Anti-choice Republicans militating against federal funding of family planning threaten to wreck vital work against HIV infection, Wednesday 9 February 2011
Around the world, people are fascinated by the political tussle between Democrats and Republicans over attempts to repeal the landmark US healthcare bill passed last year. Few people realise, however, that if the new Republican-dominated House of Representatives gets its way, it won’t just be Americans who are affected. As part of his repeal effort, House speaker John Boehner is intent on reintroducing the “global gag” rule, a policy that would endanger the lives of millions of women worldwide. America’s culture wars may be coming to a country near you.

The global gag rule, officially known as the Mexico City policy, was introduced by the Reagan administration in 1984, during the United Nation’s International Conference on Population in Mexico City. The policy prevents US overseas assistance from going to organisations that provide information on abortion, perform abortions or direct women to abortion providers.

Because the rule denies funding to organisations that simply counsel women on abortion issues, not just those that perform abortion, family planning Women from developing countries have been let down by the UN, say charitiesfacilities around the world cut back services, close facilities and raise their fees to cover lost income thereby reducing access to their services. These services include contraceptive distribution vital to the prevention of HIV/Aids. When George W Bush restarted the ideological war against family planning by reintroducing the gag rule in 2001, shipments of condoms and contraceptives from USAID was immediately halted to 16 countries. The impact was devastating.

Population Action International, an independent research organisation on family planning, reported that in Kenya five of the most established family planning clinics closed – many of which were the only affordable options in their areas. In Lesotho, where one quarter of women suffer from HIV/Aids, all condom donations from USAID were cut off. With fewer organisations to counsel on safe sex, and with fewer or no contraceptives to distribute, the gag rule actually increases the spread of HIV/Aids in some of the worse affected countries. This, of course, runs directly against official American policy aimed at reducing the number of global HIV infections.

Even more perversely, the policy is self-defeating. Research illustrates that instead of curbing abortions, the number of abortions increased. Countries with family planning services have lower rates of abortion than those without. Because women cannot get access to contraceptives and advice, they end up reliant on the last ditch option when pregnant: abortion. Often, desperate women resort to dangerous non-clinical practices in the absence of professional medical care. The results are horrific and inhumane.

Republicans are quick to accuse those who advocate for a woman’s right to chose of being pro-abortion. The reality is that we are pro-health. Being pro-choice is not equivalent to being pro-abortion. Rather, we understand that this is an issue best left to a woman and her doctor. Abortion is a fact of life, like it or not, and studies have shown that one of the best ways to reduce abortions is to offer preventive family planning, as well as immediate post-abortion family planning and counselling. The figures from one study on immediate post-abortion counselling in Turkey are revealing: the number of clients using contraception after an abortion and subsequent counselling rose from 67% to 91% in one year; and the number of abortions dropped over the decade from 4,100 in 1992 to 1,709 in 1998.

The global gag rule undermines America’s HIV/Aids policy, it risks the lives of countless women and it undermines a core American value – the freedom of speech. Women should have access to a wide variety of family planning and health counselling that should include everything from abstinence to abortion. To argue otherwise, given the evidence at hand, is not just reprehensible; it is immoral.


The conference on abortion to be held this weekend in Seville has claimed its first victim before birth. The hotel that will host is the victim of a relentless campaign of harassment by anti-abortion organizations in a desperate and probably futile attempt not to hold the meeting.

The Meliá Sevilla hosts from today until next Saturday, the ninth congress of the International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception (FIAPAC), with the participation of professionals from over 40 countries, and has the backing of the Ministry Health of the Andalusian and the city of Seville.

Well, your say, and organizations like Right to Life have announced a boycott of the hotel Meliá Group, with a view to concluding in Madrid, the World Congress of Families (WCF), bringing together in 2012 to about 1,100 people in the capital of Spain.

These organizations pro-life, in fact, have warned that withdrawing from the documentation of that conference, organized by both, any reference to each and every one of the group’s hotels, to prevent participants in the same staying in them.

