It’s been a very busy week and I’ve mostly been working behind the scenes on the new web site, but I didn’t want to let these news items pass unremarked:

  • In Honduras, the president of the Congress declared on Wednesday that he has decided not to move forward on the bill that would have made use of the emergency contraceptive Plan B a crime subject to jail time. This bill was based on the mistaken belief that Plan B causes abortions.

  • The U. S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 4970, a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act that contains none of the updated protections for LBGT people, Native Americans, or immigrants that were contained in the bill passed by the Senate. Advocates for victims of domestic violence considered H.R. 4970 a “fake VAWA” and promise to continue to work toward a final bill that contains the updated provisions.

  • Good news: New Report: Fewer Women Dying in Pregnancy, Childbirth

    The number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, worldwide, has decreased by almost half, over a twenty year period (from 1990 – 2010), according to a new report. It’s good news, says Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. But there’s a lot more work to do. […]

    “We know exactly what to do to prevent maternal deaths: improve access to voluntary family planning, invest in health workers with midwifery skills, and ensure access to emergency obstetric care when complications arise. These interventions have proven to save lives and accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 5,” said Dr. Osotimehin.

    Via Impatient Optimists, the blog of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I highly recommend the blog to anyone concerned about maternal and child health and family planning. You can subscribe directly to the Maternal, Newborn and Child Heath topic using this RSS feed.

  • More good news: Education, Not Abortion, Reduces Maternal Mortality, Study Suggests

    A scientific analysis of 50 years of maternal mortality data from Chile has found that the most important factor in reducing maternal mortality is the educational level of women. “Educating women enhances women’s ability to access existing health care resources, including skilled attendants for childbirth, and directly leads to a reduction in her risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth,” according to Dr Elard Koch, epidemiologist and leading author of the study. […]

    One of the most significant findings is that, contrary to widely-held assumptions, making abortion illegal in Chile did not result in an increase in maternal mortality. In fact, after abortion was made illegal in 1989, the MMR continued to decrease from 41.3 to 12.7 per 100,000 live births (69.2% reduction). “Definitively, the legal status of abortion is unrelated to overall maternal mortality rates” emphasized Koch.

    For those of us who consider abortion violence against a human being, it is always encouraging to see recognition of nonviolent ways to solve the problems that abortion is meant to solve. Educating women is the key to women’s health, their ability to care for themselves and children, their economic security, and even their countries’ development. Holding women back from education and self-care — including family planning if they desire it — is unjust and wasteful. It’s a disservice to individual women and their families, and to the entire world.

Following a Supreme Court decision in February which inaccurately declared that emergency contraception is abortifacient, the Honduran Congress is poised to make distribution or use of levonorgestrel emergency contraception (LNG EC) a crime punishable by jail time. Once again, we see that misinformation about EC has severe consequences. The best available research shows that LNG EC has no mechanism of action other than the prevention of fertilization. The blog Feministas en Resistencia Honduras has more information (English translation).

 

Please sign this petition to the President of the National Congress of Honduras urging him not to criminalize the use of emergency contraception. Please also continue to educate governments, media, and pro-life or pro-choice organizations wherever you live on the facts about emergency contraception.

In the debate over contraceptive coverage in the United States, many opponents have repeated the argument that they do not want to be forced to pay for "abortifacients," namely IUDs and hormonal contraceptives such as "the pill" and the emergency contraceptive Plan B.

But, as All Our Lives continually points out, this isn't what the scientific evidence says. Check out, for example, the references in our "Family Planning Freedom Is Prolife" slideshow.

In fact, these very methods are among the most effective reversible methods at preventing conception. So, they're not abortifacients. They are anti-abortifacients.

We have already discussed the grave real-life consequences of the misinformation here. Unfortunately, they go far beyond any blog post.

The Supreme Court of Honduras has just ruled that emergency contraception amounts to abortion and thus should be subjected to the same criminal penalties. Never mind that Honduran women's access to all kinds of family planning–pregnancy prevention–is severely restricted and the government.

If you appreciate the work of All Our Lives, please join us in challenging the rampant misinformation about how such methods of birth control work. Wherever you live, don't let it go unchallenged. Refer those who perpetuate it to our slide presentation, which lists specific scientific studies.

You will likely encounter complete resistance from some people, especially those who both categorically oppose birth control and want to interfere in others' right to make their own decisions about it.

But others will welcome the good news that these methods are anti-abortifacients. And if those of us who believe in family planning freedom say nothing, women will continue to suffer, and unborn babies to die.