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Stop Global Gendercide
When Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, tweeted last week about having dinner with President Obama during his visit to Austin, I was reminded of a similar tweet she'd posted in March. It read: "Celebrating 100th anniv of intnatl womens day at white house w First Lady Michelle Obama - viva strong women!"
The relationship between Michelle Obama, the first African-American First Lady, and Cecile Richards, the president of the largest abortion agency in the country, is tragically ironic. Nationally, abortion is decimating the black population. Globally, abortion is decimating the female population.
In researching a new page that outlines the connection between abortion and female gendercide, I spent part of last week reading Half the Sky, a book by New York Times reporters, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, which exposes many of the global abuses being leveled against women. The book has quickly gained a wide readership and boasts ringing endorsements from Tom Brokaw, Melinda Gates, Anne Rice, George Clooney, and Angelina Jolie. A TV version is set to air on PBS next year. The New York Times book review declares that Half the Sky "tackles atrocities and indignities from sex trafficking to maternal mortality, from obstetric fistulas to acid attacks, and absorbing the fusillade of horrors can feel like an assault of its own."
The Times review goes on to note how surprising some of Kristof and Wudunn's findings are–not least of which is how often the systematic abuse of women is perpetrated by other women. Which brings me back to Michelle Obama. The fact that our first lady is a black woman who publicly supports abortion will be reason enough for many people to reject the idea that abortion poses a unique threat to the black population or the female population. As evidenced by the findings in Half the Sky, that would be a very wrong conclusion to draw. If women around the world can advocate practices that are intrinsically abusive to their own gender, it's certainly possible for Michelle Obama to advocate a practice that is disproportionately abusive both to her gender and her race.
There is much to commend in Half the Sky, but as a Christian who vehemently opposes abortion, there is also plenty to take issue with. As noted in the text of our new Abortion and Gendercide page, the authors give token recognition to abortion's role in the global disappearance of women, but can't mask their own ideological support for abortion. They even list the Center for Reproductive Rights in their appendix of "Organizations Supporting Women"–a group dedicated to ensuring that abortion is recognized as "a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect." Their distaste for the Bible (and biblical morality) also surfaces with some frequency, as evidenced by the following quotes from the book:
"Paradoxically, it is the countries with the most straitlaced and sexually conservative societies, such as India, Pakistan, and Iran, that have disproportionately large numbers of forced prostitutes. Since young men in those societies rarely sleep with their girlfriends, it has become acceptable for them to relive their sexual frustrations with prostitutes."
"The cult of virginity has been exceptionally widespread… the Bible advocate[s] stoning girls to death when they fail to bleed on their wedding sheets."
"The paradox of honor killings is that societies with the most rigid moral codes end up sanctioning behavior that is supremely immoral: murder."
"[Rose Wanjera] became one of the untold victims of American abortion politics that effectively eliminated her only source of health care (because George W. Bush cut off funds to Marie Stopes for performing abortions in China)… People around the country were exasperated by the social conservatives' campaigns against reproductive health (abortion)–the defunding of UNFPA, the denunciations of condoms and comprehensive sex education, the attempts to cut off support for family planning by aid groups like Marie Stopes International–and they were eager to do something concrete to help."
"All in all, Muhammad comes across in the Koran and the traditions associated with him as much more respectful of women than early Christian leaders. After all, the apostle Paul wanted women to keep silent in church."
"Jesus did not address slavery at all in the Gospels; Saint Paul… accepted it."
Because of the author's obvious antagonism towards biblical authority and their subtle digs against Christian morality, the following statements struck me as particularly significant. They are certainly not made by Christian apologists and refute the frequent claims that Christians are self-righteous hypocrites who only care about building up their own empires.
"Religious conservatives have fought against condom distribution and battled funding for UNFPA, but they have also saved lives in vast numbers by underwriting and operating clinics in some of the neediest parts of Africa and Asia. When you travel in the poorest countries in Africa, you repeatedly find diplomats, UN staff, and aid organizations in the capitals or big cities. And then you go to the remote villages and towns where Western help is most needed, and aid workers are suddenly scarce. Doctors Without Borders works heroically in remote areas, and so do some other secular groups. But the people you almost inevitably encounter are the missionary doctors and church-sponsored aid workers."
"All told, some 25 percent of AIDS care worldwide is provided by church-related groups."
"Pentecostalism and other conservative evangelical denominations discourage drinking and adultery, and these are both practices that have caused tremendous hardship to African women in particular."
"It's because of encouragement from evangelics, including Michael Gerson, a former White House chief speech writer, that George W. Bush sponsored his presidential initiative to fight AIDS–the best single thing he ever did, arguably saving more than 9 million lives."
