USAID Halts Supply of Contraceptives to Marie Stopes in Six African Countries

The US
government has ordered the six African nations to halt the supply of
USAID-provided contraceptives to the international reproductive
health organization Marie Stopes International (MSI), on the grounds that MSI works
with the Chinese government, whom the US State Department accuses of "coercive abortion and involuntary

The USAID mandate will affect contraceptive services in Ghana, Malawi,
Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda
and Zimbabwe.  MSI is a major distributor of contraceptive
supplies and family planning services in those countries. "At a time when world governments have
pledged to increase their commitment to improving the health of women, only the
Bush Administration could find logic in the idea that they can somehow reduce
abortion and promote choice for women in China by causing more abortion and
gutting choice for women in Africa," Dana Hovig, MSI chief executive
said in a statement. "This senseless
decision is likely to have only one clear consequence: the death of African
women and girls. And the Bush Administration should answer for that."

MSI firmly maintains that the organization does not support
coercive abortion or sterilization in China.

President Bush relies on the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which
stipulates that the US
government may not provide funding to organizations known to provide coercive
abortion or involuntary sterilization, to excuse his refusal to fulfill the US’s
obligation of $34 million in funding annually to UNFPA.  (Bush’s own State Department found no evidence
that UNFPA was involved in any involuntary family planning programs in China.)  In June, Population Action International’s Craig
Lasher warned RH Reality Check readers
that the Bush administration was
considering using Kemp-Kasten to withhold funds from other organizations who
work in China.
Lasher called attention to a statement
made by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, "During the course of our
evaluation of UNFPA’s work, we learned of other organizations that conduct
activities in China.
The relevant funding agencies are conducting a comprehensive analysis to
determine what appropriate and lawful actions can be taken.

Apparently, Negroponte wasn’t kidding. More information will be added as soon as we have it.

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  • scott-swenson

    Why is it that the women in developing countries always suffer at the hands of ideologues, who by the way, themselves work very closely with China — selling our growing debt to them. This isn’t principle, it’s more of the same hypocrisy we’ve come to expect from pro-life ideologues and the partisan division they create in government that makes it unworkable in moments of crisis.

    Contraception is under attack abroad and at home by the policies of the far-right politicians who, like Sarah Palin, probably “support contraception personally” — but it is the policies that matter and once again we see how harmful these policies are in parts of the world that need our compassion and our help the most.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor