It long over due for legal and policy (federal, state or local) decisions made that only affect the female sex to be proposed and decided upon by women only. Given that women are the only ones who can know what it means to opperate and survive in the real world with female genetalia, it is time for men to step down and stop making wholesale decisions about what should be against the law for women.
Tuesday is International Women's Day, a worldwide celebration of women's fight for equality and human rights. In light of this commemoration, it is especially disappointing that the Bush administration is working so hard to restrict women's rights.
Ten years ago, a landmark U.N. conference in Beijing adopted a platform seeking to establish global equality for women. Along with recommendations on issues such as domestic violence and education, the platform states women should be able to "decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality ... free of coercion, discrimination and violence." It also asserts that abortion should be safe in places where it is legal and criminal charges should not be filed against women who undergo illegal abortion...
...Only 8 percent of women in Ethiopia have access to contraception, according to Population Action International. They have little or no control over when or whether they will have sex and repeatedly face unplanned pregnancies. They bear, on average, seven children. The maternal mortality rate is among the worst in the world. Rates of sexually transmitted infections are extremely high. The World Bank reports that more than 2 million Ethiopian women have HIV/AIDS.
Those rates are worsening because of the Bush administration's position on women. In 2001, President Bush reinstated the global gag rule restricting funding for family planning. Under the gag rule, family planning agencies that receive U.S. money may not offer abortion counsel or refer women to abortion providers, or lobby to make or keep abortion legal in their own country, even if they use separate funds not provided by the United States. Providers are forced to make a cruel choice: Give up vital assistance and try to afford to continue to counsel women on all pregnancy options, or withhold critically important information.
The gag rule restricts the simplest ways to improve the status of women: funding birth-control supplies so they can avoid unintended pregnancies and care for children they already have. In Ethiopia, abortion is illegal. Because most nongovernmental organizations that provide family planning have refused to abide by the gag rule, the resulting lack of U.S. funds has restricted the contraceptive supply, which means that abortion is also very common. Women take their lives into their own hands when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. If they cannot adequately care for another child, they try to end pregnancies with herbs, poisons or wire. Complications from unsafe abortions are the second leading cause of death for women, after tuberculosis, in Ethiopia.
As long as the Bush administration restricts women's rights by blocking access to contraception with the gag rule, unintended pregnancies will occur. So will abortion. The Bush administration's global gag rule and political posturing last week only exacerbate the situation. Women in all countries should have the right to make responsible decisions without coercion, discrimination or violence. They should have access to comprehensive information and health care. They should be able to own property, pursue an education, decide who and when to marry, and whether and when to have children...
...Rather than taking into account the harsh realities of women's lives and working to provide real solutions for women and girls, the Bush administration is playing politics with women's lives.