New York Times
Killing Them Softly
Nicholas D. Kristof
The complete article has been reprinted on the Reproductive Health for Refugees Consortium's
... The Bush administration announced a few weeks ago that it was halting payments to the Reproductive
Health for Refugees Consortium because, it said, one of the seven charities in the consortium was linked to abortions in China.
... Even before the latest cuts for aid to refugees, the Kenyan program of Marie Stopes International had already
had to close two clinics and lay off 80 doctors and nurses because the Bush administration had applied its "gag rule" (no
money to groups that mention abortions) and cut off grants for it.
So because of White House maneuvering, girls and women in Africa's shantytowns are losing programs that offer them
prenatal checkups, well-baby care, childbirth and family-planning assistance, and, above all, help fighting AIDS.
Complications of pregnancy and childbirth kill a quarter-million African women each year, and those deaths are
what the refugee consortium is trying to prevent. I visited five Marie Stopes clinics in Kenya, spoke to the patients
and front-line doctors, and found them to be a lifeline for destitute girls and women who have few alternatives. ...
It was horribly discouraging, as work here in the slums often is. The doctors and nurses in these clinics are fighting
AIDS, rape, sexually transmitted diseases and genital mutilation of girls, and instead of being hailed as heroes, they're
denigrated and stripped of funds by White House ideologues who don't know what an African slum is. ...
"Bush does not realize how many people are going to suffer," Mr. Awiti said. "If you don't give money to the consortium,
does he know how many deaths he will cause?" ...
© 2003 Reproductive Health for Refugees Consortium
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a statement
by Gloria Feldt, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America on Access Denied; U.S. Restrictions on International
Family Planning (http://www.globalgagrule.org):
When President Bush imposed the global gag rule hours after his inauguration in 2001,
he said, "American taxpayers don't want their money going to pay for abortions in developing countries." But if he'd
read this report, he would know that our money doesn't go to pay for abortions in developing countries. In fact it will cause
more women to seek abortions because fewer women will have access to family planning services that prevent abortions.
Because of Bush's policy, the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association no longer
receives condoms from the United States - even though it has perhaps the highest HIV-infection rate in Africa. Women in Nairobi,
Kenya, may have to go without basic healthcare because the only nearby health clinic was forced to close. And in Romania,
women continue to die from unsafe though legal abortions because family planning providers can not talk about abortion with
Perhaps what the president meant to say was, "Americans are willing to risk the lives
of millions of women and children to ensure they are never able to have a safe abortion." Or that "Americans don't believe
that we should be paying for poor women in poor countries to have birth control or better health care." But that also would
not have been true. In fact, most American voters oppose the global gag rule. And nearly 70 percent of American voters
believe that the United States should be supporting the very programs discussed here this morning - on a par with support
for the war against terrorism.
So if Americans support international family planning, and oppose the global gag
rule, how can this policy have lasted so long? The administration has had some success in masking its extremist agenda with
feel-good talk about supporting women's health and human rights. But with facts like those revealed in this report, it is
becoming harder and harder for the Bush administration to hide behind its words.
We can and will overturn this wrongheaded policy. But it will require the combined
efforts of committed individuals and organizations the world over, calling on Congress and this administration not to turn
its back on the women and children who are paying the ultimate price.
© 2003 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/