Australians oppose restrictions on aid for sexual and reproductive health

April 19, 2017

New research shows Australians strongly support our commitment to providing important health services to women in Pacific Island nations. Women in the Pacific region die at up to 10 times the rate of Australian women from cervical canceri and 34 times the rate of Australians when giving birthii.

The research, released today, shows 89% of Australians believe women in Pacific Island countries should have access to health services such as contraception, cervical cancer screening and family planning and about 70% of Australians believe our foreign aid budget should support Pacific Island countries to provide these services.

The research also shows about 70% of Australians would be concerned if Australia introduced a Global Gag Rule that stopped or reduced aid to groups that provide family planning and sexual and reproductive health services in Pacific Island countries.

Family Planning NSW CEO A/Prof Ann Brassil said the research sets the tone as the Federal Budget nears completion and release on May 3, 2017.

"The research shows Australians oppose the US Global Gag Rule and would not want our government to implement a similar hit to services in developing countries like the Pacific Islands," she said.

"The reintroduction of the US Global Gag Rule by the Trump Administration is promoted as being an anti-abortion policy but it affects up to $9.5billion worth of funding for family planning, contraception, HIV, maternal health, cervical cancer screening and vaccinations.

"Australian aid to the Pacific Island region saves lives, delivers vital health services and empowers women to make choices about their reproductive and sexual health. It's vital Australia continues and grows its annual $12.4million commitment in this area."

Social commentator Dr Rebecca Huntley has come out in support of the cause.

"The Pacific has some of the worst reproductive and sexual health outcomes globally, with high rates of maternal and infant deaths, unintended and teenage pregnancies, sexual violence and unacceptably high rates of cervical cancer deaths," Dr Huntley said. 

"Australians have long held an affinity with supporting our closest neighbours in the Pacific and we know our international funding for sexual and reproductive health is a value for money program with every $1 spent being equal to an overall investment of around $120iii."

"Bringing vaccines, maternal health care, family planning and cervical cancer screening to the region is the intent of men and women across Australia."

Family Planning NSW currently works in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste, training local health workers and clinicians to deliver family planning services, improving access to contraception and educating communities about reproductive and sexual health.

Australians can show their support for the continued delivery of life-saving health services to women in the Pacific before the Budget is finalised on May 1 and released on May 3, 2017.

https://www.fpnsw.org.au/stand-with-us

Link to the research report: https://www.fpnsw.org.au/sites/default/files/assets/Essential-Report-GGR.pdf

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