Fr. Peter West

Fighting the culture of contraception in Uganda

Fr. Peter West
By Fr. Peter West
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January 2, 2012 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - In Uganda, as in most parts of Africa, the culture is one in which life is respected and family is at the center. But like most of Africa, the culture is under constant attack from outside forces pressuring the government to embrace the “reproductive health” agenda of abortion and contraception. Billboards, television commercials and radio ads pushing contraceptives are very common. I experienced firsthand the propaganda effort underway in Uganda during a missionary trip this past November.

Uganda used to be a model in the fight against HIV/AIDS because President Yoweri Museveni implemented a policy throughout the country which focused on the only real way to stem the spread of the deadly virus: asking people to change their risky sexual behavior by abstaining from sex before marriage and by being faithful to their partner.

When President Museveni’s ABC policy (Abstain before marriage, Be faithful after, and use Condoms only when absolutely necessary) was implemented in 1992, the adult HIV/AIDS infection rate was 30 percent in the capital of Kampala and other large urban areas, and the national life expectancy for the entire country was only 44 years. But in the next decade, the adult HIV/AIDS infection rate dropped 80 percent, to six percent in 2002, and the life expectancy rose by eight years. Unfortunately, Western governments and NGOs have been successful in their attempts to destroy the ABC program by forcing an acceptance of greater condom use, leading to more risky sexual behavior, and the HIV/AIDS rate is again on the rise.

Shortly after I arrived in Uganda, Human Life International (HLI) country director Father Jonathan Opio took me to Namugongo, also known as the Shrine of the Ugandan Martyrs, in Kampala where St. Charles Lwanga was martyred for the faith and the virtue of chastity.  At Namugongo, we prayed for the people of Africa to resist the contraceptive mentality that is destroying their country and to embrace the culture of life.

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Fr. Opio and I met with a group of women in the city of Tororo who were victims of the push for greater access to contraceptives in Uganda. The women told story after story about the health problems they were experiencing because of IUDs, Norplant and Depo Provera. Each one of these long-term hormonal contraceptives carries great risks to women’s health that is not often discussed in public. Depo Provera for instance has been shown to double the risk of HIV but is still heavily promoted across Africa.

A local government health official was in attendance and heard the women’s stories, but his response to the women was that they were suffering side effects from the contraception because they had been unfaithful to their husbands! The women began shouting at him as a group and blamed him for the pain they were now experiencing.

I was astounded that he seemed not to have grasped what the women were saying, and that as a government health official he didn’t understand the negative side effects of the contraceptives he was determined to promote. As we spoke more with the women not only about the health risks of contraception, but also about the moral teachings of the Catholic Church against their use, the government official seemed to imply that Fr. Opio and I could find ourselves in trouble with the authorities if we continued to spread our message without first seeking approval from the government. Needless to say, the thinly veiled threat did not have its intended effect.

At another meeting I was able to address a group of about 50 political and community leaders including the Mayor of Tororo, representatives of President Museveni and administrators of two local hospitals. Fr. Opio and I gave a presentation about the population control agenda in Africa and how Western governments and NGOs are using great sums of money and influence to destroy the traditionally life-loving African culture.  Not everyone in the room was pro-life and they asked some challenging questions, but the dialogue was very respectful and we ate dinner together afterwards.

A highlight of this trip was hearing the stories of a group of women whose children were saved from abortion by the HLI Uganda team. The mothers gave moving testimonies on how they chose life instead of abortion, and how their beautiful bouncing babies are sources of hope and consolation. While the laws in Uganda are mostly respectful of life, there is still widespread immorality and illegal abortions. In October of 2011, HLI Uganda was involved in a case that led to the arrest of a medic who performed an illegal abortion on his girlfriend, and in the process almost killed her. I had the chance to meet one of the police officers who was instrumental in bringing the young woman’s assailant to justice.

As a Catholic apostolate, HLI endeavors to work closely with the Church in every country in which we operate. Fr. Opio was able to arrange for us to give a special presentation to the Ugandan bishops during my trip. A number of topics were discussed, but there was a heavy focus on the influence of population control groups in Africa and what these groups are doing to undermine the moral authority of the bishops. We advised the bishops on some strategies they could undertake to combat this deadly influence. I had the impression that the bishops were very supportive of our message, and there was great optimism about what we could achieve together for the protection of life in the future.

As HLI Founder Father Paul Marx said many times, “In every country, contraception always leads to massive abortion.” While the West is falling into decay, we have in Uganda and other parts of Africa people hungering for the Gospel of Life who have so far been able to stop the tidal wave of legalized abortion. But the increased push for contraception is a continual threat. I hope HLI and the Catholic Church in Uganda can work even more closely together in defeating the contraceptive mentality to get Uganda back on the right track to saving lives from HIV/AIDS, and to stop abortion from ever being legalized.

Father Peter West is the vice president for missions at Human Life International.


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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


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UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
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I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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