Saturday 14 July 2012

David Cameron pits himself against the pro-life movement

Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking at the London Summit on Family PlanningBelow are some quick-fire rebuttals by Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, to David Cameron's keynote speech to Melinda Gates' London Summit on Family Planning last Wednesday. Some of Anthony's other quick-fire comments on the Summit can be read via SPUC's Twitter feed at Earlier in the week, SPUC issued a series of press releases and videos containing detailed arguments against the population control agenda behind the summit - see:
(David Cameron's words are marked DC and Anthony's words AO.)
  • DC: "We’re here for a very simple reason: women should be able to decide freely, and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they have."
  • AO: Women can do this without contraception. The summit is about convincing women that they should avoid having children.
  • DC: "This is not something nice to have. Some sort of add on to our wider development goals."
  • AO: By prioritising contraception, the Department for International Development (DFID) is neglecting real development goals e.g. food.
  • DC: "It’s absolutely fundamental to any hope of tackling poverty in our world."
  • AO: There is no proof that contraception helps to tackle poverty. There is considerable evidence that large family sizes and growing populations help lift nations out of poverty.
  • DC: "Why? Because a country can’t develop properly when its young women are dying from unintended pregnancies and when its children are dying in infancy."
  • AO: Women don’t die from pregnancies. Pregnancy is a healthy outcome of a natural process. Women die from lack of basic healthcare. Contraception can’t save children from dying in infancy. It’s healthcare not contraception that saves lives.
  • DC: "As a result of this Summit, in the next eight years we will avert an unintended pregnancy every two seconds and 212,000 fewer women and girls will die in pregnancy and childbirth. That alone, frankly, is a good enough reason for us to be here."
  • AO: These are figures made up by the abortion-contraception lobby to justify its eugenics and population control agendas.
  • DC: "But there’s another reason why family planning is so important for development. When a woman is prevented from choosing when to have children it’s not just a violation of her human rights it can fundamentally compromise her chances in life, and the opportunities for her children."
  • AO: The issue of forced pregnancy (e.g. through rape or following a forced marriage) is a separate issue from contraception. This wrong is being cynically exploited by the abortion-contraception lobby to justify its eugenics and population control agendas.
  • DC: "Without access to family planning, pregnancy will often come far too early. In Sierra Leone, for example, a UNICEF survey found that a staggering two-fifths of girls give birth for the first time between the ages of 12 and 14. These young girls are not ready physically, emotionally or financially to become mothers. They don’t want to give up school or the chance to go on and run a business and build a better life for themselves."
  • AO: The evil there is statutory rape. Providing contraception will simply allow the rapists and child-marriage criminals to further their crimes.
  • DC: "And yet suddenly their dreams are broken as they become trapped in a potentially life-threatening pregnancy. Even if they survive, many are left with catastrophic scarring."
  • AO: Again, it is irrational to depict pregnancy, a healthy outcome of a natural process, to be life-threatening. Lack of basic healthcare is life-threatening.
  • DC: "They struggle to bring up children that are healthy and educated and they are likely to have many more children than they have the resources to look after."
  • AO: I thought the point of international development was to help mothers raise healthy and educated children and provide resources for them.
  • DC: "It’s a simple fact that as countries get richer, women generally have fewer children."
  • AO: Increases in population lead to countries become richer. The improvement in health following population-driven prosperity means that fewer children die and therefore couples are less driven to achieve more pregnancies.
  • DC: "And by concentrating their resources on a smaller number of children those children are healthier, better educated and more likely get a job and build a prosperous future for themselves and their own children. Family planning helps that process along."
  • AO: It simply doesn’t work like that. Smaller families result in fewer resources, because it leads to future shortfalls in workers who create profit, pay taxes, make products, care for the elderly etc.
  • DC: "The availability of contraception enables women to decide to have fewer children."
  • AO: Contraception has a massive real-world failure-rate.
  • DC: "And as fertility rates decline, having fewer children to support can help the economy to grow."
  • AO: Not true. The 20th century proved that economies grow as population rises.
  • DC: "We should be pragmatic about what works."
  • AO: Indeed. Contraception is based instead on the ideologies of sexual liberalism and eugenics.
  • DC: "In East and Southeast Asia, this reduction in children accounted for more than two-fifths of the growth in per capita GDP between 1970 and 2000. In Matlab in Bangladesh, a twenty year study found that a family planning programme together with improved support for maternal and child health led not just to smaller, healthier families but also to women being better educated and earning more and their families owning more assets with the average value of an educated woman’s home as much as a fifth higher than for women in nearby villages where this programme hadn’t been introduced. So we know this works. So family planning works not just because smaller families can be healthier and wealthier but because empowering women is the key to growing economies and healthy open societies -unlocking what I call the golden thread of development."
  • AO: Whole swathes of Asia are now ageing rapidly with no hope in sight. Korea is a dying society, filling more graves than cradles. Japan is the most rapidly ageing society in the world, with a elderly-care crisis with no solution. China is predicted to be the world’s first developing country that will become old before it becomes rich. Yes, support for maternal and child health and for education makes societies healthier and wealthier. But contraception impoverishes.
  • DC: "The UK government is taking a whole new approach to development. We know that in the long term we cannot help countries develop just by giving them money. Development cannot be done to the poor by outsiders. It has to be driven by the people who need the change. Our role is to help the poorest countries create the building blocks of private sector growth and prosperity. These building blocks are the same the world over. No conflict, access to markets, transparency, property rights, the rule of law, the absence of corruption, a free media, free and fair elections. Together these key enablers of growth make up the golden thread that runs through all stories of successful development across the world. And they are quite simply life changing. Curbing corruption means not having to pay a bribe to lease a plot of land. Transparency means that people can monitor whether revenue from natural resources like oil is being invested in roads or wells for their villages, or wasted. The rule of law means that a woman can go to court to settle a dispute knowing that her evidence will be given the same weight as a man’s. Free and fair elections mean that every citizen has a voice in their government and the opportunity to stand for office."
  • AO: So why are you pumping hundreds of millions of pounds into contraception instead?
  • DC: "But these vital building blocks of freedom and democracy can not be laid down without a transformation in the participation of women. Why? Because where the potential and the perspective of women is locked out of the decisions that shape a society, that society remains stunted and underachieving. So enabling women to have a voice is a vital part of improving governance and achieving sustainable and equitable growth. And this isn’t just the case in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the case all over the world. A World Bank Study of 100 countries found that the greater the representation of women in parliament the lower the level of corruption. While one of the most powerful signs that real change was afoot in Egypt and Libya was when women turned up and made their voices heard, refusing to be confined to their homes while men decided their future. And one of the standards by which Egyptians will judge their new government must surely be the engagement and participation of women. Crucially, it is by empowering women that countries can unlock their economic potential. Studies show that limited education and employment opportunities for women in Africa mean annual per capita growth is almost a whole percentage point lower than it should be. Had this growth been achieved, Africa’s economies would have doubled in size over the last thirty years. Providing girls with just one extra year of schooling can increase their wages by as much as 20 per cent. And that really matters because a woman who can decide when to have children, will go to school for longer and then invest her extra money in her own family."
  • AO: But none of this has anything to do with contraception. The way to reduce teenage pregnancy is to promote abstinence, outlaw child-marriage, and enforce laws on statutory rape and the age of consent. The UK still has high rates of teenage pregnancy after decades of increasing provision of contraception.
  • DC: "When women have opportunity, resources and a voice, the benefits cascade to her children, her community and her country. So family planning is just the first step on a long journey towards growth, equality and development. But it’s an essential step – saving lives and empowering women to fulfil their potential as great leaders of change."
  • AO: Contraception doesn’t save lives; it prevents lives. It is insulting to women to tell them that they need pills, rubbers, coils etc to ‘fulfil their potential’.
  • DC: "So I am delighted that Britain is taking the lead – together with the Gates Foundation – to tackle an issue that has been ignored for so long."
  • AO: This is a complete myth. Western governments, wealthy foundations, UN agencies and abortion lobbyists have been flooding the developing world with contraception for decades.
  • DC: "Just like the money we gave last year through GAVI to immunise children against preventable diseases this aid is transparent and direct – it reaches the people who need it, and it doesn’t get caught up in bureaucracy. Last year’s vaccines summit is saving 4 million lives. This year’s family planning summit will prevent a further 3 million babies dying in their first year of life giving 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries the chance to access affordable, lifesaving contraception for the first time. And I’m proud to say that Britain will contribute over £500 million between now and 2020 – doubling our annual investment in family planning. This alone will help 24 million women and girls preventing an unintended pregnancy every 10 seconds and saving a woman’s life every two hours."
  • AO: These figures are self-serving fantasies. In many developing countries, there are not even reliable statistics about the population in general, let alone accurate figures for estimates of healthcare outcomes. Lies, damned lies and statistics.
  • DC: "Of course there are some who will oppose this. There are those who will say we can’t afford to spend money on aid at a time like this. And there are those who might accept the case for aid, but who object to supporting family planning and the empowerment of women because they think it’s not our place to tell people what to do, or interfere in other cultures. I think it’s vital that we confront these arguments head on. Let me do so. First, it is morally right to honour our promises to the poorest in the world."
  • AO: We are unaware that the Conservative or Liberal Democrat parties, either separately or in the Coalition agreement, made any promises to bankroll contraception globally.
  • DC: "Every six minutes a woman who did not want to become pregnant will die in pregnancy or childbirth. Every six minutes."
  • AO: Again, this figure is a self-serving fantasy.
  • DC: "So how many minutes do we wait? I say we don’t wait at all."
