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Christianity, Politics

America’s Religious Blackmail Abroad

2009 March For Life in Washington, DC), photo ...

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When I wrote about the Jimmy Carter Center’s Forum on Religion, Belief, and Women’s Rights, I raised the philosophical concern that the religious aren’t willing to examine their own shortcomings.  In a follow-up article,  I summarized the Biblical position on women’s rights.  Today, I’d like to call your attention to a real world implementation of “American Christian Values,” and how they are literally killing women all over the world.

It’s clear that many Republican Theocrats are perturbed by their inability to subvert Roe v. Wade domestically.  Kept largely secret is the fact that they routinely enforce their anti-choice agenda on much of the Third World, perpetuating a cycle of abuse against women, regardless of what local governments would prefer.

In many Third World countries,  the only options for safe abortions come from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).  In 1984, the U.S. instituted a policy of international blackmail, in which Family Planning Funding is only provided to NGOs which do not use their own private funding for abortion services, medical counseling, or referral services related to abortion.

To put that another way, the U.S. routinely tells impoverished Third World nations:  “We’ll give you money, but ONLY if you refuse to give women abortions or accurate health care information about abortions.  Can you think of a way that this is NOT blackmail?  I certainly can’t.

This is nothing less than a complete subversion of developing countries’ right to self government.  It is a religious dictatorship by proxy.  It is theocracy by blackmail.

Yemmi Samta didn’t know that her 14-year-old-daughter, Saron, was pregnant until she found her unconscious and bleeding profusely on the dirt floor of her ramshackle house. Samta begged a neighbor to load Saron onto a donkey cart and take her to the nearest clinic, 12 miles away. The girl died on the way from septicemia, a form of blood poisoning, and loss of blood. Saron had had a back alley abortion.

Since Reagan instituted the “Gag Rule” policy on foreign medical aid, enforcement has been delineated strictly by party.  Clinton and Obama have both refused to enforce the policy, while Reagan and both Bushes followed it strictly.  The Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R.4879/S.311), introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would end this practice permanently and ensure that countries wishing to allow abortion services will not be bullied into following America’s draconian religious dictates.  But don’t expect to hear about it on the news, and don’t expect much to come of it until and unless a significant proportion of Americans stand up for human rights abroad.

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