Communications Consortium Media Center Communications Consortium Media Center


July 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



On July 14, the New York Times did a special piece outlining the debate on the foreign aid bill and the global 'gag rule.' "By a vote of 221 to 206, the House defeated an amendment to a $13.3 billion foreign aid bill that would have removed the gag rule restrictions. The limitations had been attached to the foreign aid measure last year as part of a one-year compromise worked out by the White House and Congressional Republicans to end a stalemate over the federal budget." The Times reported that the House "has set the stage for a reprise of last year's battle over the financing of international family planning."

A July 14 Chicago Tribune story on the passage of the foreign aid bill noted that the House also "rejected an amendment that would have scrapped a restrictive provision prohibiting U.S. funding for any non-governmental group that performs, promotes or advocates abortions overseas as part of a family planning program," in a vote of 221-206.

The July 10 Christian Science reported the "annual ritual" involving a feud over international family planning funding between the White House and Congress. Groups advocating more money for family planning aid estimated that the full $541 million would affect "4.3 million women who would not have unintended pregnancies," thus resulting in "1.5 million fewer unintended births, 2.2 million fewer abortions, 500,000 fewer miscarriages and 8,000 fewer deaths from unsafe abortions each year."

A July/August article from Foreign Affairs argued that the foreign affairs budget needs to generate consensus on funding the "nonmilitary components of national security," including programs to slow population growth and provide access to reproductive health and international family planning.

The on-line magazine Women's E-News ran a July 6 story on the global gag rule, reporting that "cuts in family planning funding could result in 260,000 unwanted pregnancies; 9,400 maternal and infant deaths; 7,400 cases of serious illness or injury related to childbirth and more than 100,000 additional abortions."



A July 11 Associated Press story reported on a new public awareness campaign in which "leading women's, children's and environmental groups have joined one of America's richest foundations to spread the message that family planning is the key to saving the lives of mothers, children and planet Earth." The new PLANet campaign, funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, "will use television, newspaper and magazine advertisements to mobilize public support" and spend "$13 million in its first year." Non-governmental partners involved in the campaign include Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Audubon Society, Population Action International, Save the Children, CARE and Communications Consortium Media Center. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution also reported on the campaign July 13, "Marilyn Grist, CARE's senior vice president for external relations, said nearly 600,000 women die every year of pregnancy-related causes and that 99 percent of those deaths occur in the developing world. She said she hopes PLANet will help Americans learn that the "basic --- yet universal --- health needs of the world's mothers can be met."

A July 14 Washington Post commentary by columnist Judy Mann, "Proclaiming the Wonders of Family Planning," focused on the new PLANet education campaign that seeks to "stress the link between family planning and the welfare of children, families and the environment." Mann noted "there are 150 million people who want contraception but who don't have access to it." Such access is "a right we take for granted in most of the developed world," she said.

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Media outlets nationwide published hundreds of stories on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the days leading up to the XIII International AIDS Conference, held July 9-14 in Durban, South Africa.

Most notably, The Washington Post ran a three-part series July 5-7 focusing on the lack of response by policymakers early in the AIDS crisis. The July 5 Post article reported that despite the World Health Organization's 1990 and 1991 AIDS death toll projections of "tens of millions by 2000, individually and collectively, most of those with power decided not to act," including UN agencies and U.S. policymakers.

The July 11 USA TODAY discussed the disease's effect on Africa's demographic structure, citing U.S. Census Bureau projections that by 2010, "life expectancy will be 29 in Botswana, 30 in Swaziland and 33 in Namibia and Zimbabwe, whereas without AIDS, it would have been 70." The UNAIDS agency reported by 2000, "55% of all HIV infections were in women," and by 2020, "the gender balance could be 60% male to 40% female among people of childbearing ages in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa."

USA TODAY also reported July 12 on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's nearly $50 million contribution for AIDS-related grants, half of which will go to research that could protect women against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Many stories focused on the 16 million AIDS orphans whose situation is detailed in the new UN report, Children on the Brink 2000; the lack of availability of AIDS drugs in Africa and in other developing regions; the controversy over South African President Thabo Mbeki's skepticism on HIV's link to AIDS; and the effectiveness of current prevention efforts around the world.



A July 11 Agence France Presse story reported on World Population Day and population trends in India, "a country struggling to rein in a population which, at current growth rates, will top two billion some time in the latter half of the next century." Agence France Presse also reported July 11 on population trends in Pakistan, which is "the seventh most populated country although in terms of human development it ranks 138th," and Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf's warning that "population growth threatened the country's economic progress."

Elsewhere, Xinhua General News Service on July 11 quoted U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as saying, "The challenge ahead of us is clear: to find ways to support all of the world's people in peace and dignity, and to ensure that people - especially women - are able to make informed decisions about the size of their families."



A July 4 United Press International article reported that "a report on 'megacities,' those that are now home to 2.5 billion people and forecast 5 billion by 2025, says urban leaders must take radical steps to control poverty, pollution and overpopulation." A July 12 Associated Press article predicted that the millions of migrants to Mumbai, India, will change that city from "the world's fifth most populated city today to the second by 2015."

Agence France Presse reported July 14 on the easing of China's one-child policy and quoted U.S. Undersecretary of State Frank E. Loy, who emphasized that "choice and education are the keywords for the new measures being introduced in the world's most populous nation."



A July 10 InterPress Service article reported that "local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Mexico, the 11th most populous country in the world, are worried that the nation's socially conservative new government will erode reproductive health and family planning programs."

The July 1 New York Times reported that the French Council of State overruled a decision that allowed the distribution of emergency contraception in schools, arguing that "the pill was in the category of drugs that could present a danger if not used under medical supervision."



The July 12 Washington Times reported the House vote in favor of maintaining the permanent observer status of the Holy See at the United Nations. The article noted that "a coalition of 70 organizations, led by Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice, began a drive early last year to reduce the influence of the Vatican in the United Nations," and that "at least 300 more organizations, including Planned Parenthood and Republicans for Choice, have since signed the anti-Vatican petition."



A July 4 editorial in The Courier-Journal (Louisville KY) criticized the gag rule's restrictions on international family planning aid. "This is a provision that is as short-sighted as it is self-righteous, one that, if implemented within our own boarders, would be judged unconstitutional - violating both a women's right to choose and the free speech rights and professional obligations of providers."

By contrast, Heritage Foundation researcher Patrick Fagan's July 13 commentary in The Washington Times about domestic family planning proclaimed "President Clinton wants to throw away more money - $2.5 billion over the next decade - to prop up America's morally bankrupt family planning programs."

The Record (Bergen County N.J.) published a July 11 letter to the editor, "Diffusing the Population Bomb," by Bonnie Tillery, population coordinator-N.J. of The Sierra Club. Tillery noted that World Population Day "is a day to think about the impact that more than 6 billion people have on our planet" and "to support international family planning and reproductive health programs that give people the chance to choose smaller and healthier families."

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. If you would like your name to be added to their email service, please e-mail your request to [email protected].


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