GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS
August 16 - 31, 2000
by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk
Communications Consortium Media Center,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005
COVERAGE OF REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS IN MEXICO
Media outlets continued to report on debates over reproductive rights and abortion in Mexico, following controversy around a restrictive abortion law passed in Guanajuato, the home state of Mexican president-elect Vicente Fox.
According to an Aug. 31 Associated Press story, a law making abortion in cases of rape illegal was passed by a Guanajuato state legislature dominated by Fox's conservative National Action Party (PAN), but was vetoed by that state's governor "after public opinion polls showed a majority of residents opposed it." Following the "uproar" after actions in Guanajuato, new laws in Mexico City and the Mexican state of Morelos have been approved by those legislatures, decriminalizing abortion in some cases. The AP also filed stories about these developments on Aug. 19 and 24.
An Aug. 24 Newsweek article noted that after the Guanajuato abortion restrictions were passed, "protests immediately broke out in several parts of the country." Newsweek also cited a recent newspaper poll in Mexico that found "two thirds of all Mexicans believe that abortion is a woman's right."
The Aug. 29 New York Times reported that Fox "has tried not to get pulled into the political storm in his home state by restating campaign pledges not to initiate any changes in the abortion laws after he takes office, even though he opposes abortion."
Agence France Presse reported Aug. 18 that official figures estimate around "1,500 women die in illegal abortions in Mexico" every year.
POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT LINKAGES
The Associated Press reported Aug. 23 on findings from a new Population Action International study on "People in the Balance," which concluded that "growth in the world's population is slowing, meaning pressure on natural resources such as drinking water and crop land will ease." The AP reported that "despite the slowdown...the world's population of more than 6 billion -- four times as many as were alive in 1900 -- still will double by 2050."
The Aug. 24 Christian Science Monitor reported that over the last 1,000 years, "industrialization, unprecedented population growth, and trade have shrunk the wilderness, devastated ecosystems, and now threaten the planet," in an article on humanity's environmental impact and environmentalist movements throughout history.
An Aug. 23 San Jose Mercury News article reported on a new $150 million environmental fund established by the World Bank, Conservation International and the Global Environmental Facility. The fund has been created to protect global "hot spots" and provide "realistic alternatives for poor people [to] relieve the growing pressures on the environment" in a world with a "current population of 6 billion [and that] is projected to hit 8 billion by 2025, with 97 percent of that growth in developing countries."
INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
An Aug. 21 Christian Science Monitor article profiled a new Kenyan radio soap opera sponsored by Population Communications International that is "aimed at getting people to talk more openly about social issues...such as family planning, AIDS, drug abuse, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage."
The New York Times printed an Aug. 22 interview with epidemiologist Dr. Nancy Padian, "one of the world's foremost experts on the heterosexual transmission of AIDS," who noted that the "chief weapon against HIV has been the barrier method of contraception." In addition, "in order for women to really negotiate sexual activity, it's important for them to be economically empowered."
In India, the Health Minister "told members of parliament...that India would not use 'coercive' methods to control its rapidly growing population," such as a proposed law "to bar people who have more than two children from standing for parliamentary and state legislative seats," according to an Aug. 21 Deutsche Presse-Agentur story. Instead, "India has now abolished targets for family planning service providers and switched to programmes within the larger context of reproductive health care."
OPINIONS & EDITORIALS
The Detroit Free Press called on the U.S. Congress to "dump the gag on family planning" in an Aug. 24 editorial. Mentioning the recently established global AIDS trust fund that "was enacted with strong bipartisan support in both houses" of Congress, the editorial urged Congress to "show a commitment not only to fighting AIDS but also to fighting for the health of women around the world" by "cut[ting] the global gag rule from family planning funding."
A letter to the editor in the Sept. 2000 Vanity Fair by Population Action International's Amy Coen commented on writer Christopher Hitchens' July article on "People Who Breed People," where he discussed current population policies around the world. Coen noted that "at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, some 180 nations agreed with economist Amartya Sen that coercion has no place in any population program," and that by contrast, "the more democratic and comprehensive approach champions women's education and access to information and to reproductive health care."
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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