In its annual report released on November 14th, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) declared that it will now consider contraception a global human right. The report, titled "The State of World Population 2012: By Choice, Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development," conveys the basic message that contraception is a "human right" and is essential to the "sustainable development" of nations.The report insists that legal, cultural and financial barriers to accessing contraception and other family planning methods infringe upon women's human rights.
Currently 222 million women in developing countries have little to no access to family planning. UNFPA believes that an additional $4.1 billion is needed to provide for current family planning resources. UNFPA estimates that maternal and newborn health costs would decrease by $11.4 billion if voluntary family planning was made available to everyone in developing countries.
Along with the economic costs, UNFPA claims that ignoring the right to family planning results in poverty, poor health, and gender inequality. By enabling individuals to choose if and when they want to have children, both women and their children are more likely to live healthier, longer lives. According to a statement from UNFPA Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, "Family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development. ...Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women's increased labor-force participation boosts nations' economies."
However, this classification by the UNFPA is not legally binding and the United Nations cannot force nations to take any immediate action following the release of the report.
Media Resources: CBS News 11/14/12; Frisky 11/14/12; Huffington Post 11/14/12; UNFPA 11/14/12
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .