Fantasy Testimony to the Republican House of Representatives about UNFPA Funding

April 11, 2011 • Family Planning, Female Genital Mutilation, Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Jane Roberts for this OpEd.  See

My Fantasy Testimony to the Republican House of Representatives about UNFPA.

Reader diary posted by Jane Roberts, 34 Million Friends of UNFPA

February 23, 2011 – 2:43pm

I wrote this in my head at 4 a.m. this morning. I’d love to see it in the Congressional Record. It should blow if not change a few minds.

Quite honestly, your vote to disallow a U.S. allocation to the United Nations Population Fund shows your utter lack of discernment, your ignorance about the function of UNFPA, and your willingness to believe the lies of Chris Smith over the consensus in the world that women’s health, education, and human rights are at the core of any chance in the future for people, the planet and peace. (Nothing like starting with a bang!)

Did you know that UNFPA is the humanitarian agency of the United Nations to which the greatest number of countries contribute? All of our allies and long time “friends” contribute. They are quite frankly baffled and appalled by your short sighted politically motivated mean spiritedness.

Did you know that UNFPA does not participate in abortion but only offers the family planning that all of us take for granted? Have you ever used family planning? Yeah, I thought so.

As co-founder of 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, I visited a UNFPA clinic in Senegal. A 22 year old woman had just given birth to her fourth baby. She and the baby were anemic.  So UNFPA was going to counsel her and her husband about the possible use of contraception. Is that OK with you?

Do something for me. Watch an 80 second video at Family planning i.e. contraception is a great gift of the 20th and 21st centuries.  It saves women’s and children’s lives and makes a huge, I mean HUGE, contribution to maternal health. UNFPA is the largest supplier of family planning commodities in the world.

I’m going to keep you busy. Read a little book: “I Am Nujood Age 10 and Divorced.” I actually sent a copy to Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen.  Borrow hers.  For all the truly courageous Nujoods of the world there are thousands of children and adolescents girls who languish in early forced marriages. If you are a woman, go back to when you were 13 and imagine the terror of your adult age new husband approaching the marriage bed. UNFPA has put out a heart-rending video: Too Brief a Child, Voices of Married Adolescents.

Child marriage, female genital mutilation with the resultant hard scar tissue, and the unavailability of C-sections are three basic causes of obstetric fistula. In the 19th century, there used to be a fistula hospital where the Waldorf Astoria hotel now stands. Thanks to 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, the Point G hospital in Bamako, Mali has an additional operating room for fistula. At least a few Mali women no longer walk around with urine and/or feces dripping on their feet!

And UNFPA trains doctors in fistula surgery techniques and in rural areas where country sponsored services are not available, UNFPA-trained doctors are available 24/7 for emergency obstetric care. Has anyone in your family ever needed a C-section?

And about FGM, well, UNFPA along with religious, tribal, and political leaders the world over are persuading whole villages to abandon the practice which causes such long term harm to so many girls and women. Is anything wrong with that?

Have you ever heard of the Millennium Development Goals? Adopted in 2000 at the United Nations, they are a blueprint for an acceptable future. Number 4 deals with child mortality. About 9 million kids under 5 die every year from myriad causes, but forty percent of these 9 million die in their first month. The main reason is that their mothers were absolutely not healthy enough for a full term normal pregnancy. Their little 3 pound babies come onto the earth and then just fade away. Take care of mothers!

Number 5 of the MDGs states simply “Improve Maternal Health”. That’s what UNFPA  does. It improves maternal health.  It prevents maternal mortality, urges young people to avoid risky sexual behavior, offers the family planning which prevents millions of abortions, and tries to stem the tide of gender based violence. What is wrong with you!

Let’s talk some more about abortion. Of the 200 million pregnancies in the world every year, twenty percent end in abortion. That’s 40 million! Of those, half are legal, therefore safe. And yet, where there are laws against abortion, twenty million women use horrific means to have a self-induced abortion or seek out flim flam abortion providers. These illegal abortions cause tens of thousands of deaths and about 5 million cases every year of injuries, hemorrhages, and infections necessitating post abortion care. When have laws against abortion ever worked? Never!  And yet self righteous, and in many cases hypocritical politicians like yourselves keep trying.  If the men among you could become pregnant, they would support access to family planning and safe abortion to the hilt!

I’ll bet a lot of you voted to defund Planned Parenthood this week. I wrote the following letter to three newspapers in my area concerning my Congressman Jerry Lewis who voted for H.R. 217.

“Our Congressman Jerry Lewis voted with the majority of the House of Representatives for H.R. 217 which bans all funds to Planned Parenthood. If Planned Parenthood is defunded by our government this will mean more abortions, higher federal health care costs, and a swelling of welfare rolls. Planned Parenthood with its family planning services prevents more abortions than all the “pro-life” preachers and politicians combined. It spends three percent of its budget (none of it from taxes) on its abortion services.

I graduated from San Diego High School in 1958. The “knocked up” girls went to Tijuana. Is that what we want? Thank goodness that today, for whatever reason, women and girls of limited financial capabilities can access basic health services such as family planning, pap smears, breast exams and pre-natal care through Planned Parenthood. And for whatever reason, they can access a legal therefore safe abortion and get on with their lives.  I have lost all respect for Congressman Lewis.”

You see, your votes against Planned Parenthood and against UNFPA are not attacks on these organizations so much as they are attacks on women, most of whom don’t have financial means and out there in the world are totally bereft, who need reproductive health services. That is despicable. There is no other word for it.

So grow up. You really are acting like children. In his heart of hearts Jerry Lewis knows that he just followed the party line, the path of least resistance. What a coward!

Well, I hope I have blown a few minds if not changed them. Come on you guys. Motherhood is the most joyous, life affirming experience one can have. Help make it that way for all women everywhere.

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