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On Roe v. Wade's Anniversary, Obama to Begin Mopping Up Bush's Misogynistic Mess

The Obama administration has women's reproductive rights and health high on its agenda.
 
 
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President Obama took office just 48 hours ago, and the world is already a very different place for women and their reproductive health.

Global Gag Rule, Conscience Rule, and Ban on Stem Cell Funding on the Chopping Block

Word is that the administration will repeal the global gag rule today, on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  "This is a big victory for women overseas," said Tod Preston, vice president for government relations at Population Action International, told the LA Times. "We know their health has been severely impacted by the cutoff. If you want to reduce unintended pregnancies, abortion and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning, you don't do it by cutting off U.S. assistance." 

The LA Times reportsthat the new administration also plans to "freeze" many of the midnight regulations promulgated by the Bush administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services's provider conscience expansion, which would enable health care providers to deny access to critical health care, including forms of contraception, to women.  But the New York Times says addressing this regulation may take more time, as it went into effect January 19: "A 1983 Supreme Court decision suggests that the new administration would need to go through a formal rule-making process, with an opportunity for public comment, if it wanted to revoke this rule."

The administration also has in its sights a Bush administration policy that "impeded state efforts to provide health insurance to children from low- and middle-income families," the New York Times reports.  "Under the Bush policy, the federal government said it would not allow states to cover children from families with annual incomes above 250 percent of the poverty level -- $53,000 for a family of four -- unless they met several preconditions. To qualify, a state must demonstrate that at least 95 percent of eligible children in families making less than 200 percent of the poverty level have already been enrolled in Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program...A career employee at the Health and Human Services Department said the Bush administration policy had 'prevented a lot of kids from receiving the health care they needed,' a concern echoed by many state officials."

Obama is also likely to take early action lifting the ban on federal funding of stem cell research, reports the San Francisco Gate

PEPFAR: Good on Access to Treatment, Failure on Prevention

Josh Ruxin of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria discusses PEPFAR's shortcomings on the Huffington Post, saying PEFPARs prevention programs failed the "real-world test":

Fidelity programs implied that women with few decision rights over sex simply had to remain faithful to avoid AIDS. Meanwhile, their husbands were out contracting the virus and passing it to them. It was supremely disempowering, misogynistic and, ultimately, deadly. Lifting the gag rule and bundling family planning, contraception, HIV prevention, and maternal and early childhood health together is essential to fighting this disease and restoring womens reproductive rights to the program.

While programs discouraging premarital sex have delayed the age of first sex (called sexual debut), they may have increased the risk of AIDS. How's that? Students taught to abstain appeared more likely to practice unsafe sex when they did start. Thus, the administration may have managed to generate more, not fewer, AIDS cases by pushing this largely religiously-driven policy into practice. In a sexually-transmitted disease epidemic, people need to be able to talk about sex. By restricting passage of information about safe sex, PEPFAR utterly failed the "real world" test.
George W. Bush "Most Pro-Life President Ever"?

Several anti-choice organizations are calling George W. Bush "the most pro-life President ever," reports CNS News. Bush’s January 18 declaration of "National Sanctity of Life Day" was the "culmination of eight years of pro-life policies that included sustained opposition to embryonic stem cell research; the appointment of two pro-life Supreme Court Justices; an executive order barring federal funds to be used for abortion- related projects abroad; and a rule protecting federally funded health employees from taking part in abortion-related activities or other practices that conflicted with their religious views."  CNS News outlines the administration's many actions that curtail women's right to reproductive choice -- and, for that matter, won't do much to reduce the rate of abortion, either.

 

Emily Douglas is the Assistant Editor at RH Reality Check.