Sunday, November 10, 2013

December 2, 2013. Unethical Medical Practice Congressional Hearings. Washington, D.C.

Dear Doctors, Civil Rights and Human Rights Legal Advocates:

As leaders seeking solutions to health disparities and reproductive justice for women in the U.S. and globally, it is my deep pleasure to inform you that on December 3rd, 2013, Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) will hold a two-hour Congressional Hearing on Unethical Medical Practices (see attached summary).

For example, in the U.S., whereas less than 2% of white women are injected with the dangerous drug Depo Provera (DMPA), Blacks, Latinas, low-income and vulnerable women & girls of all races are predominantly targeted and injected without knowledge of FDA warnings of lethal harm, and without informed consent. In sharp contrast, use of injectable contraceptives in Europe is virtually nonexistent but they still maintain the lowest rates of pregnancies in the world.

Witnesses will discuss the unethical use of Depo Provera in targeted Black communities with high HIV rates with inadequate clinics and hospitals.  Depo Provera significantly increases HIV/AIDS infections and breast cancer. The discussion will also include Norplant, which was pulled from U.S. markets in 2002 after multimillion dollar settlements by Pfizer. However, Norplant is still implanted in economically deprived women globally as part of US Family planning policy. Pfizer evades US litigation by licensing Norplant to European corporation Bayer, and Norplant is promoted by global health Foundations and the Population Council to Africans and other emerging markets (discussed on pages 4 and 13 in DMPA policy report).

Congressman Smith’s hearing on December 3rd, follows a Congressional Briefing held by Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-MO): “Black Box Warnings to Protect Black Women.” At that briefing on September 20th 2013, Hon. Clay emphatically stated the need to end the unethical practice of misleading women about Depo Provera’s serious harm. Cong. Lacy Clay is on the Oversight and Government Reform committee, Vice Chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
We thank you for supporting our crucial transformative work to end harmful, racist and classist, US Depo Provera family planning policy.  We give special thanks to Reproductive Health funders, Shira Saperstein & Mary Ann Stein of the Moriah Fund for supporting the critical resistance needed by Jewish civil rights organizations (ACRI & others) to end racist Depo Provera policies in Israel to protect and restore the dignity of Africans and Black Jews.

For more questions about the Hearing please contact Gregory Simpkins, Staff Director for Congressman Chris Smith at 202-225-6217 / .  Witnesses and room number will be announced two weeks before Hearing. A second hearing is being planned with the Judiciary Committee. Thank you.

Hon. Congressman Christopher Smith is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. Some highlights of his human rights record are: Chris Smith voted against his party to support sanctions against South Africa to help end Apartheid; Smith authored the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to combat global human trafficking, and is an ardent advocate for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); and Rep. Smith has advocated for billions in HIV/AIDS health funding and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief PEPFAR.

Kwame Fosu
Policy Director
Rebecca Project for Human Rights
2029 P Street, NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20036

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