“The decision to withdraw the facilities of Meliá Group of documentation that will be served prior to the Congress,” said in a statement a spokesman for these associations, “has been taken because the hotel group is hosting this weekend the congress muncial of the magnates of the abortion industry, which discussed how to improve techniques to streamline its procedures at the time of killing children. ”

The organizers of the anti-abortion conference in Madrid warn that this boycott will extend to all events organized by any of the associations that are after the conference.
Great protest

The congress this weekend in Seville in Seville not only meet the professionals who participate in it, but thousands of antiabortion activists who arrived in Spain, for what they have chartered buses that depart from cities such as Avila, Cadiz, Granada, Jaén, Madrid, Malaga and even a plane from Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The Pro-Life and the Spanish Family Forum, which have joined the boycott Meliá Group, have called for Saturday, October 23 demonstration at the gates of the hotel hosting the conference, from 12.00.

Not the only protest the weekend about the conclusion of the congress in Seville FIAPAC. On Friday, October 22, at night, at 21.00, Men’s Forum for Equality has called a rally at Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes, under the motto “Criminalizing abortion is sexist violence.”
The hotel employer calls for restraint

The Hotel Association of Seville and Province has rejected a statement the campaign of “harassment and demolition excessive and disproportionate, that from certain social groups are being encouraged in recent days” against the Meliá Sevilla, and by extension against Meliá.

Sevilla hotel employers also made “an appeal to reason and sanity, rejects all about the pronouncements that have circulated over the network, leading to excess, and urges the co-convenor of the merger, which seems to be that will celebrate in front of the Hotel, to resolve their differences, legitimate, in this field with other media and in other areas and social forums.

Schwangerschaftsabbrüche: Noch steht das Recht nur am Papier.
Europaratsbeschluß über die Pflicht der Krankenhausträger wurde vorläufig zu Fall gebracht

‚Im Prinzip schon, aber….’ So beginnen die bekannten Radio-Eriwan-Witze. ‚Im Prinzip schon’ hat jede Frau in Österreich ein Recht auf den ärztlichen Schwangerschaftsabbruch. Aber was tun, wenn wohnortnahe keiner angeboten wird?

Tatsächlich ist die Verfügbarkeit eines (medizinisch korrekt durchgeführten) Schwangerschaftsabbruches in Österreich eher die Ausnahme als die Regel: In den Bundesländern Burgenland, Tirol und Vorarlberg bietet keine einzige  Krankenanstalt den Abbruch an. In den anderen Bundesländern gibt es nur vereinzelte Angebote; lediglich in Wien besteht eine gewisse Auswahl. Insgesamt werden nur an 17 der 100 österreichischen Krankenanstalten Abbrüche vorgenommen.

Was von Seiten der Krankenhausbetreiber gerne als Gewissensentscheidung der Ärzte dargestellt wird, beruht jedoch in den meisten Fällen auf massivem ideologischem oder politischem Druck. So wird in Niederösterreich über eine persönliche Weisung des Landeshauptmannes berichtet, derzufolge in ‚seinen’ Landesspitälern keine Schwangerschaftsabbrüche durchgeführt werden dürfen. Im Bundesland Salzburg sorgte eine konservative Ärztelobby dafür, dass sich entgegen der Weisung der (sozialistischen) Landeshauptfrau nur eine einzige Gynäkologin bereit fand, Abbrüche durchzuführen. So kam es zu der aberwitzigen Konstellation, dass jeden Samstag eine Gynäkologin/ein Gynäkologe aus Wien anreisen muss, um das Recht auf Schwangerschaftsabbruch sicherzustellen. Andernfalls müssten die Frauen eine Fahrt von mehreren hundert Kilometern auf sich nehmen.

Selbstredend verweigern alle von (katholisch-)konfessionellen Krankenhausträgern betriebenen Spitäler ihren ÄrztInnen die Vornahme entsprechender Eingriffe und bedrohen sie sogar mit Entlassung.

Europarat soll Verpflichtung klarstellen
Ein gestern vom Europarat debattierte Bericht hätte diese unwürdige Situation beendet. Die britische Abgeordnete Christine McCafferty brachte am  20.07.2010 für das Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee. das Dokument Nr. 12347 ein, das den Titel trägt: “Women’s access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection” oder „Zugang von Frauen zur gesetzlichen Gesundheitsfürsorge: das ungeregelte Problem von Verweigerung aus Gewissensgründen“.

