Obama Reverses Bush Ban On Contraceptive Supplies to Leading Int’l Family Planning Organization

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today reversed a Bush Administration policy to block African governments from providing U.S.-funded contraceptive commodities to Marie Stopes International (MSI), one of the world’s leading family planning organisations.  Restoring U.S. support will allow women to exercise their basic human rights while helping them avoid unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions and reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

The ban imposed by Bush as part of a full-on attack on women’s access to contraception worldwide disrupted MSI operations in six of the affected countries – Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe – including some where MSI delivers nearly a third of all family planning services nationally.

According to MSI chief executive Dana Hovig: 

“Today’s policy reversal is the latest example of the Obama Administration’s commitment to put people before politics [and] a sign of [it’s] determination to return science to the heart of US public health policy.”

Hovig noted that lack of access to modern contraception contributes to the deaths each year of more than half a million women – or 1,500 per day – from pregnancy-related causes.  

Nearly one in four women in sub-Saharan Africa express a need for family planning services but do not have access.  Hovig states: 

“There has been clear evidence over many years that voluntary access to contraception is one of the best ways to reduce the number of maternal deaths in Africa, including those from unsafe abortions.  Research has shown that for every 100 IUDs made available to our programmes as a result of this decision, we will avert nearly 315 unwanted pregnancies, 45 unsafe abortions and two maternal deaths.”

The Bush Administration justified its September 2008 policy by falsely accusing MSI of being complicit in “coercive abortion and involuntary sterilizations” through its role as implementing partner to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in China.

Globally, MSI manages sexual and reproductive health programmes in 43
countries. In 2008 alone, MSI programmes protected the equivalent of 13
million couples from unwanted pregnancy, a 40% increase over 2006 and
the single largest two-year growth in the organisation’s 32 year
history. A majority of MSI’s family planning efforts are in rural,
underserved areas where women are particularly vulnerable and lives are
most at risk from unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion.

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  • invalid-0

    This post is totally disingenuous.

    MSI has a role as implementing partner to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in China, which has seen local officials rely on campaigns of forced abortions, involuntary sterilizations and other human rights abuses to enforce the one-child rule.

    You fail to note that the Bush administration offered to continue funding the program through the other groups, but they chose to remain loyal to Marie Stopes and its pro-abortion agenda and refused the money.

    So the whole thing is a political decision by MSI to refuse the money because it also refused to stop doing abortions and working with the Chinese.

    To cast it as a decision by the Bush adminsitration as failing women is both erroneous and absurd.

    You also fail to note that the maternal mortality deaths could be prevented from providing third world countries with the kind of quality health care that drives down maternal mortality in other first-world nations, including those that ban abortions.

    According tofigures from the United Nations Populations Division, nations with laws legalizing abortion have not seen a corresponding drop in the rate of maternal deaths.

    The “World Mortality Report: 2005” shows Russia, where abortion has long been considered a form of birth control, has a maternal mortality rate of 67 deaths for every 100,000 births.

    The rate is 17 deaths for every 100,000 births in the United States, which also has very permissive abortion laws.

    On the other hand, pro-life Ireland and Poland have lower rates. Ireland has the lowest maternal mortality rate with just 5 deaths for every 100,000 births. Poland’s is also lower with 13 deaths for every 100,000 births.

    Legal abortions also do not decrease infant mortality, even when the number of abortions is subtracted from the number of infant deaths.

    Ireland has the lowest rate at 6 deaths for every 1,000 live births, both Poland and the U.S. are at 7 deaths for every 1,000 live babies born, and pro-abrotion Russia has the highest at 12 deaths per 1,000 babies born.

    More recently, in February, the Human Rights Council (which backs abortion) noted the strides made in the area of maternal health in Malaysia. This is significant in view of Malaysia’s comparatively strict abortion policies.

    Highlighted at the Human Rights Council meeting was the World Development Report 2006, published by the World Bank, which indicated that, by making midwives widely available in rural areas, Malaysia dramatically reduced maternal mortality rates.

    That, of course, is a pro-birth, not a pro-abortion or pro-contraception policy. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone — helping women have a healthy birth drives down maternal mortality, not more abortion. Yet another proof that pro-life=pro-woman.

    • invalid-0

      unfortunately pro-life does not = quality of life and increases poverty on the only inhabitable yet unsustainable planet of nearly 7 billion