181229 Title: Defending against abortion restrictions across borders: The harm of US foreign policy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:15 AM

Patty Skuster, JD; MPP , Policy, Policy Associate, Chapel Hill, NC
Roe v. Wade is still settled law; however, the number of abortion restrictions in the US is increasing. Restrictive abortion laws are not only an affront to women's human rights, but also result in death and injury to women. This is one presentation in a proposed panel that will illustrate the tragic impact of abortion restrictions from national, regional and international perspectives and the work of advocates to advance reproductive rights in restrictive environments.

The US government is complicit in high rates of death and injury from unsafe abortion among the world's most vulnerable women. Abortion-related restrictions in US foreign policy prevent recipients of family planning funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from engaging in work to address maternal mortality from unsafe abortion.

The panelist will explain restrictions in US foreign policy, including the Global Gag Rule and the Helms Amendment. She will describe how the Global Gag Rule prevents non-governmental organizations from participating in the democratic process, hindering their ability to address unsafe abortion through legal reform. The presentation will show that the Global Gag Rule can increase abortion rates by harming organizations' efforts expand access to family planning services.

The world's most vulnerable women living in the global south are the target of these dangerous restrictions – women unable to influence policies or the outcome of an election. The panelist will call on APHA conferees to prioritize the rights of poor women living outside the US in advocating for reproductive rights and justice.

Learning Objectives:
Contribute to a global movement to defend against abortion restrictions with clear examples from outside the U.S. of the harm to women’s health and lives when abortion is restricted Advocate for U.S. policies that support reproductive rights with a priority on women living in the global south, whose health and lives are jeopardized by U.S. abortion restrictions

Keywords: Abortion, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Policy Associate with Ipas, where I support legal reform efforts and capacity building, focusing on Africa. I work to promote human rights and policies that support reproductive rights globally. I have documented and advocated against US abortion-related restrictions in several capacities. At Ipas, I work in Washington, DC with partner organizations to lobby the US congress and executive branch on the Global Gag Rule (restrictions on abortion-related activities for USAID recipients) and other restrictions. I prepared Ipas overseas staff for congressional meetings and briefings and to appear as a witness at a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Global Gag Rule. Prior to coming to Ipas, I worked in the office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, where I advised her and prepared her for debate on the Global Gag Rule. With Population Action International, I travelled to Nepal to document the impact of the Global Gag Rule on family planning services. I also travelled to Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda for the Center for Reproductive Rights and conducted interviews with NGOs, government and UN officials to document the impact of the Global Gag Rule on women’s rights and democracy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.