In dem Entwurf der Resolution heißt es:
„Es kommt immer öfter vor, dass Ärzte oder sonstiges medizinisches Personal aus Gründen der Religion, der Moral oder Philosophie bestimmte medizinische Dienstleistungen verweigern. Zwar kann man niemanden zwingen, gegen sein Gewissen zu handeln, aber da solche Fälle sich gerade in Fragen der Fortpflanzung (Schwangerschaftsabbruch, künstliche Befruchtung usw.) häufen, bedarf es gesetzlicher Regelungen. Es soll ein Gleichgewicht zwischen dem Recht des Arztes, einen Eingriff aus Gewissensgründen zu verweigern, und dem Recht der Frau auf bestimmte gesetzlich erlaubte medizinische Eingriffe oder Behandlungen gefunden werden.“

Gleichgewicht der Interessen herstellen
Die 47 Mitgliedsstaaten sollen also sicherstellen, dass kontroversiell gesehene medizinische Dienstleistungen auch gegen Gewissenswiderstände einzelner Ärzte angeboten werden und für Patienten zugänglich sind. Denn das Recht auf freie Gewissensentscheidung gilt nur für direkt in medizinische Eingriffe involvierte Personen (Angestellte wie Ärzte etc.), nicht aber für nicht unmittelbar betroffenes Personal (z. B: Krankenschwestern, Stationspersonal). Insbesondere wird die Verweigerung von Eingriffen wie z. B. Schwangerschaftsabbrüchen in einzelnen öffentlichen medizinische Einrichtungen oder Kliniken ‚aus Gewissensgründen’ abgelehnt. Vielmehr müssen Institutionen sicherstellen, dass sie Ärzte anstellen, welche diese Behandlungen durchführen.

Zur Begründung heißt es, dass ein Gleichgewicht zwischen dem persönlichen Recht auf Gewissensentscheidungen und dem Recht der Patienten auf die gesetzlich zulässige Versorgung in angemessener Frist hergestellt sein müsse.

Der Entwurf wurde von (religiös fundamentalistischen) Gegnern so lange mit Änderungsanträgen unterlaufen (insgesamt 89), bis der Inhalt der Resolution in sein Gegenteil verkehrt war und daher auch von den ursprünglichen Befürwortern nur noch abgelehnt werden konnte. So bleibt es vorläufig dabei, dass Patienten ihre Interessen nicht gegen die der Ärztin/des Arztes durchsetzen können.

Mitteilung des Museums für Verhütung und Schwangerschaftsabbruch, Wien

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By Tracy Wilkinson and Cecilia Sanchez

Reporting from Mexico City — Advocates say the women, who insist they suffered miscarriages, got caught up in Mexico’s cultural wars over abortion.

The seven women were accused of killing their newborn babies and handed long prison sentences. They insisted they had suffered miscarriages and should not be punished; one claimed she wasn’t even sure she was pregnant.

The women have finally been freed, after years in jail and only after their cause was taken up by human rights organizations here and abroad and by a handful of determined legislators.

However the pregnancies ended, the cases highlighted the poor quality of reproductive healthcare and education in parts of Mexico, and the stigma still attached to unwanted pregnancies.

The seven on Tuesday evening stepped from prison in the colonial city of Guanajuato, 220 miles northwest of Mexico City, raising their arms in joy and shouting, “We are free!” Relatives and supporters greeted them.

“I just want to move on, study and help other women,” one of the women, Yolanda Martinez, told reporters Wednesday morning.

Free, but not exonerated. The women were released only after the state legislature reduced the penalty for the crime most were convicted of: infanticide.

Advocates for the women say they got caught up in Mexico’s cultural wars over abortion. Abortion was legalized in Mexico City in 2007, but not in the rest of the country. In numerous states, Guanajuato included, there has been a backlash as local authorities seek to restrict even further the ability of women to terminate their pregnancies.

Veronica Cruz, director of Las Libres social-welfare center in Guanajuato that supported the women, said she believed authorities wanted to prosecute the women for having induced abortions. But abortion only carries a sentence of six months to three years in jail. By charging them with killing a full-term born infant, authorities could send the women to prison for up to 29 years and send a chilling message.

“In reality, they just wanted to further criminalize abortion,” Cruz said in a telephone interview from Guanajuato.

Martinez had served six years and eight months of a 25-year sentence. An additional 160 women are behind bars in Guanajuato for having had abortions or self-induced miscarriages, Cruz said.

