AssistantAdministrator for Global Health Dr. Kent Hill, has banned cooperation with UK-based Marie Stopes International (MSI), one of the worlds largest purveyors of abortions, on the grounds that it is complicit in “coercive abortion and involuntary sterilizations” in China. MSI denies that it supports China’s coercive policies, but its aggressive promotion of abortion, and its longstanding collaboration with China’s coercive program leave little doubt that it is not only aware of the massive human rights abuses that have resulted in that country, but is actively collaborating with it.
The USAID instruction, which PRI applauds, will force cutbacks in MSI’s population control programs in a number of African countries, including Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. MSI’s claims that woman in these countries “will be left with few options other than abortion” is particularly risible, coming as it does from the very agency that is responsible for many of the abortions that are performed in Africa in the first place. PRI investigators, for example, have demonstrated that MSI, through its network of clinics, is one of the biggest abortion actors in Kenya. For MSI to claim, as it does, that Dr. Hill’s order will result in “unsafe abortions” with the “likely result” of women’s “death or disability” is not only a gross exaggeration, but should be taken as self-criticism. It is not the Bush Administration’s fault if African women and girls die in MSI’s clinics. It is the fault of the organization itself.
U.S. law prohibits US foreign aid from flowing to any organisation that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization”. This law, called the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, dates back to President Ronald Reagan, who first invoked the law to deny funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because of its complicity with China’s one-child policies. PRI President Steven Mosher worked closely with the Reagan Administration both on the passage of the law in the mid-eighties, and its later application to organizations like the UN Population Fund and Marie Stopes International.
The Bush Administration reviewed UNFPA’s activities upon taking office in 2001, and initially determined that the UN Population Fund was not in violation of Kemp-Kasten, providing $21.5 million to UNFPA. The Bush Administration reversed course, however, following PRI’s groundbreaking investigation of UNFPA’s activities in China later that year. Presented with unimpeachable evidence regarding the UNFPA’s involvement in forced abortions and forced sterilizations in one of its “model family planning counties,” in July 2002 President Bush invoked Kemp-Kasten and cancelled the $34 million appropriated by Congress for UNFPA in fiscal year 2002. Each year thereafter this prohibition has been extended, because of UNFPA’s continued flagrant involvement in the most coercive population control program the world has ever known.
The Bush Administration is to be congratulated for its consistent enforcement of a policy that is supported by the vast majority of the American people–a policy in which PRI is proud to have played a part — and which benefits women and girls by defunding predatory agencies which seek to rob them of their fertility. Marie Stopes International needs to decide what its purpose is: performing abortions, often in violation of national laws, or providing legitimate health care to women