by PRI Correspondant
In launching the London Summit, Melinda Gates declared it to be “an important milestone in the history of family planning. We are bringing far more resources to this effort than ever before.”
This is certainly a true statement. Organized by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the summit, which opened today, is the opening kickoff for Gates’ campaign to raise $4bn worldwide to expand contraceptive and “reproductive health” services to 120 million of the world’s poor women by 2020.
Gates, who is Catholic, claims that “We are putting women at the very center of this issue.” Gates said that universal desire of mothers to give their children “every good thing” can only be fulfilled when access to contraceptives is universal, “and that’s why we’re all here.” No mention of Natural Family Planning, or abstinence here.
UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell claimed that women would not be forced to take contraceptives, saying that “an end was put to the idea of coercion” in family planning programs in Cairo in 1994. He continued, “It is not for me or any politician to decide how many children a woman should have.”
Perhaps not, but the UN Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation are both complicit in China’s one-child policy which, as everyone knows by now, is rife with horrific abuses. It is thus disingenuous for Ban Ki-Moon , Secretary General of the United Nations, to tell the summit attendees that he wants to ensure that “no child is born unwanted and no child dies needlessly.” Children in China die needlessly all the time, in counties where the UN Population Fund is in charge of the enforcement of the one-child policy.
There were no shortage of delegates from countries throughout Africa and Asia lining up for their share of the new money pledged by Gates. Ethiopia’s Minster of Health, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, led the way, saying that “key conditions for achieving real progress are aligned like never before.”
Ms. Anuradha Gupta, Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare addressed the summit saying that “considering we have more than 12 million giving birth in public health institutions alone, “ India is committed to providing a full range of contraception “absolutely free of cost” and her government wants to ensure the availability of contraception services “in every nook and corner of our large country.” Gupta said India’s government would be taking a “quantum jump on reproductive family planning in the next five years.” It should be pointed out that India’s “reproductive health/family planning programs are well known for abuses, such as forced sterilization.
During a panel discussion about integrating family planning with women and children’s health services and HIV management, Mr. Tweodros Melesse, Director General of IPPF said “integrating services improves quality, reduces stigma and increases access.” IPPF will be working to triple its service provision in the next 5 years “thereby preventing 46 million unintended pregnancies.” However reasonable this sounds, it should be noted that how “integration” works in practice is that women are denied medical care unless they agree to either contracept or undergo sterilization. Integration is a mechanism for coercion.
Indonesia Minister for People’s Welfare, Agung Laksono, announced that his government will include family planning within universal health program that will begin in January 2014 and it will increase funding for family planning programs, particularly “long-acting and permanent” methods. Of course, when a poor country says that it will increase funding for family planning programs, it is planning on using other people’s money, in this case Melinda Gates’ and Western taxpayers’.
Senegalese Minister of Health Dr. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, who also did not want to miss out on Gates’ largess, said “I commit to making family planning a top priority in our country.” She announced that the Senegalese government planned to double its budget for family planning and its aim to more than double the contraceptive prevalence from 12 to 27 per cent by 2015, particularly through community and private sector and “mobile outreach” programs supporting the use of “long-acting and permanent family planning methods.” As PRI research has shown, any time a government sets targets for ‘contraceptive prevalence,” as Coll-Seck has, abuses follow as surely as day follows night.
Coll-Seck also told the Summit that she is interested in new birth control methods and that Senegalese and Ugandan women will be used in experiments of a new injectable contraceptive. The practice of using developing world women as guinea pigs in medical experiments has a long history and is a violation of a U.S. law—the Tiahrt Amendment—that PRI helped to get passed. Private money, such as Gates’, is bound by no such restrictions.
Aside from the grant seekers, the contraceptive manufacturers, excited by the prospect of new markets for their products, were at the Summit in force as well. Pfizer Country Director for Nigeria, Enrico Liggeri, said the company is expanding the capacity for making Depo Provera, the 3-month injectable contraceptive, by 50%. “One billion doses of Depo Provera have been produced so far, and we are committed to making another one billion doses by 2020,” he said. No mention was made of the fact that steroidal contraceptives compromise a woman’s immune system and make her more likely to contract HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Antony Lowe, from the Dahua Pharmaceutical Company in China, was also there to tout his company’s contraceptive implant. It has been used by over 7 million women since 1996, Lowe claimed, although he did not say how many of these surgical implants were voluntary and how many were the result of the dictates of the one-child policy.
The USAID administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, chairing a panel on “donor commitments,” pointed out that the Obama administration has spent billions of dollars on abortifacient contraceptives since taking office in 2009. Shah said that the US directs $640 million annually towards international family planning programs that reach 83 million women worldwide. Shah also said that USAID is “happy to partner” with the Gates foundation to promote Depo Provera throughout the developing world.
The saddest note was struck by Kyo Hu Choo, the Korean Ambassador to Britain. Choo was introduced because his country, with 100% contraceptive prevalence rate, was said to be a “model for the world.” The South Korean population control program began in the 1960s at U.S. urging. Choo remarked, “Now we suffer from very low birth rate. There is some expert opinion that we overdid it.”
Overdid it, indeed. South Korea is losing people from year to year, filling more coffins than cradles. It says a lot about the anti-natal views of Melinda Gates and her coterie that this dying country should be a “model for the world.”