President Bush delivered
the State of the Union Address last week.
He warned us about isolationism. About avoiding problems overseas.
"To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, and the drug trade.
In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our country. I urge Members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America."
But has this actually been the case?
In January, 2001, shortly after being elected President, Bush re-activated the "Mexico City Policy" that denied family planning clinics in Africa and elsewhere, caring for impoverished African women, access to funds from the United States if they counseled for or provided funds for abortion.
As the President himself decreed
"January 22, 2001
MEMORANDUM FOR THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
SUBJECT: Restoration of the Mexico City Policy
The Mexico City Policy announced by President Reagan in 1984 required nongovernmental organizations to agree as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds that such organizations would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations. This policy was in effect until it was rescinded on January 22, 1993.
It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad. It is therefore my belief that the Mexico City Policy should be restored. Accordingly, I hereby rescind the "Memorandum for the Acting Administrator of the Agency for International Development, Subject: AID Family Planning Grants/Mexico City Policy," dated January 22, 1993, and I direct the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to reinstate in full all of the requirements of the Mexico City Policy in effect on January 19, 1993.
GEORGE W. BUSH
# # #
And yet what has been the effect of this misguided policy? Have African women started using abstinence only to deal with their pregnancy plans? Have they been putting these unwanted children up for adoption for anxious American families seeking children?
In fact, something far worse has been transpiring.
"While proponents of the gag rule maintain that its imposition is necessary to reduce the number of abortions, research shows that it accomplishes just the opposite. The restrictions cause more unplanned pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, and more deaths and injuries of vulnerable women and girls. In addition, it makes no distinction between the varied and sometimes tragic circumstances that lead women to seek an abortion. Whether women and girls are rape victims, HIV positive or simply too young to have a child, the policies of the United States give them only one choice: to continue an unwanted and potentially deadly pregnancy or risk their lives by self-induced or otherwise unsafe abortions. The underlying message of the gag rule is that women's lives simply do not matter."
Hilary Fyfe knows about the "Global Gag Rule".
Ms. Fyfe is the chair of the Family Life Movement of Zambia. Her organization lost funding from the United States.
"I think they are killing these women, just as if they are pointing a gun and shooting. There is no difference," said Hilary Fyfe, chair of the Family Life Movement of Zambia. Her organization opposes abortion, but still lost approximately $30,000 in U.S. funds for telling adolescents and young adults that unsafe and potentially fatal abortions are one possible consequence of unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancies.
The report, titled "Access Denied," is the first to document the effects of the policy on health services delivery around the world. The policy was reinstated by President Bush on January 22, 2001 and marked the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized abortion in the United States. Three vocal critics of the policy, Population Action International, Ipas, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, put together the report based on interviews and field research conducted since the policy was reinstated.
"When we counsel, we have to talk about abortion. You can't do counseling on reproductive health without talking about the whole business," Fyfe said by phone from Washington, D.C. where she is helping publicize the new report. "We were told, 'you talk about abortion, you're out,'" she said.
To retain funding, grantees must certify that they will comply with the rule barring discussion of abortion.
In 2000, Fyfe's organization counseled adolescents and families in nine provinces in Zambia, offering information on birth control, family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention. They had to cut services in four provinces due to the funding cuts. Planned Parenthood of Zambia also scaled back programs when it lost 24 percent of its funding, according to the report.
In Kenya, a total of five family planning clinics, two affiliated with Marie Stopes International, have been forced to close, the report said.
A state department official pointed out that these organizations had made the choice not to comply with the policy and could have kept their funding had they chosen to comply. The official also pointed out that the amount of money distributed by USAID has not been reduced and that USAID is committed to spending it through other programs and organizations that agree to comply with the Mexico City policy.
Organizations receiving U.S. funds are also prohibited from promoting the liberalization of abortion laws in their country. "It denies organizations the ability to participate in an important policy decision in their country," said Amare Bedada, executive director of the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
The association lost 12 percent of its funding directly and another 25 percent that it received from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which also refused to comply with the policy. The Ethiopian association curtailed programs, lost members of their senior staff and ran short on donated contraceptives due to the policy.
In Ethiopia, abortion is permitted when the mother's life or health is in grave danger. Legislators there are debating liberalizing those restrictions. The World Health Organization estimates that one in seven Ethiopian women die from pregnancy-related complications. According to the Ministry of Health, unsafe abortion is the fifth leading cause of maternal death in Ethiopia.