Guanajuato Gov. Juan Manuel Oliva had said abortion was not the issue, noting the women were imprisoned for killing their babies, not for having had abortions. But, as pressure mounted, he agreed to review the cases and eventually proposed that the penalties be reduced.

Two of the seven women released from jail had said they were impregnated in rapes. Another of the freed women, Ana Rosa Padron, said she was happy to be pregnant and looking forward to the birth of her second child. After feeling terrible pain in her belly, she passed out and awoke to find she had miscarried, she said. But state investigators accused her of giving birth and then smothering the baby by clamping her hand over its mouth and nose. She began serving a 29-year sentence two years ago.

Marianne Mollmann, advocacy director for women’s rights at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, began investigating the Guanajuato cases a year ago. She said that while it is impossible to know exactly what happened to end the pregnancies, it was clear that authorities were determined to prosecute the women “without compassion or concern for the context.”

“It was strange to me that [prosecutors] were so viciously targeting women who are not given the basic tools to make responsible decisions about their reproductive lives,” Mollmann said in a telephone interview from New York.

State investigators declined to comment Wednesday. They previously have defended their handling of the cases and insisted the women were guilty.

An abortion hotline which has been set up in Pakistan is facing violent opposition. Islamic groups and political parties have condemned the hotline, which was launched yesterday, as “anti-Islamic” and “colonial”, even though it will save the lives of thousands of women who die each year in backstreet abortion clinics. They have warned the organisers that they are at risk of reprisals.

The hotline, set up by a collection of women’s groups in Pakistan and the Dutch pro-choice group Women on Waves, advises women how to use a drug to induce miscarriage safely and aims to reduce the estimated 890,000 unsafe illegal abortions performed in Pakistan every year.

“There will be very strong opposition,” said Ahsan Iqbal, of the Pakistan Muslim League. “This could create misuse. It cannot be done as free choice under our law and our religion.”

Access to abortion in Pakistan is very limited. Forbidden under Islamic law unless the mother’s life is in danger, terminating a pregnancy carries a massive social stigma in the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim. As a result, a flourishing trade in backstreet abortion clinics has developed.

Figures from the Population Council of Pakistan show that the country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, with 320 women dying for every 100,000 live births – compared to 13 per 100,000 in the UK. The Guttmacher Institute, which researches sexual and reproductive health, estimates that as many as one in six deaths are a result of illegal abortions.

“We want to save women’s lives,” said Gulalai Ismail, founder of the Pakistani women’s group Aware Girls, which is helping to set up the hotline. “We are empowering women, and trying to give them information to help them take control of their bodies. Any groups which try to help women will have problems with extremist and fundamentalist groups. Ninety-nine per cent of clerics will oppose this.”

As well as the hotline, trained Pakistani staff will offer abortion information in communities in rural Pakistan, particularly in the tribal areas of the North-West Frontier Province, where opposition is expected to be fiercest.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, warned the organisers that they risked reprisals. “To go against the majority like this might be seen sympathetically in the West, but it will be counterproductive and will create huge problems. At best, they are misguided, at worst they are trying to provoke,” he said. “It is part of the colonial idea that the West’s way is the best, and that is not the case.”

Women on Waves, created in 1999 by the Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, operates a controversial “abortion boat”, which offers free terminations in international waters around countries where abortion is illegal or difficult to obtain. In 2004, the ship was prevented from entering Portuguese waters after the government blocked its way with a warship; on another occasion, a flotilla of anti-abortion campaigners surrounded the vessel when it docked in the Spanish port of Valencia, and hundreds of protesters lined the streets. However, there are no plans for it to moor off the coast of Pakistan.

“While the debate continues on whether terminating a pregnancy is allowed or not, and under what conditions, thousands of women are dying as a result of unsafe backstreet abortions,” said Shaista Gohir, executive director of Muslim Women’s Network. “The Pakistani government is failing in its duty to provide adequate family planning services,” she said.

A 2002 survey found that most women seeking abortions were married, aged in their thirties and already had four children. Globally, an estimated 20 million women have illegal abortions every year, around 68,000 of whom die as a result.

