This is long, but bear with me.
Ever since I became active in the Church sixteen years ago, I've read countless disturbing stories of the Western world (us!) imposing unethical and even brutal "reproductive health" policies on the world's poor. What upsets me most is how pro-abortion agencies with money and power -- including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and America under the Obama administration -- put out the lie (happily supported by a pro-abortion media) that these poor brown folk "need" birth control and abortion to escape their bleak conditions. We've even had commenters on this site echo that leftist line, one of whom said of a (hypothetical) starving girl in Africa:
Wonderful blogger Sarah has a friend, Maria, who recently came back from the missions in Central America. Maria has firsthand knowledge of the exploitation of poor women and girls at the hands of the "family planners", and despite the fact that she is a busy (and tired!) new mom, Maria was gracious enough to email me some of her background and what she witnessed:
My husband and I have been to Central America twice, both times with the Missioners of Christ. In the summer of 2009, we were there for 10 weeks, and in the fall/winter of 2010, we were there for 3.5 months. (The second time, we were planning on being there for over a year, but we found out we were pregnant, and the Missioners aren't really set up to handle families with babies...)
The Missioners of Christ have a permanent mission set up in Comayagua, Honduras, so we spent a majority of our time there. We ventured to Guatemala for language school on both trips -- we were centered there out of a city called Antigua, Guatemala. I can speak more specifically about Honduras, but both countries (like all of Central America) are pretty similar. We spent a lot of time in our neighborhood with the people, who are very poor, as well as time in remote mountain villages. My husband is a carpenter and I am a nurse.
I really hate it when people in the First World try to simplify poverty in the Third World as merely an overpopulation issue. Poverty is a complex issue! It usually involves corrupt governments, food shortages, wars, etc.* But, secular media and Planned Parenthood have succeeded in fooling us into believing that "if they would merely control themselves and stop procreating, they wouldn't be so poor." Wow... doesn't that shut off our compassion for the suffering poor in the world? It suddenly becomes, in a sense, their FAULT that they are poor. And, in a condescending sort of way, we offer them contraception and abortion as a solution to their poverty.
And -- has it worked? Hahahahahahahaha! (That was supposed to be an evil laugh.)
Of course, I can only speak from my experiences in Honduras and Guatemala -- but I can tell you, there was no shortage of clinics offering contraception to anyone who walked in the door. They were called "Clinicas de Planification Familiar" (Family Planning Clinics) -- wow, sounds shocking similar to "Planned Parenthood", no? Anyway, these clinics are mysteriously WELL funded, when other, general clinics are not.
So, basically, if a woman wanted contraception, or an abortion, or to be sterilized, she would be able to find a clinic with relative ease, be immediately ushered in to a clean and beautiful facility, and pay almost nothing for the service.
However, if this same woman had a sick child needing antibiotics, she could spend the day waiting in line outside a dirty, underfunded public clinic, and maybe not even get seen that day. If she did get seen, she would have to pay a fee for the doctor visit... perhaps have to walk across town to the lab for testing (in Honduras the labs and the clinics are frequently not connected) and pay for that service, then return to the clinic, wait in line again to receive some sort of diagnosis and/or treatment, then, perhaps, walk again to a pharmacy for medication, and, of course, pay for that as well. Messed up.
Some missionaries in our group have heard women tell stories about being involuntarily sterilized by "Medical Missions" that we suspect were tied to Planned Parenthood. In one rural village, a woman told a story that she, being pregnant at the time, received an injection from a nurse with one of these "Medical Missions." She was told it was for her unborn baby. Several other women in the same circumstance also received the injection. Within several weeks, all of the women miscarried. In the years that followed, none of them were able to get pregnant again. In rural Honduras, the people are all farmers. They rely on having large families to divide the work… so, when we push our Culture of Death on them, we are destroying THEIR culture. It's such an evil agenda. Horrible.
In town, the public hospitals only receive money from the government if something like 70% of the women who are discharged after having a baby are either on contraception or sterilized. (Makes me wonder where the Honduran government gets those funds…? Hillary Clinton**?) So many women are uneducated in Honduras, and therefore, don't understand what was happening to them at the hospital... or perhaps they aren't even told. Several women have shown up at the "San Benito" Clinic (near our mission, a Catholic facility operated by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal), wondering why they couldn't get pregnant again after having a child at the public hospital. The doctor performed an ultrasound, and found IUDs placed in their uteruses. Each of the women reported not knowing that it had been placed.
Can you imagine if such things occurred in the U.S.? Talk about a multi-million dollar lawsuit. But sadly, in Honduras, the general public very much have a sense of "shame" about them. They often will humbly and blindly accept whatever an authority figure does without question. While their humility is SO admirable, and often Christ-like, it is SO abused, as you can see.
I could probably go on... but I'm on baby-duty today :-)
After I read Maria's words, I went downstairs to fix breakfast. As I stewed over the injustice done to the world's poor in the name of "helping" them (and often with my tax money!), I providentially picked up a random magazine in my kitchen and started flipping through it. It was a Knights of Columbus magazine, Columbia, and inside there was an article by Steven Mosher, which you can read in its entirety here. For over three decades, Mosher has chronicled the unspeakable human rights violations wrought by "population control" advocates around the globe. His article amply confirmed Maria's experiences and included this quote from Dr. Stephan Karanja, the former secretary-general of the Kenyan Medical Association:
Our health sector is collapsed. Thousands of the Kenyan people will die of malaria, the treatment for which costs a few cents, in health facilities whose shelves are stocked to the ceiling with millions of dollars with of pills, IUDs, Norplant, Depo-Provera, and so on, most of which are supplied with American money.
As an American, that makes me sick.
The article goes on to say that when "reproductive health" money pours into the Third World through the UNFPA and IPPF, the doctors in those poor countries (who have their own families to feed!) "abandon primary health care in favor of 'family planning.' Clinics are transformed into 'family planning' stations, where the only readily available medical care involves contraception, sterilization and abortion."
Shame on the wealthy West for promoting and financing this evil! But then again, how would the average American know that the poorest of the poor are being manipulated, exploited, deceived and violated? Unless we are plugged into pro-life sources, how would we ever hear? Most of us only know what we learn through the lens of the left, usually in the news or in the classroom where we are taught that "reproductive health" (widespread contraception, sterilization and abortion) is the key to ending poverty.
It's overwhelming to consider the scope of the lies that are sold and believed around the world. And it can seem ridiculous to think that one little blog post can make any difference at all. But I have to live by the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, who served the poor lovingly, unceasingly, never violating their human dignity:
"God has not called us to be successful. He has called us to be faithful."
*Read more about the overpopulation myth, here.
**Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously hinted that funds to help save mothers' lives in the Third World might be held up unless those countries signed on to the pro-abortion agenda of the Obama administration! More on that injustice here.