In Zambia, women are permitted to have an abortion if three doctors write letters saying that her life or health is in danger. In practice, said Fyfe, this is a requirement that few women can satisfy. "They end up dying, either from the pregnancy or from an abortion induced by themselves," Fyfe said.
In Romania, women have an average of 2.2 abortions and regard birth control methods with suspicion due to long indoctrination by Soviet administrations. Family planning organizations that signed the rule can not partner with abortion providers, hindering family planning advocates that try to reach women who undergo multiple abortions in the absence of information on alternatives.
Rule Cuts Condom Distribution
Bedada's organization also provides contraceptive services and HIV/AIDS prevention counseling, traveling into isolated rural communities to treat women who could not make the arduous and time-consuming trip into a town.
"The whole rural program came to a standstill," said Bedada, who has joined Fyfe in trying to publicize the damaging affects of the rule. "It is jeopardizing the programs we have been doing for 37 years," he said.
Both Bedada and Fyfe cited in particular shortages of condoms. Increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among adolescents and young adults, has led to a growing demand for latex condoms--a demand these organizations can no longer meet. "There are condoms in the shops, but young people can't afford them," said Fyfe.
Fyfe would send those interested in condoms to Planned Parenthood affiliates in her area, but those affiliates are running short of condoms because the International Planned Parenthood Federation based in London lost $20 million in USAID funds when it refused to sign the rule. The USAID donations of cash and supplies, including condoms, made up about one-fifth of the federation's annual budget.
The agency and the United Nations Population Fund are the largest donors of contraceptive supplies, including condoms, to the developing world. The agency is the most important single donor, delivering about one-third of all donated supplies, worth about U.S. $75 million. (In a separate action, the administration eliminated $32 million in support for the U.N. fund as well.)
By 2002, the policy had cut off shipments of USAID-donated supplies to 16 developing countries, according to the report, because the only recipients in those countries were members of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. The leading family planning organizations in 13 other countries, including Ethiopia and Zambia, were also cut off."
And this is about "Family Values"? This is about some "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Leave it to Beaver" naive Americans forcing their ignorant and insensitive values on those who have the most to lose. Causing death, illness and suffering among the poor in Africa!
This denial of abortion services to the poorest of the poor has led to at least 70,000 deaths every year by women forced to utilize backstreet abortionists as estimated by the World Health Organization
Since we export such a short-sighted foreign policy that places women at high risk, it was good news to read that England would provide funds for these services that have been denied
by the United States!
There are still some areas of the world that still believe that providing medical services for women is a human rights issue. As reported
The UK is to give £3m to organisations denied US aid for providing safe abortions in developing countries.
International Development Minister Gareth Thomas said he hoped the move would persuade other nations to step in and help prevent thousands of deaths.
The World Health Organisation estimates backstreet abortionists cause 70,000 "agonising" deaths every year.
America and the world deserves better!
The article explains:
Since US President George W Bush imposed this so-called "global gag" rule in 2001, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) has had to close dozens of clinics.
But with Britain's £3m it will set up the Global Safe Abortion Programme to improve access to safe abortion services and "support other partners that have had to cut back on reproductive health services because of the impact of the gag rule".
The IPPF says 19 million women can be spared serious injury, illness or death if safe and legal abortions are accessible alongside other health services.
At present, 13% of maternal deaths worldwide are due to unsafe abortions - 60% in some countries.
America must do better!
We don't need our Allies helping us out to cover for our failures! We need an American foreign policy in line with the needs of women and children and the needy in Africa and around the world.
Senator John Kerry has stated
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry recognized 10th anniversary of ICPD, saying, “We must do more to address the needs of women, to ensure they and their children live healthy lives.” Sen. Kerry said that as president, he would reaffirm America’s “leading role” in fighting for women’s rights, adding, “I will repeal burdensome restrictions on family planning, restore U.S. funding to [UNFPA] and double U.S. funding to fight AIDS.” Kerry also commended the world leaders who committed their support to the goals of the Cairo conference.
America needs a President who lives in the 21st Century and not in the Dark Ages!
We need leadership that works to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and educate the ignorant. We don't need to export our own Puritanical view of sex to the rest of the world suffering from backstreet abortions, AIDS, and sexual exploitation of women.
America Deserves Better! We have your back John! Keep on coming!