In the News
December 2018

China Reportedly Preparing to End Limits on Childbearing

China went from having a one-child policy to a two-child policy in 2016, and now appears poised to scrap all limits on childbearing in the country.

An early sign indicating that the end of the policy is imminent came when the design was unveiled for a stamp that will be released in 2019 for the Year of the Pig — it depicts two adult pigs and three piglets.

Even more telling, a draft of the civil code submitted for consideration at the 2020 annual meeting of the National People’s Congress omitted all references to family planning.

Although couples have been permitted to have a second child for three years now, the communist government has had little success in raising the birth rate.

In a country where forced sterilization and abortion were commonplace until recently, elective abortion and even divorce are becoming more difficult to obtain.

Argentina Narrowly Rejects Abortion Bill

Abortion in Argentina is currently only legal in cases of rape or threat to a woman’s health, dating back to a 1921 law. In June, Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, voted to legalize abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. In August, however, the Senate rejected the measure, 38 to 31, with two abstentions.

The country’s health minister, Adolfo Rubinstein, said during his testimony in favor of decriminalizing abortion that 354,000 abortions occur each year in Argentina — most of them unsafe. Supporters of the bill claim that 45,000 – 60,000 women are hospitalized each year as a result.

FDA Approves 12-Month Contraceptive Ring

In August, the Food and Drug Administration approved a 12-month vaginal contraceptive ring, name brand Annovera. The ring is inserted for three weeks, removed for one week, and reinserted, following this pattern for up to one year. The ring is 96–98-percent effective, according to the FDA.

Annovera was developed by Population Council, a non-profit organization based in New York, New York.

Tanzania’s President Shames Women for Using Birth Control

Tanzanian President John Magufuli reportedly said the following at a rally in September:

Women can now give up contraceptive methods. Those going for family planning are lazy … they are afraid they will not be able to feed their children. They do not want to work hard to feed a large family and that is why they opt for birth controls [sic] and end up with one or two children only.[1]

Later in the month, the government told organizations receiving USAID funding for family planning to stop running ads in the media. Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango, released a statement in response:

There’s no doubt that sexual and reproductive rights are coming under increasing attack in Tanzania. The government’s deplorable decision to pull these family planning ads comes less than two weeks after the President made derogatory remarks about Tanzanians wishing to exercise their fundamental right to make decisions about their bodies.

The Tanzanian authorities must immediately stop obstructing access to sexual and reproductive health services and end the intimidation of anyone providing information about such services — be they health workers, journalists, or activists.

Global Hunger Rises for Third Year

The 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World delivered some sobering news. According to the report, chronic food deprivation increased from 804 million in 2016 to nearly 821 million — approximately one out of every nine people in the world — in 2017.

The highest prevalence of undernourishment was in sub-Saharan Africa, at 23.2 percent of the population. The highest number of undernourished people was in Asia, at 515 million.

The number of stunted (low height/length for age) children under the age of five declined by 9 percent, to 150.8 million. Still, more than one in five children globally was stunted. And 7.5 percent of children — 50.5 million — under the age of five suffered from wasting (low weight for height/length).

Ireland to Offer Free Abortion Now That Procedure Is Legal

After only becoming legal in Ireland in September, abortion will now be accessible to all, free of charge. The procedure’s legalization was due to voters overwhelmingly supporting a referendum in May, with Irish expatriates returning home to vote in the thousands.

Health Minister Simon Harris told a reporter, “I’ve said from the start that I don’t want cost to be a barrier, because if cost is a barrier, you get into a situation where one of two things could happen: you see private clinics develop — we don’t want that to happen in Ireland, we want this to be part of an integrated public health service — and secondly, you can see people having to continue to travel.”

New Climate Report Reiterates Importance of Halting Global Temperature Increase

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest report in October. The report was prepared by 91 scientist authors and review editors from 40 countries, and contains over 6,000 scientific references.

The report explores the consequences of global atmospheric warming by 1.5°C above pre-industrial (1850 – 1900) levels (it has already warmed by 1°C). It also addresses the factors causing global warming (including population growth), and outlines mitigation options.

According to the report, “If the current warming rate continues, the world would reach human–induced global warming of 1.5°C around 2040.”

The one mention, in the 695-page report, of population-related measures as a mitigation strategy was disappointingly passive: “Reductions in population growth can reduce overall carbon demand and mitigate climate change, particularly when population growth is accompanied with increases in affluence and carbon-intensive consumption.”

In December 2015, 195 UN member states adopted the Paris Agreement to “[hold] the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and [pursue] efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” The Agreement entered into force in November 2016. At this time, however, only 181 Parties of the 197[2] signatories have ratified the agreement. The United States, under Donald Trump, became the only country to officially withdraw from the agreement in June 2017, saying it was bad for the U.S. economy.

The full title of the report is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty, and it is available for download at ipcc.ch/report/sr15/.

 

[1]1   Side note: Magafuli has only two children.

 

[2]   Nicaragua signed on in October 2017 and Syria signed on in November 2017, bringing the total Parties to 197.

 

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