Thursday, September 27, 2007

Global Gag Rule

I got this email from NARAL:

Legislation repealing Bush's global gag rule has been added to the FY '08 Foreign Operations spending bill. Your support right now could help pass the important bill and reinstate healthcare to millions of women

I remember first hearing about the global gag rule, but it was probably in those early days of the Bush presidency (in between his vacations and not paying attention to 9/11 warning memos) when I was a tender high school senior trying to get out of Oregon. And from what I've read since, I could say that it has something to do with family planning and not mentioning/ providing abortion overseas, and that it probably made no sense to me (being pro-women making their own choices). Since I don't know much about the policy, I especially wanted to link to this over at Pandagon. I love Amanda. She cuts through all the bullsh*t.

There are a number of things wrong with this argument, which is why I think more blogging would be helpful, just to get the truth out there.

1. C’mon! If it was true that we should ban every government program every nutjob has a moral issue with, we’d have no government programs. Plus, reasonable people have much more reasonable moral issues with things like war, and we’re not banning that any time soon. Why should be pander to crazies when reasonable people don’t even have a say in moral funding issues?

2. Withholding or opposing abortion is the immoral stance, taken out of a hostility to women’s health and women’s rights. Anti-choicers shouldn’t have the moral high ground, because they are wicked, petty assholes who want to increase the amount of suffering in the world to satisfy their misogyny. To be a truly moral person, you can’t exclude half the human race from your consideration.

3. The global gag rule isn’t just about abortion. That’s basically, in any realistic sense, a lie. It’s about withholding medical care and contraception. Even without it, the U.S. simply doesn’t fund abortions (though I think they should). It’s a backdoor way to deprive women worldwide of contraception and basic health care, since the people who provide those things pretty much by definition are good-hearted non-misogynists, and thus mostly believe as the logical and good-hearted generally do that abortion is a moral good.* The global gag rule is about giving the U.S. power to root through clinics worldwide looking for evidence of appalling levels of human feeling towards women and depriving them of funding if they find that someone’s committed the thought crime of believing that women should have full rights and options.

The last is the killer point: The global gag rule is about depriving peope of contraception, STD prevention, well baby care, after-abortion care, post-partum care, prenatal care, and gynecological care, all by pretending it’s about abortion... NARAL sent me a list of ways the global gag rule has been used to deprive people of basic health care.

* In Nepal, the government threw a 13-year-old rape victim in jail for having an illegal abortion. The Family Planning Association of Nepal used her case and others to advocate for the release of women in jail for having abortions. For this, they were deemed thought criminals in violation of the global gag rule and funding was terminated.
* In Kenya, funding is lean and mean, so having entirely separate facilities for abortion is pretty much impossible. Under the global gag rule, though, you can’t even have abortions under your roof, even if not a U.S. dollar goes for them. This rule has meant that the Family Planning Association of Kenya has cut its staff in half and closed down 3 clinics, one that had a huge well baby program and post-partum care. Depriving babies of medical care is another sign that pro-lifers don’t actually love babies. They just hate women.
* Planned Parenthood of Zambia was deprived of enough funding under this that they shut down 3 of 9 rural clinics, depriving all the people in that area of one of their few, in any, sources for affordable condoms.
* The Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia can’t refer women to abortion services or perform abortions, since abortion is illegal in Ethiopia. Still, they have lost half a million dollars that went pretty much strictly to providing condoms and contraceptives, because they have participated in educating the government in how illegal abortions contribute significantly to their high maternal mortality rate.

I hope this bill passes. I don't think the world really needs someone like Bush trying to push his brand of "morality" on those seeking basic reproductive services. Considering the world population and current AIDs rates, who the hell is against education and condoms, anyways?

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