  • AO: This is tear-jerking 'Mom and apple-pie' rhetoric, cynically wheeled-out to fool the naive.
  • DC: "But there’s not just a strong moral argument for keeping our aid commitment, there’s a second, more practical argument too. If we really care about our own national interest about jobs, growth and security we shouldn’t break off our links with the countries that can hold some of the keys to that future. For if we invest in empowering women in Africa as the key to driving trade and economic growth it’s not just Africa that will grow but Britain too. And that’s why I will always defend our spending on aid."
  • AO: This is another straw-man argument. SPUC does not argue against giving aid but against wasting aid on contraception.
  • DC: "As for those who say we shouldn’t interfere let me be absolutely clear. We’re not talking about some kind of Western imposed population control, forced abortion or sterilisation."
  • AO: Wrong. The UK government has for decades given tens of millions of pounds annually to the very same organisations which support and help manage China’s population control programme of forced abortion and sterilisation. In April, it was alleged that DFID money went to a forced sterilisation programme in India (Observer, 15 April). Melinda Gates' partners, Marie Stopes International and International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), were founded by leaders in the early eugenics and population control movements, and who were very open  that they did not like the idea of poor people of colour having children.
  • DC: "What we’re saying today is quite the opposite. We’re not telling anyone what to do. We’re giving women and girls the power to decide for themselves."
  • AO: The easy availability of contraception enables predatory men and coercive relatives to pressure vulnerable women and girls into sexual activity.
  • DC: "Yes family sizes need to come down but they come down not because we say they should but because the women who have children want them to."
  • AO: This is a reversal of the UK government’s policy under Labour which claimed it was neutral about population sizes. In any case, what is the evidence that mothers want family sizes to come down?
  • DC: "And to those who try to say it is wrong to interfere by giving a woman that power to decide I say they are the ones who are interfering, not me."
  • AO: Most women around the world, including women in the developing world, already exercise the power to decide over the size of their family. They are not in relationships in which they cannot decide, in conjunction with their spouses/partners, to limit the number of children they conceive. In those relationships in which they cannot exercise this power, this is a problem relating to the nature of the relationship, not a lack of contraception.
  • DC: "I’m not dictating who runs her country. I’m not saying how many children she should have. What jobs she can do. How she can dress. When she can speak. It’s those who are imposing their values on women who are doing the interfering. I say that every woman should be able to decide her own future. And yes I say we should stand up against those who want to decide it for her."
  • AO: Mr Cameron is cynically adopting radical feminist rhetoric in order to caricature those who uphold traditional family values. He is pitting himself against the pro-life movement.
  • DC: "Because there are no valid excuses for the denial of basic rights and freedoms for women around the world."
  • AO: There is no international treaty or convention which declares that contraception is a basic right.
  • DC: "So what we are talking about today is the beginning of a much wider battle that will define our century. A fight for female empowerment and equality that cannot be won by having special separate discussions on women every now and then but requires instead that women are at the table in every discussion on every issue. In Britain, we are scaling up and re-prioritising resources for women and girls in all of DFID’s 28 country programmes. We have made a commitment to help 6.5 million of the poorest girls in the world to go to school. We are standing up for women’s rights against horrific sexual crimes, including through the campaign to prevent sexual violence in conflict which William Hague launched in May with Angelina Jolie. We are determined to end the barbaric practice of female genital cutting making it illegal in Britain leading the way in countries like Somalia where it affects a staggering 98 per cent of women and supporting the brave leadership of the first ladies of Burkina Faso and Niger who are here today. And I will personally ensure that the fight for the empowerment of women is at the heart of the international process I am co-chairing to renew the Millennium Development Goals. Because we know today just how important that empowerment is for women, for the well-being of their families and the future growth and prosperity of the whole world."
  • AO: Mr Cameron is again expropriating feminism as a background of justification for flooding the developing world with contraception. Women do not need contraception in order to be empowered, equal and protected. Indeed, contraception often degrades vulnerable women to the level of sex objects.
  • DC: "Just before I came onto this stage today I met Aslefe. Aslefe is an inspiring young woman from Ethiopia. She told me she is the captain of her village football team. She uses football matches to distribute materials, contraceptives and HIV prevention methods. She wants every woman and girl to have access to family planning and wants improved health systems in Ethiopia so girls her age no longer have to suffer."
  • AO: I think the vast majority of both children and parents in the world think that what Aslefe is doing is strange and that the normal thing for her to do would be to stick to sport.
  • DC: "She has hope in her eyes. She has ambition in her voice. She gives you that sense that she believes things really can change. Today we are investing in that hope for Aslefe and for girls like her all over the world. Their future will determine our future. And we will help them fight for it. Today and every day until that battle is won. Thank you."
  • AO: Mr Cameron has now overdone the tear-jerking, heartstring-tugging rhetoric here. More arguments and less Walt Disney please.
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