GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS
June22 - 30, 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
GLOBAL POPULATION COVERAGE
Trends during "A Thousand Years of World Population" were outlined June 22 in The Christian Science Monitor. The article chronicled the world's rapid population growth stemming from a "dramatic drop in mortality in the 20th century," and followed by "demographic transition" in many regions as fertility rates declined and growth slowed. Noting that "like a speeding train slowing population growth can be difficult," the article emphasized that continued declines in fertility rates "will require a sea change in attitudes in large swaths of the world," and that "the trick is to offer women access not only to family planning but to means of empowerment."
A July Vanity Fair article on "People Who Breed People" discussed population policies in a world of six billion. The article was mixed, pitting Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich's "doomsday predictions" against Cambridge economist Amartya Sen, who "cautions against population-explosion panic." The story did emphasize that "women must be educated and empowered" and "given access to literacy and health care and the job market" to slow population growth.
"Running Dry," a July Harper's magazine cover story on water consumption and world population growth, reported that "many of the most populous countries-China, India, Pakistan, and Mexico-have severely mismanaged their groundwater." It gave examples throughout the story of human impacts on water supply.
NEWS ABOUT FAMILY PLANNING
The Associated Press reported June 27 that a U.S. House committee "refused to ease international abortion restrictions included in a $13.3 billion foreign aid bill." The House Appropriations Committee "rejected a Democrat-led effort to end limits on U.S. support for international family planning organizations that advocate abortion rights."
An editorial board visit by National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association Executive Director Judith DeSarno resulted in a June 23 Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) story on international family planning funding and the "global gag rule." The Press-Enterprise reported that Representatives Mary Bono and Jerry Lewis, both Republicans from California, were "swing votes" on international family planning. However, the article also cited Rep. Bono's communications director as indicating that "although Bono supports giving grant money to some domestic planning services, she opposes using federal money to pay for abortions or to fund international planning services."
The Associated Press ran a June 28 story on Rep. Todd Tiahrt's (R-KS) 1998 amendment to the foreign aid bill legislating that "no U.S. money may be spent on any government or organization that supports or runs 'a population program that is not voluntary.'" The AP reported that "family planning agencies and advocates have viewed the language as a solution in search of a problem," and quoted a Planned Parenthood spokesperson as saying that Rep. Tiahrt "probably has a 100 percent voting record of working to undermine family planning programs."
In Argentina, the government passed a reproductive health bill "aimed at preventing unwanted pregnancies and deaths from botched abortions," according to a June 23 InterPress Service story. Agence France Presse reported June 24 that the "Law on Reproductive Health and Responsible Procreation" gives women "free hospital access to a gynecologist, to contraceptive advice, and to check-ups for uterine and mammary cancers," in addition to "free family planning advice to teenagers."
In France, "school nurses can no longer hand out the controversial morning-after pill, which prevents pregnancy," according to a June 30 Associated Press story. The French Council of State invalidated a December decree by the Education Ministry that allowed junior and senior high school nurses to prescribe emergency contraception "in exceptional cases and only if a doctor or family planning center could not be reached immediately."
The Associated Press reported June 23 that the International Planned Parenthood Federation "urged Pope John Paul II...to ease the Roman Catholic church's opposition to birth control and abortion." The story mentioned the See Change campaign spearheaded by Catholics for a Free Choice that is "challeng[ing] the Vatican's observer status at the United Nations." Reuters also reported on the story June 23.
STENBERG V. CARHART
Media outlets across the country reported on the June 28 U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision striking down a Nebraska state law banning so-called "partial birth" abortions and affecting similar laws in 30 other states. It was "the court's most important word on abortion in eight years," according to a June 28 Associated Press story.
The June 29 New York Times reported that the decision "was analytically broader than many people expected, finding fault not with the law's concededly imprecise language, but with the absence of an exception for women's health." The June 29 Washington Post reported that the "bitterly divided Supreme Court" and its decision "are certain to inflame the political debate over abortion, renew efforts in some state legislatures to enact limits on some abortion procedures that conform to the high court ruling and focus attention on the makeup of the Supreme Court during this year's presidential election." The June 29 Los Angeles Times also reported that "the outcome made clear that the justices remain at war over abortion and that the future of abortion rights likely depends on who wins the fall presidential election."
OPINIONS & EDITORIALS
An editorial in the June 26 Seattle Post-Intelligencer urged members of Congress to "make one very American gesture" before the July Fourth holiday: "lift the gag order imposed last year on family-planning agencies in developing countries that get U.S. aid." The Post-Intelligencer stated that "America helps itself by helping people elsewhere make wise choices about planning," noting that "one billion people are entering their prime reproductive years, as the largest childbearing generation in history."
A June 30 Washington Post column by Judy Mann about U.S. restrictions on international family planning funding asked readers to "consider what would happen if Congress appropriated $100 million for domestic family planning services but prohibited any of that money from going to a nongovernmental organization that uses private funds to advocate for or against abortion rights." Mann argued that "thanks to the antiabortion forces that control the U.S. House of Representatives, we are using foreign aid to bludgeon nongovernmental organizations overseas into silence in their internal abortion debates," rather than "lending a hand to the world's poorest countries in a way that Americans could be proud of." She noted that President Clinton "has asked for an increase in spending on international family planning of $169 million over the current fiscal year," and cited figures from Population Action International's Sally Ethelston that show "92 percent of Americans supported the idea that people should be able to plan their families and three-quarters...believe this is something we should help pay for in developing countries."
A June 28 Judy Mann column in The Washington Post highlighted the Girls Primary Education Project run by CARE in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in India, where currently only 20 percent of girls and women are literate. The project operates over 130 schools, emphasizing girls education. "If you educate the girls, you affect the whole community because you give them the ability to understand social interaction, health," and other life skills, Mann said.
Dozens of newspapers printed editorials and opinion columns after the Supreme Court decision on Stenberg v. Carhart that found a Nebraska state law on so-called "partial birth" abortions unconstitutional, including the Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, Indianapolis Star, Oregonian, Record (Bergen County, NJ), San Diego Union-Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Seattle Times, New York Times, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Washington Times, among others. Many editorials and op-eds highlighted the importance of the upcoming presidential election in determining future rulings on abortion, given the narrow division within the current court on this issue.
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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