By Lew and Moawad
Saturday, October 7, 2006
The National Network of Abortion Funds, a Boston-based coalition of over 100 community-based groups in 42 states that helps low-income women pay for abortions, launched on Oct. 4 the "Hyde-30 Years is Enough! Campaign." The campaign is raising money to help women that are unable to receive abortion coverage under the Hyde Amendment and is calling for expanded public funding of abortion, comprehensive health care for all and support for low-income women to care for their families.
Since 1976, federal Medicaid has paid for less than 1 percent of abortions. In 1976, the Hyde Amendment, named for Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, was passed, prohibiting federal Medicaid dollars from being used to pay for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the woman. Before the Hyde Amendment, when Medicaid covered abortion services nationally, it paid for one-third of all abortions.
In an Oct. 4 commentary on the AlterNet Web site, University of California-Davis sociology professor Carole Joffe wrote that last year, nearly 28 percent of the $136,000 that the National Abortion Federation helped raise went to low-income women to help them pay for abortions. Most of the federation hotline's approximately 100 callers per day request a referral to an abortion provider in their area, Joffe wrote, but a sizable minority also seeks the hotline's assistance in raising money for reproductive health care.
"At an average of $468, the cost of a first-trimester abortion can be more than half of what a poverty-level family lives on in a month," noted Toni Bond of the National Network of Abortion Funds. "So women have very little choice; they have to use money needed for food, rent and other necessities to pay for abortion care. Women who are trying to make the best decision for themselves and their families are sometimes forced to continue the pregnancy, abandon school and stay trapped in poverty."
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A study by the United Nations' World Health Organization found that gender-based violence is widespread and women face domestic violence mainly from inside their homes, reported the International Herald Tribune Oct. 6. The November 2005 study--covered by Women's eNews on Dec. 4--gathered data from 25,000 women in 10 countries and is published in today's edition of the British journal, the Lancet.
The research indicates that women in Yokohama, Japan, experienced the lowest rate of domestic violence with 15 percent and women in rural Ethiopia had the highest rate with 71 percent. The report said rural areas have higher rates of domestic violence than cities, but that violence is common in both and affects developed as well as developing nations. No region is immune.
"We have always known that violence is part of women's lives," said Adrienne Germain, director of the International Women's Health Coalition in New York. "But when we've talked about it before we were mostly dismissed; in the past we've often heard, 'Prove it. Prove that it's happening in our country.' I cannot emphasize how important this study is, and how crucial it is for the U.N. to be sponsoring something like this."
Irene Lew is the editorial intern at Women's eNews. Nouhad Moawad is the Arabic site intern and Allison Stevens is Washington bureau chief.
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By Megan Cossey