February 2012's Edition of
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UNFPA Director Speaks at PI’s Global Media Awards Dinner
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) spoke at the Population Institute's 32nd annual Global Media Awards dinner. Dr. Osotimehin, who talked about the vital importance of UNFPA's work and mission, was also presented the award for Best Print Editorial for his editorial entitled "Population and Development." The editorial, which ran in Science magazine, highlights the implications of the world's population reaching 7 billion, and the challenges that will face humanity in terms of poverty reduction, pollution, food and water scarcity, and health.
UN Panel on Global Sustainability Releases its Report
At the end of January, the UN Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Global Sustainability released its final report ("Resilient People, Resilient Plant: a future worth choosing"). The panel, which was chaired by Tarja Halmen, president of Finland, and Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, acknowledged some progress with respect to the Millennium Development Goals, but warned that the world is on an unsustainable path: "The signposts are clear: We need to change dramatically, beginning with how we think about our relationship to each other, to future generations, and to the eco-systems that support us...Continuing on the same path will put people and our planet at greatly heightened risk."
Congress Avoids Large Cuts in International Family Planning Assistance, but Trims UNFPA Funding.
In late December Congress approved an omnibus appropriations bill that froze bilateral international family planning assistance for FY2012 at last year's level of $575 million, but cut funding for the United Nations Population Fund from $40 million to $35 million. While the cut in funding for UNFPA is a setback, House opponents of family planning failed in their efforts to slash the funding levels by 25 percent. The amount approved by Congress still fell far short of the $1 billion funding level proposed by family planning advocates. Robert Walker, the President of the Population Institute, said, "There is still a large unmet need for family planning in the world. With the largest generation ever of young people entering their prime reproductive years, the U.S. should be boosting its support for both UNFPA and country-to-country assistance."
Contraception and Family Planning Come Under Renewed Political Assault
Last year, despite all the high-level Congressional attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics, Congress renewed its support for Title X family planning assistance, rebuffed efforts to slash international family planning assistance, and stopped a campaign to re-impose the global "gag rule" on overseas providers of family planning services. But family planning came under renewed assault in January during the GOP presidential contests when the leading candidates called for the elimination of Title X, and Rick Santorum said that states should have the authority to ban family planning.
Plateau Reached in Reducing Worldwide Abortion Rate
New research from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that while global abortion rates continue to decline, progress has stalled. According to the new study, titled "Induced Abortion: Incidence and Trends Worldwide from 1995 to 2008," the global abortion rate in 2008 was virtually unchanged, at 28 per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15-44 years). By contrast, from 1995 to 2003, the overall number of abortions per 1,000 women dropped from 35 to 29. The researchers also point out that this plateau coincides with a UN-documented slowdown in contraceptive uptake, and is especially marked in developing countries. Abortion rates continue to be higher in the developing world (29 per 1,000 in both 2003 and 2008) than in developed countries, such as in Europe where the rate was much lower (17 per 1,000 in 2008). In addition, Guttmacher and the WHO pointed out that unsafe abortion continued to account for an estimated 13% of maternal deaths worldwide in 2008.
Population Institute Releases Report on Family Planning in Latin America
On February 2, 2012, the Population Institute released a report, titled "USAID Graduation from Family Planning Assistance: Implications for Latin America", prepared by Dr. Jane T. Bertrand at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The report, which was finalized in October of 2011, examines how plans by USAID to phase out family planning assistance in Latin America could affect family planning and reproductive health in the region. The report looked at six countries in Latin America, including three countries that are currently scheduled for graduation (Honduras, Nicaragua, and Paraguay) and three countries that have not yet met the USAID criteria for graduation (Bolivia, Guatemala, and Haiti).