Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chipping away at global access

As we all know, one of the great misnomers is that being anti-choice is somehow akin to holding a "pro-life" position. Yet under the so-called "pro-life" mantle, the Bush administration has extended its global policy in a way that will result in tens of thousands of additional abortions every year, as well as more women dying in childbirth.

In the last couple of weeks, the administration decided to cut off birth control supplies to some of the poorest women in the world. The U.S. Agency for International Development banned the supply of contraceptives to Marie Stopes International, one of the largest providers of health care and family planning to poor countries in Africa and Asia. You can learn more about the Bush ban, as well as the global outrage it has rightly garnered, by clicking here.

As reported in Nicholas Kristof's op-ed piece in today's New York Times:
"The irony and hypocricy of it is that this is a bone to the self-described 'pro-life' movement, but it will result in deaths to women who just want to space their births," said Dana Hovig, the chief executive of Marie Stopes International. The organization estimates that the result will be at least 157,000 additional unwanted pregnancies per year, leading to 62,000 additional abortions and 660 women dying in childbirth.
The cut-off in supply is predicated on the false assertion that Marie Stopes International has supported the use of forced abortions to enforce China's one-child policy. While the horrible reality is that China has used forced abortions in some of the poorest areas, the suggestion that Marie Stopes International participated is decidedly untrue.

The quote above may overstate the true numbers somewhat, since people in some of the larger African cities may have other access to contraception, but there is no doubt that the administration's actions will have devastating consequences in these nations. Marie Stopes International is the only provider of services in most rural areas, which leaves women in these areas with no viable alternatives.

McCain has supported Bush consistently on this issue, and there is no reason to believe he would reverse the administration's position in this case. This election not only has tremendous consequences to our own reproductive health, but it will directly affect the lives of millions of women globally.

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