From the American People: Prevent Unintended Pregnancies
I've spent the weekend in meetings with people at the State Department. An organization that I work with is busy lobbying and coordinating local activism for an increased emphasis on maternal health in the developing world.
(In other words, we are shoring up the international centers for a culture of life before the next Clinton administration lambasts the third world with its tailored agenda for population control... but you did not hear that from me.)
The rampant lie that has got to be confronted, and quickly, is the international community's equation of "maternal health" with "the right to abortion on demand." Did anyone catch how eery and weird that idea is?
Cross- reference the top five priorities of one of our nation's most innocuous agencies, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Its goals are tenderly addressed to its readers from all of us- "from the American people." Apparently we have Five Key Strategies to Prevent Maternal Mortality. The #1 priority is to "Prevent Unintended Pregnancies with Provision of High Quality Voluntary Family Planning Services." (Read: this is a proposal for lots of abortion clinics and experimental contraceptive techonologies delivered to the homes of young women in African townships). At the bottom of the list, we find Priority #4: "Strengthen Health Systems," which involves good things like funding basic health care for poor women, training midwives, increasing monitoring of health services in poor hospitals, and providing basic nutrition and clean water to expecting mothers. And lastly? Priority #5: "Tackle the Social Determinants of Maternal Mortality:" supporting women's education, delaying forced marriage and early childbearing, and expanding access to income generation skills. You can see the whole thing here.
I don't mean to jump to conclusions, but is there not something rather wrong with our list of priorities for women in the developing world? At the bottom of our list are goals for their education and access to basic nutrition. At the top of our to-do list is a clause encouraging our own money-making drug companies to provide cheap abortificants to young women in troubled countries.
(Possible subtext? From the American People: "do whatever you like, but don't trouble us about your need to eat or read. And for God's sake, don't make any more of you.")
And by the way, three cheers for all the benefits of militant western feminism. Way to go.
This is not the heart of God for young mothers; this cannot constitute the "message" of any Christian in the West to other precious persons among the nations, because we understand that they are made in the image of the Father, and are called by the Holy Spirit into eternal fellowship with the Son. Good grief.
So, we are going to get busy. We are going to fight any western NGO that actively lectures its local constituency about what their contraception rate should be. We are going to engage the seductive ploys of our "reproductive health" people who whisk African young women who are training to be midwives off to gorgeous hotels in Geneva to be trained to perform abortions as part of their "maternal health strategy." We are going to question the bogus research that denies any connection between abortion and its long-term effects on women (breast cancer and ensuing premature births), and we are going to challenge stats that report infant mortality rates without including the numbers of babies who have died from their mother's abortions in the third world. In short, we are going to follow the money.
Furthermore: we are going to locate effective, local, true maternal health clinics on the ground in the developing world and work to increase their funding so that they can provide for maternal health without compromise: trained birth attendants, vitamins, ultrasounds, the life-saving antiobiotics that can be provided to at-risk mothers for $2 a day. We are going to question whether a mother's "right" to choose to kill her unborn child really ought to trump the child's right to take its first breath, or the physician's right to refuse to perform an abortion. We are going to applaud the Missionaries of Charity in word and deed. We are going to network young women in the developing world into their own communities for promoting advocacy, education and midwifery skills within their local areas. We are going to show the world what it means to love, rather than kill, the least of these.
(... I wonder how many anti abortion Christian homes have a spare room in which a needy, expectant mother could be cared for while she foregoes abortion and carries her child to term... I have been thinking a lot about this. These, days, everything matters.)