Jesurgislac’s Journal

February 24, 2010

Pro-life is what they call themselves, part 3

A woman in Nicaragua is dying of cancer. She’s in hospital, and the doctors are withholding treatment, because if they treat her cancer they kill the fetus: ordinary practice in countries which do not have pro-life legislation would be for the woman to have an abortion so that she can receive the treatment which will save her life.

Depending how far advanced the pregnancy is, it’s possible a woman might choose to refrain from chemotherapy until an early delivery can give both herself and her baby half a chance: but pro-lifers are unwilling to allow women to make that choice. Of course, throughout most of the pregnancy, it would make no difference to “saving the fetus” if the woman chose to have an abortion followed by chemotherapy to save her life, or opted to die of cancer along with the fetus: the fetus is dead either way. Only the pro-lifers think it’s better for the woman to die too.

The government of Nicaragua acknowledges that according to their own official figures this ban on abortion has done nothing but raise the maternal death rate – and they also acknowledge that the maternal death rate is considerably underreported. The ban on abortion in Nicaragua is enforced by a jail sentence on the woman and on the person performing the abortion: if a woman dies as a result of an illegal abortion, her death is unlikely to be recorded as such.

The pro-life law in Nicaragua makes no distinction about whether preventing an abortion will actually do anything to save the fetus: abortion is illegal without exceptions. A woman can go into hospital with an ectopic pregnancy, or dying of eclampsia, and Nicaraguan law – pro-life to the bitter end – says that both she and the fetus must die.

The woman has been in hospital since 12th February. A government commission will report on whether she can receive treatment for her cancer on 1st March. Whether that will be too late to save her life makes no difference under Nicaragua’s pro-life legislation: there are no exceptions for the health and wellbeing of the woman carrying the fetus, not even during the stages of pregnancy when death of the woman means death of fetus. That’s pro-lifer reasoning for you in a nutshell.

Amalia isn’t unique except that her situation is getting international attention. Amalia will die because of pro-life ideas that her life is worthless – she is merely a use-till-broke incubator in their eyes. Her ten-year-old daughter will be left motherless, but why should pro-lifers give a damn about that, either?

Nicaragua has had this rigidly pro-life law since 2006: it is openly acknowledged that Daniel Ortega had the law changed as part of his systematic efforts to get the Catholic Church on his side. Women in this scenario were just in the way, and God in this view of religion is indifferent to or hates women. It’s an ugly view of Christianity that pro-lifers give.

If you believe that women are human and ought not to be treated as slaves, breeding animals, or incubators, there’s a full list of contacts at reality check who might be able to help before it’s too late… if it’s not already.

January 24, 2009

Global Gag Rule: GONE

From IPAS:

First implemented in 1984 during the Reagan administration, the policy bans any organization receiving U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds from using their own, non-U.S. funds to provide any abortion services or to lobby their own governments to make abortion laws less restrictive. (The Helms Amendment, passed in 1974, made it illegal to use USAID funds for any abortion activities.)

President Clinton repealed this: President George W. Bush reinstated it. When Bush’s staffers complain that Bush didn’t get the “credit” for financing work against AIDS in Africa, they prefer not to consider that in November 2005, the Bush Administration formally expanded the Global Gag Rule to U.S. global AIDS funding under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), according to the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). The restrictions appeared as part of a five-year, $193 million request for applications (RFA) for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in Kenya: the RFA, entitled, “HIV/AIDS & Tuberculosis, treatment, care and support” referenced the gag rule twice in stating eligibility criteria, stating that all consortium partners must “agree, to abide by the Mexico City Policy [the official name of the global gag rule], the Tiahrt Amendment, and all USAID policies and regulations.” cite

From How a US policy restricting family planning funding is hampering efforts to fight HIV and AIDS by Kathambi Kinoti (Resource Net Friday File Issue 254, December 2005):

The global gag rule has disrupted the crucial HIV/AIDS intervention role of FPAK, Marie Stopes and numerous other organizations. Just as it is impossible to separate family planning services from efforts to fight HIV and AIDS, it is impossible to separate family planning services from abortion-related issues. When an anti-abortion muzzle is put on reproductive health providers, all the other beneficial seivices that they provide are eroded. Without adequate access to contraception and reproductive health care and education, the rate of both safe and unsafe abortions will increase. Most family planning centres also have to deal
with the after-effects of underground, unsafe abortions.

Pretending that the war against HIV/AIDS will be won when sex takes place within the confines of marriage is counterproductive, and restricting funding solely to organizations that promote the myth is lethal. It will result in a waste of money and the victory of HIV and AIDS.

There’ll be a lot of pro-lifers angrily protesting the repeal of the global gag rule across the right-wing blogosphere. Today, tomorrow, all year. They’ll call Obama the “pro-abortion President”. What these complaints about this repeal reveal is: these are people who do not give a damn about the lives of some of the poorest women in the world. They do not care if women in Ethiopia, Nepal and Nigeria lost access to family planning clinics. They do not care about the sixty thousand or more women each year who die from illegal abortions.

All they want is to sit in their safe little houses rubbing themselves up with their sense of superior morality that, by God, their taxes don’t go to pay for clinics that also provide abortions! They are, in the classic sense, Pharisees: indifferent to anything but their own feelings of moral superiority.

Dr Gill Greer, the director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, estimated the gag rule had cost the group more than $100m for family planning and sexual and reproductive health programmes during the eight years of the Bush administration, which she said amounted to 36 million unplanned pregnancies and 15 million induced abortions. These pro-lifers will try to claim they support the global gag rule because they oppose abortion… proving them either liars, or stupid.

“The gag rule has done immense harm and caused untold suffering to millions around the world. It has undermined health systems and endangered the lives and health of the poorest and most vulnerable women on the planet by denying access to life saving family planning, sexual and reproductive health and HIV services and exposing them to the dangers of unsafe abortion.”cite

The global gag rule is gone. Nothing can undo the damage Bush did by reinstating it and enforcing it, especially in Africa where his extension took so much money away from useful anti-AIDS programs – how many people became infected with HIV because Bush wanted to pander to the Christian right? – but it’s gone, and the world is better for it.

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