Peruvian amendment to the constitution
The Peruvian Commission of Health, Family and Population has proposed an amendment to the constitution. The article states that human life begins at conception and gestation ends at birth. Abortion is to be allowed only under grave circumstances affecting the life of the mother. Abortion for other reasons is to be considered homicide.
Protest letters have been mailed by FORO Mujer, a group of six feminist centers in Peru. The letters complain that poor women will be victimized by the proposed constitutional provision, and predicts a consequent rise in the maternal mortality rate should the amendment pass (Peru: Letter from FORO Mujer).
Women’s health in the U.S.
In a report titled, Testing Positive: Sexually Transmitted Disease and the Public Health Response, Patricia Donovan, J.D., (Alan Guttmacher Institute) presents factual data concerning sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in U. S. women.
More than 1 million cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occur in American women every year. Annually, over 275,000 women, ages 15 to 44, are hospitalized for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) treatment, almost 160,000 undergo surgery and up to 30,000 women undergo hysterectomies due to PID.
Women who suffer from PID are six to ten times more likely to “experience a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy Almost half of the “88,000 ectopic pregnancies” that occur “are caused by STD infections and complications.” As a result of STDs which develop into PID, approximately 100,000–150,000 “American women become infertile every year.”
Human papilloma virus (HPV) “is associated with cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, and anus.” HPV is implicated in 5,000 deaths of women from cervical cancer in the United States each year. The annual incidence of “curable, non-viral STDs” includes 4 million cases of chlamydia; 3 million cases of trichomoniasis; 1.1 million cases of gonorrhea; 120,000 cam of syphilis (includes 40,000–50,000 cases of infectious syphilis); and 3,500 cases of chancroid.
Incurable viral STDs include 500,000 to 1 million cases of HPV (20 to 40 million people are believed infected with HPV); 200,000 to 500,000 cases of genital herpes (about 31 million Americans are believed to have genital herpes); 100,000 to 200,000 cases of Hepatitis B (1.5 million Americans carry the infection); and 40,000 cases of HIV (an estimated 1 million are infected) (Contraceptive Technology Update, vol. 14, no. 6, 89).
Santo Domingo-the Cardinal objects
Nicolas de Jesus Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez, the Archbishop of Santo Domingo and President of the Latin American Bishop‘s Council, has formally objected to U.S. President Bill Clinton‘s demolition of the “Mexico City Policy.” The U.S. “Mexico City Policy” prohibited the performance or promotion of abortion as a method of family planning (see PRI Review, “Special Report,” vol. 3 no. 2, Mar/Apr 1993, 9).
In a personal letter to President Clinton the Cardinal described the policy change as a “cause of great concern” since Latin American countries continue to be “under attack from these [international] organizations involved in killing the unborn and massively applying means of artificial birth control.” He continued, “…we do not concur with the policy which attempts to resolve the dire situation of poverty that afflicts Latin America by imposing a culture of death” (Letter from Nicolas de Jesus Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez to President Bill Clinton, 26 March 1993).
Two child ‘norm’
The U.S.-funded Population Council follows the World Bank in its analysis of women as ‘productive units’ in society. As a ‘productive unit’ (not a reproductive unit !) which produces profit in the marketplace, women must limit their families to two children in order to reach the heights of their commercial value. Therefore, Francine Coeytaux, “a noted writer and researcher of the Population Council” estimates that 70 percent of women need at least one abortion during their lives if they are to restrict their fertility to two children. Ms. Coeytaux insists that induced abortion plays a critical role in family planning and fertility reduction plans since ‘contraception is still far from ideal.’ (The San Juan Star, “Abortion Legal But Deadly in Bangladesh,” 16 November 1992).
Australia medical students barred from courses
The University of Sydney has sent a letter to students in medicine, dentistry and nursing notifying them that they will be unable to complete their courses if they are HIV-positive or have hepatitis. Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), however, claimed the letter breached its guidelines which “recommended against screening medical and dental students for hepatitis and HIV.”
The national president of the Australian Federation of AIDS organizations, Bill Bowtell, said, “There is no basis for [this decision] in science or medicine.” The question has been raised if whether the guidelines will violate a federal law due to come into force shortly which “will make it unlawful to discriminate against someone who is HIV-positive” (“Sydney HIV students told they may not graduate,” Reuter, 15 Jan. 1993).
