GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS
April 1 - 15, 2000
by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk
Communications Consortium Media Center,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING
President Clinton was joined at the White House on April 7 by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and James Greenwood (R-PA), and CEDPA Nigerian Country Director Enyantu Ifenne at a World Health Day event on the importance of international family planning for women's health. The remarks focused on restoring U.S. support for these programs and followed a Congressional Forum on "Saving Women's Lives through International Family Planning," which was held the day before.
Media including The Washington Post, Associated Press, Knight Ridder, Reuters and United Press International reported on the events. The story also appeared throughout April 7 and 8 on CNN and CNN Headline News, and appeared on local broadcast stations in Atlanta, Nashville, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and West Palm Beach. The event was broadcast live on-line by MSNBC.com and appeared on a number of Web sites, including CNN.com and HEALTH24NEWS.com.
The April 8 Washington Post reported that Clinton "wants Congress to raise family planning assistance to 1995 levels...unhindered by a 'global gag rule' that prohibits discussion of abortion." The April 7 Associated Press
story noted Clinton asked: "How, in the name of democracy and freedom, can we impose those rules on others which would be illegal here in the United States?" United Press International mentioned that "U.S. contributions to international family planning have declined by more than 30 percent since 1995."
Most of the stories included current maternal and child health figures, including the April 7 Reuters story that reported "nearly 600,000 women die each year from preventable pregnancy-related ailments, according to USAID, and one in four maternal deaths can be prevented."
OTHER STORIES ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND FAMILY PLANNING
Time magazine reported April 17 on maternal morality in Rwanda. The story noted that in Rwanda, "becoming pregnant is tantamount to a death sentence" because of "numerous factors including nonexistent prenatal care, malnourishment and unsanitary delivery conditions."
National Public Radio's All Things Considered broadcast an April 3 segment on family planning programs in Iran, where "birthrates have dropped from 5.2 children per woman in 1989 to about 2.5 today" because of government programs providing free access to a variety of methods for married couples, and educational campaigns stressing the economic and health benefits of smaller families.
The New York Times reported April 14 on a rural "population boom" in China, noting that families have avoided the one-child policy "in part because the family planning system has largely put an end to the coercive techniques of the past" and "the relative opening of Chinese society has also diminished the system's effect."
NEWS ABOUT ABORTION ISSUES
The April 6 Washington Post reported on the U.S. House of Representatives' vote "to ban a controversial form of late-term abortion" that "opponents call 'partial birth' abortions." The story noted that "thirty-one states have passed partial birth abortion bans, and in 20 of them, federal courts have blocked the laws with either permanent injunctions or temporary restraining orders." The article also noted that the Supreme Court is scheduled later this month to hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of a Nebraska law outlawing the procedure.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
In Sierra Leone, "thousands [of women] were raped by insurgent forces and other armed gangs during the nation's eight-year civil war," according to an April 11 cover story in The Washington Post. The story reported that "the rebels may still hold thousands of women in remote strongholds despite the fact that the peace accord required them to free all captive civilians." The systematic rape of women in Sierra Leone reached international attention after women began telling their stories in reproductive health classes offered by the International Rescue Committee.
OPINIONS & EDITORIALS
The President's and senior U.S. policymakers' statements supporting international family planning prompted a number of editorials and opinion pieces. The April 12 Daily Camera (Boulder, Co.) called on its readers to "call their representatives and senators and ask that they support legislation to increase funding for family planning programs overseas" because "the inability to plan a family has far-reaching consequences for mothers, children, families and communities."
An April 6 Washington Post editorial urged Congress to "ungag family planning." Judy Mann's April 7 Washington Post column stated that "women's health programs have become pawns in the nasty game between the Clinton administration and the right-wing abortion foes who control the House of Representatives," in a world where "as many as 50 million [women] suffer health problems following childbirth, many of which could be prevented with low-cost safe motherhood practices offered in international reproductive health programs."
The Washington Post also published an April 5 Judy Man column that highlighted results of a RAND study on American attitudes on world population issues. In it she noted that "support for funding voluntary family planning programs overseas was high, with 80 percent in favor and 18 percent opposed."
The House of Representatives vote to ban so-called "partial-birth" abortion was labeled "electioneering" by the April 7 New York Times, "unconstitutional and certainly bad policy" by the April 5 Washington Post, and "born out of opportunism," by the April 11 Atlanta Journal and Constitution.
Scripps Howard News Service carried an April 13 commentary by columnist John Madeley that highlighted the "gross inequality of water consumption [that] exists in the developed and developing world," where adequate clean water is not available to "half of the world population of 6 billion." He calls on increased political will "to give water and sanitation the priority it needs."
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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