We always knew that the GOP candidates’ views on reproductive rights were not exactly forward thinking, but the comments of Ryan and Romney on abortion strike fear into the hearts of women around the world. Particularly Ryan has been vocal about abortion rights this week.
‘“I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life”
This sentence didn’t come from some obscure far-right loon. It came from the man who could be Vice President of the United States of America, Paul Ryan.
The old adage, ‘just a heart beat from the Presidency’ strikes fear into the hearts of women worldwide. The thought that this man would have any say in American politics is bad enough. That Ryan could join Mitt Romney in the White House is simply terrifying.
Rape is just another method of conception and should not be treated differently from pregnancy as a result of consensual sex. It is utterly mind-boggling that a person with these views should be on the GOP ticket for election to the Presidency.
Not only the American women fear a Romney/Ryan presidency. When I visited Kenya this summer, every person we asked about the upcoming US election expressed deep concern about the effects that would be felt in their country, and in other countries that rely on foreign aid.
“We’re not sleeping at night.” She added, “If Mitt Romney did win – oh please do not talk about it.”
Kenyan women suffered after Bush reinstated the Global Gag Rule. During the Clinton years, the maternal mortality rate (ie. pregnancy and birth related deaths) was falling. That decline flatlined when Bush denied clinics around the world funding if any part of their organisation funded abortion.
Reducing funding to these project had an immediate detrimental effect on the lives of millions of people around the globe.
Funding for projects that have nothing to do with abortion were cut, simply because the organisation funded abortions elsewhere. Clinics offering family planning, child health, maternal health, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, even malaria treatment saw their funding stopped.
How did these cuts affect the women in Kenya?
According to research by EngenderHealth, the two leading health care providers Marie Stopes International (MSI) and Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK) had their funding cut. This led to the closing of two clinics by MSI and raising of prices and laying off of staff in further clinics. FPAK were forced to close half of their clinics, which affected the following services:
…family planning (including the provision of emergency contraception), vol-
untary counseling and testing (VCT) for HIV/AIDS, management of sexually transmitted infections,
pharmaceutical services, laboratory services, post-abortion care, maternal and child health services,
Pap smear tests, minor surgery, and well–baby services. Following the closure of these clinics in
2005, at least 9,000 people – primarily women and children – were left with little or no access to
In many areas, these clinics were the only source of health care for the population. As I noted when we were in Nyanza district, the doctor who accompanied us as we observed HIV testing, spotted a potential life-threatening infection in a child.
The health care professionals in Kenya don’t just see the patient. They do not reduce it to a simple black and white of, ‘I am here to do a HIV test, not to check the health of the children’. Of course they don’t. Do do that would be immoral.
They look at the family as a whole and see what they can do to benefit the lives of this family. To improve their health and living conditions.
Bundling health care into packages to suit the moral code of a far away American politician is madness.
I respect those who do not agree in abortion. I think they are wrong but they are entitled to their opinion. They are NOT entitled to tell me or any other woman what to do with my body. They are NOT entitled to withdraw funding from communities so that they are left with no health care.
How do these people reconcile their great Christian faith with allowing men, women and children to perish, because they have no health care?
The withdrawal of funding ‘crippled’ Kenya’s primary health care providers, and undermined HIV/AIDS prevention. George W Bush was obviously aware of this, as he introduced PEPFAR in 2003 which has done so much to save lives.
Around a third of pregnancy related deaths in Kenya are a result of unsafe abortion. Pregnancy can be prevented by the use of contraception. When you reduce funding, clinics close and women cannot access family planning. Which of course means more unwanted pregnancies, leading – yes, you guessed MORE UNSAFE ABORTIONS.
And more deaths.
Is it any wonder that the developing world is watching the US election run up with such trepidation? If Romney and Ryan step into the White House as President and VP, one of the first acts is likely to be the re-instatement of the Global Gag Rule, meaning a return to unsafe abortion for women around the globe.