December 23, 2011
Update on Sex Selection 2011
One of the most under-reported stories of 2011 was the prevalence of prenatal sex-selection in countries in Eastern Europe and in former Soviet Union Republics like Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The Council of Europe reported that these nations have sex selection ratios at birth of 112 for the three "A's" and 111 for Georgia (i.e. 112 males are born for every 100 females), far above the norm of 105-6. This level is the same as India. China is at about 120. The imbalance in the sex ratio is caused by both the selection of a male embryo for implantation in assisted reproduction and sex selection abortion.
The results were set out by the Council of Europe Report: "Population imbalances, which are likely to create difficulties for men to find spouses, lead to serious human rights violations such as forced prostitution, trafficking for the purposes of marriage or sexual exploitation, and contribute to a rise in criminality and social unrest."
Unnoted by the Council of Europe is the long term population decline in three of these countries. Albania's population has fallen 7.7% in the past decade. Armenia's and Georgia's have fallen as well, both from emigration and smaller family size, while Azerbaijan's, with its Muslim majority and tradition of larger family size, has been rising. In fact, much of Eastern Europe and the nations of the former Soviet Union are seeing absolute population declines from both emigration and smaller family size. China faced similar pressures with its One Child Policy, which forced many parents to chose a male heir, since they would have only one child. But Korea, with no One Child Policy and India similarly, ended up with imbalanced sex ratios, though smaller than China's. Lack of perceived economic opportunity leads parents to curtail family size. Note the decline in childbirths in the US during the current economic difficulties.
The sex selection disease has not spread yet to Western Europe or the Western Hemisphere, but it is something that policy makers need to keep an eye on. Laws against revealing the sex of a fetus, in effect in India, do little good. A broader cultural change is needed. Korea showed that this could be done, when that country reversed its sex ratio problem through cultural messages on valuing girls. An interesting twist is in Japan where parents having one child prefer girls.
There are profound human biological forces at work in childbearing. Children are the parents' future in more ways than one. This must be understood and respected, even as we strive to help parents see the alternatives.
December 22, 2011
US International Family Planning Funding Update
It is expected that President Obama will soon sign a “megabus” spending package for fiscal year 2012 (H.R. 2055), which includes funds for international family planning and reproductive health programs. Essentially the funding is the same as the previous budget, neither a cut nor a raise. A raise was sorely needed but was not to be, despite heavy lobbying by us at IPPF and success in the Senate. The House remained opposed and wanted deep cuts. The compromise was level funding.
The State Department and foreign operations bill section of the bill includes a total of $610 million in bilateral and multilateral family planning and reproductive health funding. Comparable FY 2011 funding totaled $615 million.
The bill includes $35 million for a U.S. contribution to the UN Population Fund, a $5 million reduction from the amount appropriated last year. The bill continues the requirements that UNFPA maintain U.S. funds in a segregated account, none of which may be used in China or for abortion, and mandates a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount provided to UNFPA by a sum identical to that spent by UNFPA in China.
The funding bill does NOT reinstate the Global Gag Rule, something the House wanted but the Senate resisted. The Senate in fact wanted to prohibit the President from reinstating it. This too, alas, is not in the bill.
December 06, 2011
Receiving IPPF Award, London, Nov 26, 2011
IPPF Individual Volunteer Award for Contributions to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Presentation by Jacqueline Sharpe, President of IPPF, Nov 26, 2011, London
Alex Sanger is an ideal volunteer, fully committed to our vision, richly endowed with all the qualities that enable him to make effective contributions to IPPF, generous both with his time and financial resources.
Alex learned about unmet need in the lap of his grandmother, Margaret Sanger, who founded the birth control movement 90 years ago and travelled extensively throughout the world to lay the groundwork for assembling the international group that created IPPF in India in 1952.
Alex was not always a volunteer. Until 2000 he was the CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, PPNYC, one of the largest affiliates in the international family planning community. With a budget of over $20 million dollars, PPNYC serves a diverse population of over 75,000 New Yorkers with innovative medical and educational programs, and millions more through its extensive advocacy initiatives.
As a volunteer, he is currently member of the IPPF/WHR Regional board, and the chair of International Planned Parenthood Council, which is fully dedicated to fund raising for IPPF. As such, he travels extensively using his remarkable oratorical skills to motivate individuals – both millionaires and less endowed regular citizens as well – to support our fellow citizens who are vulnerable and don’t have access to contraception unless IPPF helps them. He walks the talk and uses very creative techniques. For instance, recently, when he sold his apartment, he included in the deal a generous donation to IPPF.
A prolific writer, he is the author of the book Beyond choices: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century, and is frequently featured with articles in major newspapers and in websites and blogs. Recently Alex published key articles in defense of our movement when one of the most radical candidates for President of the United States made some blatantly false accusations that had wide repercussions.
Alex cares about every aspect of our work. In the last few years - working closely with the staff in a very respectful way as always – Alex headed a real estate committee of the IPPFWHR Board. Numerous hours were dedicated to major and minor decisions, and detailed - and humorous – reports kept the whole board in the loop. Carmen and her staff were extremely grateful for his guidance and support – and for the state of the art coffee machine he donated to the new office. He is also a great cook, annually contributing the best brownies to the pot-luck lunch of the WHR office, when staff feast on the culinary excellence of their peers who represent the diverse cuisine of the whole region.
Ideas, financial donations and even food: we are honored to make Alex Sanger the recipient of the individual Volunteer Award.