Menschenrechtsgerichtshof bestätigt Abwehrrecht gegen Abtreibungsgegner / Flugblätter vor Praxis verteilt

Az.: 2373/07 und 2396/07

STRAßBURG (mwo). Persönliche Angriffe gegen Gynäkologen von Abtreibungsgegnern sind von der Meinungsfreiheit nicht gedeckt. Nach dem Bundesverfassungsgericht hat dies nun auch der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte (EGMR) in Straßburg bekräftigt.

Der Antragsteller hatte 2001 in der Nähe einer gynäkologischen Praxis Flugblätter verteilt. “Stoppt rechtswidrige Abtreibungen in der Praxis Dr. K.”, hieß es dort. Und auf der Rückseite: “Bitte helfen Sie uns im Kampf gegen die straflose Tötung ungeborener Kinder.” Hintergrund ist die Unterscheidung des Strafgesetzbuchs zwischen einer rechtmäßigen und einer straffreien Abtreibung. Rechtmäßig ist nur eine Abtreibung zum gesundheitlichen Schutz der Mutter. Trotzdem bleibt aber auch eine Abtreibung innerhalb der ersten zwölf Wochen straffrei, wenn die Schwangere sie wünscht und sich zuvor hat entsprechend beraten lassen.

Die Unterlassungsklage des Arztes hatte dennoch durch alle Instanzen Erfolg. Dabei gingen die deutschen Gerichte davon aus, dass die mit dem Flugblatt angesprochenen juristischen Laien den Vorwurf “rechtswidriger Abtreibungen” so verstehen, dass der Gynäkologe sich gesetzwidrig verhalte und strafbar mache. So gelesen sei der Vorwurf aber falsch. Der Bundesgerichtshof sprach zudem von einer “Prangerwirkung”. Der damit verbundene Eingriff in die Persönlichkeitsrechte des Arztes wiege deutlich schwerer als die Meinungsfreiheit. Das Bundesverfassungsgericht meinte, der Abtreibungsgegner könne seine Position problemlos so formulieren, dass auch Laien klar sei, dass der Gynäkologe nicht strafbar handle.

Diese Positionen unterstützte nun auch der Menschenrechtsgerichtshof in Straßburg. Niemand habe dem Abtreibungsgegner verboten, sich öffentlich gegen straffreie Abtreibungen zu äußern. Der Abtreibungsgegner seinerseits habe aber sogar Patientinnen gezielt angesprochen und dadurch die freie Berufsausübung des Arztes erheblich beeinträchtigt.

Dennoch hat das Bundesverfassungsgericht gleichzeitig festgestellt, dass es unter Meinungsfreiheit fällt einen Arzt als “Tötungsspezialist für ungeborene Kinder” zu bezeichnen.

(engl.) The European Court of Human Rights as well as the German Federal Constitutional Court approved that certain accusations of anti-choice Organisations in Germany are not compatible with freedom of speech. In this case an organisation handed out flyers infront of a gynecologists office accusing him of illegal abortions. The Court acknowlegded that the use of the term illegal was incorrect even under the German law, where certain abortions is still illegal but exempt from punishment. Nevertheless the German Federal Constitutional Court approved as well that the term “Tötung ungeborener Kinder” (Killing of unborn children) on the flyer is constitutional under the Freedom of Speech Act.

Hinter dieser Initiative Nie Wieder! e.V. aus Weinheim, die diese Webseite betreibt, steckt der Industriekaufmann Klaus Günther Annen, der seit den 80er Jahren immer wieder Kampagnen und Klagen gegen Ärzte organisiert hat. Mit dem Namen der Kampagne Nie Wieder! spielt er auf den Slogan Nie wieder Faschismus! an und versucht auch mit der Etablierung des Begriffs Babycaust das Thema Abtreibung mit dem Holocaust und Völkermord zu verbinden. Die neue und gefährliche Dimension dieser Webseite besteht darin, dass hier auch die Adressen und Fotos von Ärzten, Beratern von Familienplanungszentren und Kliniken in Deutschland veröffentlicht werden.

Ein Interview mit Annen findet sich hier

(engl.) This website and campagne is organized by Klaus Günther Annen, who is very active in the anti-choice scene since the 80s with frequent attempts to file lawsuits against doctors and family planing organisations. With the name of the campagne Never again! and his use of the term babycaust he tries to connect abortion to the holocaust. The new and dangerous quality of this site is that he published a list of doctors, consultants and clinics in Germany with pictures and adresses.