Questionable solutions to overpopulation
Right to Life
When I think of government-sponsored human rights violations, the first examples that come to mind are China, with its well documented abuses, and Milosevic's reign of terror in Kosovo. Thanks to the advent of technology and mass media we are made aware of and confronted by these atrocities every time we check the latest news reports. It is interesting however, that despite the ability of the media to cover a vast range of topics with great depth they miss some of the most blatant human rights violations. Those that are quietly condoned and sometimes supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
In 1998 the U.S. Congress withdrew all financial support to the UNFPA as a reaction to its complicit support of China's one-child-per-family policy. Under Beijing's law a woman who has one child must have an IUD inserted. A woman with two children must be sterilized and if a woman is known to be pregnant with a second or third child, she must have an abortion. Despite the loss of the $25 million in funds the UNFPA has yet to withdraw itself from China's grotesque population control mechanism.
In an effort to regain financial support the UNFPA has claimed its lack of funding has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths among mothers in developing countries. Without proper funding it claims it has not been able to adequately provide access to contraceptives or abortion. Its misguided emphasis on contraceptives as a means to improve mother and child mortality rates is evident in their budget breakdown for their activities in Nigeria. From 1993-1997, $840,482 dollars were spent on three community reproductive health service projects for the distribution of contraceptives. Also, $6,151,00 dollars were spent for seven Maternal and Child Health/Family Planning projects, which were also designed to facilitate the availability of birth control. Only $373,000 dollars were allocated for a safe motherhood project to improve the birthing process while $658,000 dollars were spent on the Family Health Soap Opera Television show. Seven other projects were established to conduct research and information on population control policies under a $3.3 million dollar budget. The UNFPA claims the goal of these programs is to reduce maternal mortality. Dr. Robert Walley, who is the founder of Matercare International and an obstetrician-gynecologist and has worked in Africa for many years points out the ineffectiveness of the UNFPA's campaign:
"The promotion by governments, their funding agencies and international health organizations of what is now known as `reproductive health,' which is simply a euphemism for abortion and contraception. It is estimated that billions of dollars are spent by our governments and private agencies on birth control programs, but only a small fraction is spent on emergency obstetric care which would help mothers survive their pregnancies. To be a maternal death, a mother must be pregnant. The question is how do birth control pills or condoms help a mother with obstructed labor or a postpartum hemorrhage. In my experience the women who die want to be mothers but are poor, young and have no influential voice to speak on their behalf. [They] are denied emergency care which is readily available and inexpensive. This is culpable neglect by our world which has no concern for what a UNICEF report on maternal mortality."
Obviously the real goal of the UNFPA is to reduce the number of babies born in developing countries through contraception and sterilization; any claim of improving maternal mortality is only a public relations ploy. At the core of the UNFPA's policies is an overbearing, selfish attitude that is focused on self-gratification and the manipulation of those of lesser power. This attitude is manifested by the idea that forced sterilization, abortions and the pervasiveness of contraception are all done for the good of the people, while in reality they dehumanize those in need of help. This imperialistic attitude is common among the UNFPA types. During the recent UNFPA Haque Forum, George Foulkes of the United Kingdom said "We need to make contraceptives and condoms as easy to get hold of in the developing countries as a can of Coca-Cola." Similarly Hillary Clinton speaking on Oct. 18, 1997, on the role of women in Buenos Aires said "the only road to improve the life of women is the massive promotion of contraceptive methods."
In order to avoid the sacrifice of genuinely helping the poor these people seek to aleve their feelings of guilt by supporting a plan which requires no effort or commitment. In this way they strive only to satisfy their personal needs with complete disregard to the real needs of the poor.
By withdrawing our funding of the UNFPA, the U.S. has made a good first step; however the UNFPA attitude still persists among many in our culture. A sincere expression of generosity and selflessness is required to counter this attitude. In order to bring an end to the human rights abuses of the UNFPA and similar organizations we must demonstrate true love of neighbor and follow the challenge given to us by Mother Theresa in her Nobel prize acceptance speech. "This year being the child's year: What have we done for the child? At the beginning of the year I told, I spoke everywhere and I said: let us ensure this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted. And today is the end of the year. Have we really made the children wanted?"
Justin Kempf is a senior engineering major. The Right to Life column runs every other Tuesday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, November 23, 1999