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Greens move to overturn restrictions on aid for women’s health

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will today move a motion in the Senate calling on the Rudd Government to abolish restrictions on Australian aid funding of family planning and maternal health overseas.

US President Barack Obama recently overturned the global gag rule that prohibited aid funding going family planning services.

“Australia is now the only country that continues to enforce these draconian restrictions on our aid programs,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“34,000 mothers die in our region alone per year because of a lack of maternal health support.

“Australia’s aid funding could be better used to reduce these alarming numbers. We need Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith to show compassion and to act now.

“The Minister has already had over 12 months to remove these restrictions, with no action to date. President Obama managed to do it within his first week in the job.

“The Greens hope that the Senate will support this motion, and compel the Government to immediately overturn this cruel and archaic policy.”

The text of the motion is below.

Media contact: Gemma Clark on 0427 604 760

That the Senate

(a) Notes:
i) The recent decision by US President Obama to overturn the global gag rule for family planning guidelines that effectively prohibits the use of aid funding for some contraceptives, and for abortion advice and services;
ii) Australia is now the only country that continues to enforce these harsh restrictions on our aid program, limiting its ability to provide an effective and essential family planning service; and

(b) Recognises:
i) The essential role mothers play in developing communities, with both maternal and child health considered crucial Millennium Development Goals;
ii) That an estimated 34,000 mothers dies in our region each year, due to the lack of maternal health supports available, with more than half of the 29 developing countries not on track to achieve either goal; and

(c) calls on the Rudd Government to stand up for women’s rights, and immediately abolish the family planning guidelines that prevent Australian aid money from being spent on contraception, and family planning advice.

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