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by Carlos Polo

September 4, 2009 (pop.org) – The International Planned Parenthood Federation and its allies have come up with a clever new tactic in its war on the unborn.  They have decided to simply ignore existing laws protecting the sanctity of life and set up abortion hot-lines to encourage women to abort themselves. Women who call these hot-lines are told about the abortifacient drug, misoprostol.  They are briefed on how they can obtain it, and how they can use it to abort themselves. 

In Latin America, this campaign is already well underway.  Over the past four months, abortion-minded groups in Ecuador, Chile and Argentina have set up such abortion hot-lines.

The lines are advertised as offering “free information services for women with unwanted pregnancies,” but what you hear when you call is an advertisement for misoprostol-induced abortions.

There is no question that these groups know that by promoting misoprostol abortions, they are violating the law.  For example, Maria Teresa Urbina, who is the president of the Venezuelan branch of IPPF, acknowledges that “abortion is illegal in Venezuela,” and admits “we are not giving information about that.”  Her excuse:  “These women will abort anyway.”  The information provided on the abortion hot line is a “strategy so women do not die by clandestine abortions and inadequate methods.”

Unfortunately for Urbina and her partners in crime, her actions cannot be so glibly explained away.  Some of the women who call the hot line may be considering adoption, or simply looking for help in a crisis pregnancy.  What they receive is a tutorial on how to perform a self-abortion.  From a legal standpoint, providing information on how to commit a crime is punishable as criminal advocacy. 

If  an organization set up a hot line to advise people on how to rob banks or commit murders, do you think it could avoid prosecution by claiming that the people who called were bound to “rob banks or commit murders anyway” and that the hot-line was just intended to ensure that they used “adequate methods”? 

The foreign group immediately behind the creation of these hot lines is the Dutch NGO “Women on Waves,” according to Veronica Marzano, a spokeswoman for various feminist and lesbian organizations in Argentina.  In announcing the establishment of the hot line in Argentina, Marzano recounted that this regional initiative “arose after the Women on Waves recommended lines in an assortment of other countries in the region, like Ecuador and Chile.” 

Recall that Women on Waves ran the infamous floating abortuary—the so-called “Ship of Death”—until it was recently grounded by order of the Netherlands government.  That even the government of the Netherlands, not known for its respect for life, could not stomach the group’s activities demonstrates how radical it really is. 

The misoprostol protocol did not originate with Women on Waves, however, but has a long history.  We at PRI have traced its beginning to 2003, when Dr. Beverly Winikoff created the NGO “Gynuity,” dedicated exclusively to developing and promoting such chemical abortions all over the world under the guise of promoting “safe abortion.” Winikoff worked 25 years for the Population Council as Reproductive Health Director. 

The next step occurred in 2005, when the governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Sweden created the Safe Abortion Action Fund, or SAAF, to finance “safe abortion” projects for underdeveloped countries. The management of this fund was entrusted to the IPPF.

Now things began to happen quickly.  On May 18, 2007, the IPPF announced that the SAAF decided to allocate 11 million dollars for financing 45 projects in 32 countries. Three months later, Gynuity issued a study called “Options to introduce medical abortion in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, revealing the Latin American countries they had decided to concentrate their efforts on.

The World Health Organization has also gotten into the act, issuing a booklet in December 2007 sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and IPAS called “Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Abortions.”  This validates the use of misoprostol to perform abortions.

After a number of clinical trials of misoprostol in the past few years, IPPF and its partners are moving quickly to implement a so-called “counseling” system in which women with “unwanted pregnancies” are told about misoprostol and its use.  Such programs were begun in 2007 in one major hospital in the countries of Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina.  Last year, Cuba, announced that it was implementing such “counseling services” in all of its public hospitals.  Such is the efficiency of dictatorship. 

The difficulty we have had in fighting this global promotion of misoprostol abortions is twofold.  First, the drug does have a legitimate medical use in treating ulcers and post-partum hemorrhage.  Second, most developing countries do not regulate drugs, so that misoprostol can be obtained without a prescription from any drugstore that can be convinced to carry it.

One of the goals of IPPF and its partners is to ensure that pharmacies throughout the world do in fact stock misoprostol in the doses required to effect a chemical abortion.  That’s why in Peru, for example, they recently launched the Prostokos brand of misoprostol, which is available in various doses including that which causes an abortion.      

Carlos Polo is the Director of the Latin American Office of the Population Research Institute

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