"Liberals [should] emulate the willingness of many evangelicals to tithe–to donate 10 percent of their incomes each year to charity. The Index of Global Philanthropy calculates that U.S. religious organization give $5.4 billion annually to developing countries, more than twice as much as is given by U.S. foundations."
"Arthur Brooks, an economist, has found that the one third of Americans who attend worship services at least once a week are 'inarguably more charitable in every measurable way' than the two thirds who are less religious."
"Of the countries where women are held back and subjected to systematic abuses such as honor killings and genital cutting, a very large proportion are predominantly Muslim… Hinduism has similar problems, not to mention vicious burnings of brides by their new families."
"We tend to think of Latin America, with its legacy of machismo, as a man's world. But Mexico and other Latin countries actually do pretty well at educating girls and keeping them alive. Most Latin nations have populations that are majority female. Maternity hospitals even in poor neighborhoods of South American cities such as Bogotá and Quito provide free prenatal care and delivery, because saving women's lives is considered by society to be a priority."
"The United Nations Population Fund has estimated that there are 5,000 honor killings a year, almost all in the Muslim world."
"Honor killings, sexual slavery, and genital cutting may seem to Western readers to be tragic but inevitable in a world far, far away. In much the same way, slavery was once widely viewed by many decent Europeans and Americans as a regrettable but ineluctable feature of human life. It was just one more horror that had existed for thousands of years. But then in the 1780s a few indignant Britons, led by William Wilberforce, decided that slavery was so offensive that they had to abolish it. And they did."
I'll close with some statements that are extremely insightful for those of us working to eliminate abortion as well as some (made by political liberals, remember) that are counter-intuitive to normal, liberal ideology.
"Female infanticide persists in many countries, and often it is mothers who kill their own daughters. Dr. Michael H. Stone, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and expert on infanticide, obtained data on Pakistani women who killed their daughters. He found that they usually did so because their husbands threatened to divorce them if they kept the girl."
"Visit clinics in Estonia, where abortions were widely used as a form of birth control, where some women had ten or more abortions, and you see the resulting high levels of infertility and other complications."
"Contraception programs have a modest effect in reducing fertility, but still less than supporters expect."
"We're great admirers of Bono… Yet when Bono spoke at an international conference in Tanzania in 2007, he was heckled by some Africans who insisted that aid isn't what Africa needs and that he should back off. Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan, complained about the calamitous consequences of 'the international cocktail of good intentions.' James Shikwati of Kenya has pleaded with Western donors: For God's sake, please just stop.'"
"Capitalism, it turns out, can achieve what charity and good intentions sometimes cannot."
"If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries… if we're trying to figure out how to get more girls in school, or how to save more women from dying in childbirth, the simplest solution is to reallocate spending."
"Implicit in what we're saying about China is something that sounds shocking to many American: Sweatshops have given women a boost."
"Unable to see how she would ever feed the baby, and hating its unknown father for having raped her, Claudine abandoned it to die. 'But my heart wouldn't allow me to do that,' she said. 'So I went back and picked up my baby.'"
"This is our culture!" a Sudanese midwife declared angrily when we asked about cutting. "We all want it. Why is it America's business?"
"Sex trafficking and mass rape should no more be seen as women's issues than slavery was a black issue or the Holocaust was a Jewish issue. These are all humanitarian concerns, transcending any one race, gender, or creed."
"For more than half a century, the British public bore tremendous costs for their moral leadership… It was a heroic example of a nation placing its values above its interests… (built on) a meticulous effort to explain to the English exactly what conditions were like on slave ships and plantations…. Clarkson undertook enormous risks to move clandestinely through ports in Liverpool and Bristol where slaving ships docked, to talk to seamen and to gather evidence about the trade. Clarkson acquired manacles, branding irons, thumbscrews, leg shackles, and gruesome implements that were used to force a slave jaws open… Clarkson obtained a diagram of a Liverpool slave ship, the Brookes, and made posters showing how it was loaded with 482 slaves. That image became the icon of the abolitionist movement... when British public opinion confronted what it meant to pack human beings into the hold of a ship–the stink, the disease, the corpses, those bloody manacles–citizens recoiled and turned against slavery. It's a useful lesson that what ultimately mattered wasn't just the abolitionists' passion and moral conviction but also the meticulously amassed evidence of barbarity."
"We are neurologically constructed so that we gain huge personal dividends from altruism."
To learn more about the connection between abortion and global gendercide, make sure to take a look at our new Abortion and Gendercide page. To help bring this issue to light among those around you, take a look at Abort73's new Gendercide shirts, graphics and downloadable flyers.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.