Making Women's Health an International Priority

    here in the u.s. for the sixth year in a row, president bush's annual budget request for funding the violence against women act once again falls short of the amount of its congressional authorization. and while the president will no doubt serve up the usual annual platitudes about honoring women today, his administration has, as it has every year since 2001, also requested cuts in funding for maternal and child health as well as family planning.
    meanwhile, more than half a million women worldwide will die this year from the complications of pregnancy and childbirth, including 68,000 from illegal and unsafe abortions. according to the lancet, "an estimated 90 percent of deaths from unsafe abortions and 20 percent of obstetric mortality could be avoided with improved access to contraception. yet the latest figures show that donor funding for family planning has decreased by 36 percent."
    it is particularly ironic that the supposedly liberated women of afghanistan suffer the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world with 1,600 deaths per 100,000 live births. in the u.s. more than 20 million women live in poverty and out of 173 countries, the u.s. is one of only five countries that has no guaranteed maternity leave. the u.s. is also one of only seven countries that has not ratified the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (cedaw).
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