuters reported Oct. 12 that international family planning advocates joined Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Chris Shays (R-CT) at a news conference calling on Congress and President Clinton to reject "global gag rule" language in the House version of the FY2001 Foreign Operations appropriations bill. Reuters reported that Clinton has vowed "not to allow the [gag rule] policy to continue, and Democratic and Republican backers said they will stay as long as it takes to make sure the language is dropped."

The Oct. 2 Christian Science Monitor reported that "a Republican-led Congress and the White House are at odds again over a provision...[that] denies U.S. family planning aid to foreign healthcare providers involved with legal abortion services or engaged in political speech for or against abortion." It noted that Rep. John Porter (R-IL) "parts from almost all of his Republican colleagues" because he "cannot think of a more important issue for life on this planet, nor a more important human right than to plan the number and spacing of one's own children."

The Washington Times reported Oct. 5 on the politics surrounding the GAO audit of adherence to the global gag rule restrictions attached to last year's international family planning funds. The Times reported on information from Senator Jesse Helms' (R-NC) office that "the IPPF and eight other foreign family-planning groups had refused to comply with a congressional mandate that AID grantees cease abortion activities as a condition of U.S. funding."

 

GLOBAL POPULATION COVERAGE

Several media outlets reported on China's upcoming fifth national census, including the Oct. 14 New York Times, Oct. 6 Washington Times and Oct. 15 South China Morning Post. Stories also ran Oct. 13 on the Associated Press and Agence France Presse. The New York Times reported "that the census will confirm China as the world's most populous nation is beyond a doubt," but "with questions about family size, number of children, education levels, and even whether households share kitchens and bathrooms with other families, the census will provide a raft of information for government planners."

In Russia, the population is "shrinking at an unprecedented rate for an industrialized country, from 148 million three years ago to slightly more than 145 million now," according to an Oct. 5 Associated Press story. Agence France Presse also reported on the issue Oct. 5, and noted Oct. 12 that Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky "has come up with a solution to the alarming slide in Russia's population: ban abortions for 10 years and get women to marry early."

By contrast, in Italy there are "signs of an Italian population explosion" with the "birthrate ris[ing] 8%" in Milan and other northern cities. The trend is being attributed to a better economy and "a variety of measures to encourage couples to conceive" like "child care facilities near busy employment centers...tax breaks for families...a generous maternity and paternity program" and other national and local programs.

The Oct. 2 New York Times and Oct. 1 Chicago Tribune reported on population trends highlighted in the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of World Population 2000 report released Sept. 20. The Times story focused on UNFPA's Nafis Sadik and international population policy in "a new atmosphere of frankness" where "the United Nations itself is now in new territory, supporting the concept that women should have the right to make their own decisions about bearing children, and that they should have access to education and health services, a range of family planning tools and, as a last resort, safe abortions." The Chicago Tribune story noted that "some critics believe the world's largest power should become more assertive in championing international women's issues," but that "the U.S. has often been among those refusing to open its wallet because of domestic political wrangling over abortion, a practice not even funded by the international programs."

 

INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING

The Oct. 6 Associated Press reported that "school nurses in France may soon be able to distribute a morning-after contraception pill to young girls after lawmakers approved a government bill to make the pill available in junior and senior high schools."

Agence France Presse reported Oct. 15 that "India's most populous state [Uttar Pradesh] will offer condoms free of charge with mail deliveries in a bid to stem a population boom."

 

NEWS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ABORTION TRENDS

An Oct. 4 Agence France Presse story reported that in the Philippines, "women who take the abortion drug RU-486 and other similar pills will be considered automatically excommunicated from the Catholic church," according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The story mislabeled RU-486 a "contraceptive pill," as did an Oct. 6 Deutsche Press-Agentur story on the same subject.

In France, the Cabinet "introduced a bill that would allow young women to have abortions without their parents' consent and also extend the allowable limit for terminating a pregnancy, according to an Oct. 5 Associated Press story.

The Associated Press reported Oct. 6 that "at least 80,000 women received abortions in Poland last year," according to the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning.

 

OPINIONS AND EDITORIALS

Media outlets across the country weighed in supporting international family planning funding and opposing the global gag rule language in the FY2001 federal budget.

The Oct. 3 New York Times noted that "the House is again seeking, in its foreign aid bill, to impose a pernicious 'gag rule' on international groups receiving aid for family planning programs" and that "Clinton should veto any foreign aid package that contains this provision." The Times also mentioned the fight over international family planning funding in an Oct. 11 editorial that focused on "Congress's hostility to reproductive rights."

The Oct. 10 Washington Post called on Congress not to "complicate the [foreign aid] bill with unconnected and egregious language" that "would be a violation of free-speech rights if it were applied in the United States." The Houston Chronicle concurred in an Oct. 14 editorial that stated it is "wrong to tie [a] gag rule to global family planning funds" because "Americans should be promoting democracy around the world, including free speech, the foundation of liberty." The Oct. 5 Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee also called the gag rule restrictions "unconstitutional" if applied domestically.

The Boston Globe noted Oct. 10 that "the global gag rule is about more than just rhetoric" because it "forces small health clinics and other organizations receiving U.S. aid to endure a complicated certification process" and leads to a "new 'blacklist' of public health organizations" that have decided not to comply.

The Anchorage Daily News called on President Clinton Oct. 5 to "not yield to blackmail again" and "resist any temptation to bargain away a position he rightfully took at the outset of his tenure when he revoked the 'global gag rule' first invoked by President Reagan in 1984." Similarly, the Oct. 12 Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME) stated that "in a world where unsafe abortions kills tens of thousands of women each year, a gag rule on abortion is a harmful trap that has had, as its primary result, the delay of funding for health care and family planning."

An Oct. 9 editorial in the Austin American-Statesman noted that "withholding money for family planning services is more than arrogant -- it's cruel," particularly "in the context of "600,000 women around the world...[who] died last year from complications of pregnancy or inadequate reproductive health care." The Oct. 8 Kansas City Star noted that "the losers in this political fight last year were the poor women and families in Third World countries who did not get U.S. aid."

The Oct. 6 Boca Raton News (Boca Raton, FL) called on the President and Congress to fund international family planning programs and get rid of the gag rule because "this country has an obligation to share wealth and health-care expertise with those in this world with little or no access, and even less hope."

Editorials supporting international family planning funding and opposing the gag rule also appeared in the Oct. 13 Newsday (Long Island, NY), Oct. 13 Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and the Oct. 12 Tennessean (Nashville, TN).

The Oct. 13 Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN) printed an op-ed by CEDPA's Peggy Curlin that asks President Clinton to veto any bill that includes the global gag rule because it denies citizens in foreign countries "the right of free speech -- not by the edicts of their own country's policy, but by U.S. policies."

Letters to the editor supporting international family planning funding appeared in the Anchorage Daily News Oct. 14, Buffalo News Oct. 7, Chicago Sun-Times Oct. 5, Denver Post Oct. 12 and Seattle Times Oct. 7, many by Population Action International.

These are "interesting times to be thinking about international population issues," according to an Oct. 9 op-ed by former Population Council president Margaret Catley-Carlsen in the Dayton Daily News. She noted that the United States was "unquestionably the global leader in [population policy], until political change in the late 1990s shattered the bipartisan, centrist coalition in Congress, which maintained decades long support for international family planning programs."


The above analysis was written by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk at the Communications Consortium Media Center, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, 202/326-8700.

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