One woman is a victim of daily
defamation from the right: Susan B. Anthony. The name and image of the
iconic suffragist have been used to promote the anti-woman, anti-choice
campaigns of a group that calls itself the "Susan B. Anthony List."
Clearly, they hope that co-opting the name of the famous woman’s rights
leader will camouflage their anti-woman agenda. It should then come as
no surprise that the same group is now maligning and defaming (though
not yet co-opting) the name of another woman’s rights leader, Hillary
The "Susan B. Anthony List" claims Clinton, as Obama’s Secretary of
State, will "promote abortion" around the world. According to their November 30 press release,
"Clinton will join Obama in promoting taxpayer funding of international
abortions through a revocation of the Mexico City Policy and restoring
funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The UNFPA has been implicated in supporting China’s coercive one-child
family planning policy that involves forced abortions and
Defamation is a tool of the anti-choice establishment. Its campaign against UNFPA
was one of its most sinister. It was, in effect, a campaign against the
most desperate women, babies and families of the world.
Anti-contraception groups, like the "Susan B. Anthony List," with the
help of the all-too-willing President Bush managed to freeze $161
million of U.S. funds to UNFPA. This "pro-life" victory resulted in
millions of infant deaths, over a hundred thousand mothers dying during
childbirth, as well as millions more unintended pregnancies and
abortions worldwide. With an Obama presidency, sadly for "pro-life"
groups, this trend will end. But the pro-lie movement against UNFPA
Hillary has been a big supporter of UNFPA, and for good reason. The
UN is, despite press reports to the contrary, primarily a relief
agency. It provides assistance to those living in the most dangerous
and unstable places on earth. The role of UNFPA, one of its agencies,
is to provide lifesaving interventions in the reproductive field:
delivering babies, creating healthy births, ensuring that women are
well enough to become mothers again, and giving families the methods to
space children. (These, by the way, are goals that Susan B. Anthony
certainly would have endorsed.)
UNFPA does not provide abortion. In fact, the organization states explicitly,
"UNFPA…does not provide support for abortion services." Instead,
UNFPA is the supplier of 41 percent of the world’s total needed
contraceptive (or prevention) services. It does this all on a meager
budget, $500 million, provided by nations that believe in its mission.
UNFPA is by many standards a model of what the UN does well. It has a
tremendous impact on the people in greatest need, and it does so on a
shoestring. As economist Jeffrey Sachs,
author of The End of Poverty and, according to Time magazine, one of
the world’s one hundred most influential people, explained, "UNFPA’s
work is absolutely vital."
Sadly, the organization’s good work providing people in poor
countries the ability to plan a pregnancy put it on a collision course
with the U.S. anti-family planning movement. While domestically, our
anti-sex fundamentalists tend to act covertly to roll back access to
birth control, they act brazenly abroad. In Kosovo they characterized
UNFPA’s efforts to provide emergency contraception to female refugees
who had been raped and wanted to prevent pregnancy as "ethnic cleansing
" and "genocide." They followed UNFPA workers into Iraq to suggest the
emergency obstetric care clinics it was constructing and staffing was
instead the headquarters for an "abortion jihad."
This heckling of humanitarian relief efforts is coordinated by a group based in Front Royal, Virginia, the Population Research Institute (PRI). When Bush took office, PRI saw its opportunity. The staff of six was imaginative. In 2002, they amplified their slander campaign against UNFPA claiming it was working with the Chinese government to enforce its coercive one-child policy.
The truth was the very opposite. UNFPA was working with the Chinese
government to prove that voluntary family planning would lead to better
outcomes for Chinese citizens as well as the Chinese government. In
fact, UNFPA was having lots of success
persuading the Chinese to relax their coercive and brutal one-child
policy, the goal of their work there. It had even documented a dramatic
decline in abortion rates in the Chinese counties it focused, from 24
percent to 10 percent. (To put this in context, the current abortion rate in the U.S. is 21 percent.)
Just when UNFPA was succeeding in proving to the Chinese the one-child
policy was not only inhumane but also ineffective, PRI swooped in with
its claims of complicity. Bush, eager to lock lips with his fanatical
base, ignored the advice of his own state department, as well as many
allied nations, and opted to go with the swirly eyed lunacy of the six
staffers of PRI. At their request, Bush quickly froze all U.S. funds to
UNFPA, which represented 12 percent of its budget.
Since the accusations were made, over 145 diplomats have looked into
the spurious claims made by PRI. Not one investigator has been able to
validate PRI’s accusations against UNFPA.
Nonetheless, UNFPA has not received U.S. funding since 2002,
amounting to a loss of $161 million dollars. Many countries have
appealed to the U.S. to restore funding to UNFPA, including UN ambassadors from more than 50 countries who
explained that "The least developed countries, 34 of which are in
Africa, receive the bulk of UNFPA funding and will be most affected."
Thanks to our "pro-life" movement, the US holds the ignoble distinction
of being the only country to ever withhold funds to UNFPA for political
The effects of U.S. policy are tangible. Johns Hopkins researchers have estimated the magnitude.
According to the researchers, the loss of funding to UNFPA has resulted
in 1.9 million infant deaths, 135,000 maternal deaths, 60 million
unintended pregnancies, 25 million abortions.
Anita Rahman, president of Americans for UNFPA,
an organization formed to educate the American public about the impact
this U.S. religious fundamentalist plot has had on women, babies and
families worldwide, once said, "We dream of the day when the United
States government will once again contribute financially to UNFPA and
be part of the international community’s work to promote the health and
dignity of women everywhere." With Obama and Clinton guiding foreign
policy, that dream will come true. Meanwhile, the "pro-life" movement
plots another nightmare.