Pakistan increases population program
According to a government official, Pakistan plans on spending US$300 million over the next five years to curb the birth rate. Mushtaq Malik, population welfare secretary for central Punjab province is reported as saying, “Realizing the serious threat of alarming population growth rate in the country, the federal government has allocated an amount of nine billion rupees to create awareness among the people about this population explosion? He indicated that the new allocation is three times the amount in the current five-year plan. The increased monies are intended to reduce the growth rate to 2.5 per cent by 1998. “Otherwise,” said Malik, [population] will devour the fruits of development” (“Pakistan to spend $300 million on birth control,” Reuter, Islamabad, 19 March 1993)
Meet a fetal tissue entrepreneur:
A government-funded fetal tissue bank was set up at the Russian International Institute of Biological Medicine, “to research and provide human fetal tissue transplant operations for a wide range of diseases.” Michael Molnar, a U.S. plastic surgeon from Hollywood, as the “organizing spirit” of the venture, began the program with “a group of Russian consultants at the Centre for Perinatology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Moscow.”
He described the Russian “advantage over the West,” as access to fetal tissue: “Here we already have enough tissue to treat 400 to 600 patients.” After 74 years of the communists’ official atheistic policies, “Russians are less likely to raise moral objections,” said Molnar. Further, “[R]esearch is cheap and the government has placed the Centre for Perinatology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the project’s disposal.”
The project was set up as “a Russian joint — stock company” with “the backing” of the Ministry of Health. “This is just the beginning,” crowed Molnar. “If all goes well this could be one of the major centres in the world for human fetal transplant research and treatment” (Fiona Fleck, “Russians start human fetal transplant operations…,” Reuter 21 Mar. 1993).
High court ruling in Germany
The highest court in Germany ruled that the right to life begins at the moment of conception. The decision was opposed by “liberals and women’s groups” who “‘accused the high court of patronizing women and predicted back-alley abortions.”
The court, however, said that health insurance could still pay for abortions for rape, life of the mother and in the case of defective children. Health insurance payments can no longer pay for abortions for the “size of the family or its income” until new legislation is passed (“German court rules…,” The Miami Herald, 29 May 1993).
Resistance in Tanzania
Although surveys show that 72 percent of the women and 78 percent of the men know at least one method of family planning, actual birth control use ranges “from 25 percent in Kilimanjaro, northeastern part of the country to only one percent in Shinyanga in the remote Lake Victoria zone.”
A high number of women discontinue the use of contraceptives, according to the U.N. Children‘s Fund (UNICEF). Tanzania’s contraceptive prevalence rate is therefore just one percent. The U.N. Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the government “hope the 1992 to 1996 third five-year population program” will “convert” more people to accept “modem family planning methods.”
“In some cases, when clients challenge service providers on rumors about side effects, quite often the experts fail to offer simple scientific explanation,” said Dr. Pascal Balampama, the Dar es Salaam city council medical officer (“Many Tanzania reportedly still lack…,” IPS, Dar es Salaam, 5 April 1993). ‘
‘Information, education, communication’ (IEC) in Trinidad and Tobago
The National AIDS Committee (NAC) of Trinidad and Tobago broadcast a six-part soap opera on national television. Horace Wilson, author, producer and director, “a leading Caribbean playwright,” has produced the AIDS soap opera, “Tangled Lives.” The AIDS program is considered persuasive because it is “culturally correct,” that is, “well-grounded in the sociocultural reality of Caribbean life.” The family‘s story is accompanied by “music, laughter and sadder emotions” as the television audience is shown the social dimensions and medical realities of AIDS (National AIDS Programme, Trinidad and Tobago).
Euthanasia case in Canada
Sue Rodriguez wants to die. She is a victim of amytrophic lateral sclerosis and has from one to 13 months to live. Canadians fear that her case could become the “open sesame” to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Canada. The Canadian Supreme Court, which has agreed to review her case, has not yet rendered a decision. Twice, the courts in British Columbia have rejected Rodriguez’ bid for assistance in ending her life. New Democrat Ian Waddell has said that “even if Rodriquez is turned down by the Canadian highest court, other cases will be brought “until action is taken to allow …death with dignity” (Ottawa Stan, 23 March 1993).
Chinese risk lives fleeing China
Illegal immigrants have been arriving from China on dilapidated, rusting freighters and fishing boats. Living conditions on the vessels are primitive and filthy. U.S. Coast Guard figures show that about 2,000 illegal Chinese immigrants have arrived this year. Immigration officials believe that “there are several dozen of these ships on the high seas” now. The immigrants are believed to have paid $1,000 up front. They then expect to work as “indentured servants” until they pay off amounts up to $20,000 or $30,000 (Adrian Croft, “Chinese risk lives for opportunities…, Reuter, 7 June).
U.S. health plan to include abortion rights
New U.S. health care plans are expected to “include liberal abortion rights.” Mrs. Hilary Rodham Clinton, the president’s wife and head of the task force., has said that the plan would include a conscience clause allowing providers to refuse to perform”1 abortions (“Headlines,” British Medical Journal, no. 6890, vol. 306, 1432).
Ireland and the condom machine
The land of the shamrocks has become the land of the condoms…and it could become the land of the AIDS victim. Irish lawmakers voted to make condoms available in vending machines in the Emerald Isle. Condoms provide a “last resort” method in populations who are exposed to the HIV virus. “The government supported the change to help prevent AIDS” (“Ireland-condoms,” Reuter, 4 June 1993).
In the meantime, David G. Collart, Ph.D., a U.S. biochemist and molecular biologist, points out that studies show “after 5,10, and 20 years of sexual activity one would have had a 67 percent, 89 percent, and 98 percent chance of becoming infected with HIV respectively” due to a lack of condom efficacy. Canada denies approval of Depo-Provera: Canadian officials denied approval of Depo-Provera because of “concerns over long term effects? JoAnne Ford, speaking for the Canadian Department of Health and Welfare said, “For the use of contraception, which is a long term usage, we still have outstanding questions about safety” (“Canada denies approval of Depo-Provera…” UPn, 2 June 1993).
China’s favorable trade status renewed by Clinton
Unconditional Most Favored Nation trade status was granted to China by U.S. President Bill Clinton. Further renewal, however, is dependent on “human rights, Tibet policy and other areas” (“Clinton renews…,” Reuter, 28 May 1993).
Clinton “Balancing the Bench”
“A January 1992 National Journal article projected the possibility of five vacancies in the next four years on the Supreme Court. President Clinton has 100 other vacancies on the federal bench to fill, including several critical seats on the federal appellate courts. Legal experts estimate that over the next four years at least another 150 seats on the federal bench will become vacant.
“Through their current control of Congress and the presidency, the Democrats in Congress could create new seats…that is especially significant, given that the federal courts of appeals for the 13 circuits are, for most litigants, the courts of last resort. Whereas the Supreme Court rules on fewer than 100 cases in an average term and took even fewer cases in its current term, the appellate courts hear approximately 40,000 cases annually.
“Clinton currently must fill at least 16 vacancies on the circuit courts and 84 on the district courts: The DC Circuit; the 4th Circuit (MD, VA, WV, NC, SC); the 5th Circuit (TX, MS, LA); the 10th Circuit (WY, UT, AZ, NM, CO, KS, OK); and the 11th Circuit (AL, FL, GA) all have vacancies. In addition, the following states have vacancies on their district courts: TX, NY, CA, OH, FL, IL, and LA, as well as DC.” (American Association of University Women, Outlook, vol. 87, no. 2, 1993).
No rations for fourth children in Iran
The Council of Ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran approved the following measures at its 28 April 1991 meeting:
“All government organizations and foundations are under the obligation to amend their regulations and instructions so that any privilege extended to the fourth and subsequent children of the same family be revoked and canceled. Cancellation of such privileges applies to the fourth and subsequent children born one year after the publication of this Decree. Such children after the expiration of the above term shall not be entitled to coupons for rationed food and other basic merchandise. All Decrees providing for any privilege on the basis of children or dependents are hereby cancelled so far as they apply to the fourth and more children of the same family” (Library of Congress Law Division, World Law Bulletin, 20 March 1992, 8–9, citing Iran’s Official Gazette, no. 13504, 24 July 1991).
U.S. National Institutes of Health ignores vasectomy/prostrate cancer link
A committee of experts convened at the U.S. National Institute of Health recommends current clinical practice regarding vasectomy remain unchanged in spite of recent studies linking vasectomy with prostrate cancer. The scientific experts attending the meeting recommended that providers “continue to perform vasectomies, after obtaining informed consent concerning risks.” Nevertheless, “Almost all the available studies point to an increased risk of prostrate cancer in men who have had their vasectomies for over 20 years.”
Family planning providers were advised by Contraceptive Technology Update on how to “make vasectomy services more available and more appealing” in spite of the “negative press.” Public managers are to make vasectomy services convenient and more comfortable for men; emphasize accurate, respectful, and empathetic information and counseling information; and remove barriers to “rigid eligibility requirements and requirements for multiple visits, lab tests and spousal consent.”
Sterilization patients at the offices of Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona who ask about vasectomy reversals as a result of the new studies will be told “that both the American Medical Association and the Association for Voluntary Contraceptive Sterilization are discouraging such action.” At the Sanger Center in Warren, Michigan (an outpost for surgical services run by Planned Parenthood of Detroit) “when counseling prospective vasectomy clients — who mostly come from the local indigent population — the possible link between vasectomy and prostrate cancer is not mentioned .… “ (Contraceptive Technology Update, vol. 14, no. 5, May 1993, 72).
Court decision in Bogota, Colombia
The constitutional court of Bogota, Colombia, has held that children are persons from the moment of conception throughout the gestational period and therefore entitled to the provision of essential needs.
The court recognized the family as the nucleus of society and, in cases where the paternity of the child is legally recognized, the court held the father responsible for 50 percent of the Costs associated with the birth and hospital care for the child (“Ninos en gestacio ‘si son personas,” Van Guardia, 12 May 1993).