GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS
August 1 - 15, 2000
by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk
Communications Consortium Media Center,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS IN MEXICO
Media outlets across the United States reported on debates over reproductive rights and abortion policy in Mexico following the election of Vicente Fox to the Mexican presidency in July. Cox News Service reported Aug. 9 that "members of Fox's National Action Party, or PAN, in his home state of Guanajuato voted to amend the state's criminal code to include jail time for women who seek abortions after being raped." The story said opponents "fear others in PAN, which captured more state and federal congressional seats in the last election, will pursue similar amendments on abortion."
The Aug. 6 Washington Post noted the emerging role of the Catholic Church in Mexican politics, which is "fundamentally changing with the election of the country's most openly religious president in nearly a century." The Aug. 11 Los Angeles Times reported that "Fox has insisted...that he doesn't plan to introduce constitutional changes on abortion," but opponents view the abortion restrictions in Guanajuato as "the first salvo in a crusade by Fox's [party] to impose its Roman Catholic beliefs on a country that has rigorously separated church from state."
The Aug. 14 Dallas Morning News reported that the "new law aimed at jailing rape victims who have abortions has backfired, triggering instead a movement to liberalize Mexico's abortion laws, many of them untouched since the 1930s." The Aug. 14 Chicago Tribune and Christian Science Monitor, and Aug. 4 Associated Press also reported on the controversy.
GLOBAL POPULATION TRENDS
On Aug. 14, the Associated Press reported that experts at the 10th annual Stockholm Water Symposium warned "that demand from a fast-growing world population was reducing rivers to a trickle and threatening agriculture."
Findings from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization predict that "the world has the resources and the know-how to feed its rapidly growing population over the next century - yet it is almost certain that half a billion people will go hungry and many millions will starve to death," according to an Aug. 11 story by Agence France Presse.
Agence France Presse also reported Aug. 10 that "having broken through the six billion threshold in the closing weeks of the 20th century," the world still faces many "dangers [that] lurk, including social and economic strains caused by an aging and declining population in many regions." By contrast, Agence France Presse reported Aug. 10 that "Ethiopia's population is growing by nearly three percent annually," which could "pose a serious challenge...in terms of providing adequate health and education services, along with employment and housing."
Xinhua General News Service reported Aug. 6 that "when the world's population hits 9 billion by the middle of the new century...Bangladesh is likely to be crammed with 210.8 million people," according to figures from the Population Reference Bureau's 2000 World Population Data Sheet.
INTERNATIONAL ABORTION NEWS
An Aug. 1 Associated Press story reported that each year, "some 300,000 Thai women, many of them teen-agers, have abortions to end unwanted pregnancies even though the procedure is illegal under most circumstances," according to the Thai NGO Health system Research Institution.
Agence France Presse reported Aug. 2 that "the level of mortality among pregnant women in Africa was estimated to be 680 for every 100,000 abortions: twice as high as in the developed world." The high rate of abortion-related deaths in Africa is due to "its illegality in many African countries, leading to a lack of access to competent medical practitioners; and a lack of proper post-operative care for women after an abortion," according to a recent study by France's Centre for the Study of Population and Development.
In Kenya, "many gynecologists are calling for legalisation of abortion" because "abortion is among the top five major causes of maternal mortality" in that country, according to an Aug. 3 article in The Nation (Nairobi).
The Aug. 4 Christian Science Monitor reported that "twenty-five years after France first legalized abortion...the government has proposed the first major changes to the legislation" under a proposal that "would extend the time limit for most abortions from the current 10 weeks to the 12th week of pregnancy."
FAMILY PLANNING AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
"Public health experts are struggling to decide how to advise millions of women worldwide who use products containing a contraceptive chemical that may increase the risk for acquiring the AIDS virus," the August 14 Washington Post reported, noting that a "study of 990 prostitutes in four countries found...a gel containing nonoxynol-9 apparently made women more vulnerable to the AIDS virus."
An Aug. 14 USA Today article featured a new report on oral contraceptive use by Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs. The story noted that oral contraceptives are 99.9 percent effective if taken correctly, but worldwide "more than 10 million of the 106 million women expected to go on the pill this year will get pregnant" due to inconsistent or discontinued use.
Africa News Service reported Aug. 14 that worldwide, "between 85 and 115 million women and girls have undergone Female Genital Mutilation" and that "every year about two million females are at risk of being mutilated," according to a World Health Organization report. The Aug. 1 Vanguard Daily (Lagos) reported that "most of the girls and women who have undergone genital mutilation live in 28 African countries, although some live in Asia and the Middle East," and that they are also "increasingly found in Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA, primarily among immigrants from the countries."
InterPress Service reported Aug. 10 that "the number of Indonesians using birth control has actually increased, leading to a decline in the country's fertility and population growth rates."
New contraceptive pills for men being tested in China "stopped sperm production in 90 percent of men who took it," according to an Aug. 1 Associated Press story. The Xinhua News Agency also reported on the story Aug. 1.
The Associated Press reported Aug. 14 that Marie Stopes International is publicizing a "new cross-channel 'vasectomy tourism service'" to men in France, where the procedure is "technically illegal" because of a "200-year-old Napoleonic law prohibiting self-mutilation." The story was also reported Aug. 13 by Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Aug. 14 by Agence France Presse, and Aug. 15 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND CHINA
A feature article in the August Jane magazine focused on China's "population control" policies toward Tibetans, including "mandatory contraception and coercive or forced sterilization...and abortion." The story noted that "for the record, China has long denied the routine practice of forced sterilization or abortion" but that "the U.S. State Department's 1999 report on China cites its abysmal human-rights record and claims that forced abortion and sterilization are, in fact, common in Tibet."
OPINIONS & EDITORIALS
The Aug. 8 Chicago Tribune published a column by writer William Pfaff that argued current U.S. foreign policy consists of a "program of global interference" that includes "keeping order, heading off conflicts between other major countries, making secure the resources needed by all the industrial world and generally guiding world affairs." He calls "meddlesome" such policies as "seek[ing] to reduce tensions between India and China" and "fund[ing] family-planning programs overseas."
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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