Cheers and Jeers

Athletes Fight AIDs; U.S. Solons Meddle in Uruguay

Saturday, May 15, 2004

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(WOMENSENEWS)--


Cheers

The Ethiopian long distance running teams are chasing dreams to fruition. And women are leading the way.

Not only do female Ethiopian runners globally dominate the field of cross country running (outshining neighbors in Kenya time and again in recent competitions) but often they are also socially responsible leaders addressing their nation's widespread poverty and disease, The New York Times reported.

One Ethiopian female champion, Elfenesh Alemu, who came in second in the Boston marathon last month, was married wearing a gown that carried a message. The gown's train was long enough to circle a quarter-mile track and was festooned with red AIDS ribbons. The train was later sectioned into 250 pieces, signed with safe-sex pledges and distributed to schoolchildren for display in classrooms.

In Ethiopia, 2.2 million people suffer from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS and two-thirds of Addis Ababa residents who die between the ages of 20 and 54 die of AIDS-related illnesses.



Jeers

Women's rights advocates in Uruguay told the Associated Press this week that six anti-choice members of the U.S. Congress inserted themselves into their nation's heated debate about proposed changes in its laws regulating reproductive health services, including abortion.

The anti-choice Republicans members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Uruguay's senators, pleading with them not to "legalize the violent murder of unborn children," the Associated Press reported. Uruguay would have become the second country in Latin America, after Cuba, to legalize abortion, had the bill passed. The letter calling the United States's legalization of abortion a "costly mistake" was signed by Chris Smith, New Jersey; Mike Pence, Indiana; Todd Akin, Missouri; Steve King, Iowa; Jo Ann Davis, Virginia and Joseph Pitts, Pennsylvania.

The legislation had passed Uruguay's House of Representatives but lost by a 17-13 vote in the Senate. In addition to legalizing abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, the bill would have provided for sex education, contraceptive distribution and maternal health care services. Had it passed President Jorge Batlle, like many Uruguayans, a strict Roman Catholic, said he would veto it.

No one said they believed the letter directly changed the outcome. The unorthodox move, however, was seen by women's rights advocates in Uruguay as a case of U.S. legislators overstepping their bounds.

"The letter was a flagrant involvement in another country's constitutional issues," Angeles Cabria, senior program officer for Latin America at the International Women's Health Coalition told the Associated Press. Cabria added that 63 percent of Uruguayans supported the legislation and that the American lawmakers were "basically telling these senators to go against the will of their country."

-- Shaya Mohajer.

 
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