Fr. Peter West

Fighting the culture of contraception in Uganda

Fr. Peter West
By Fr. Peter West
Image

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.

Click “like” if you are PRO-LIFE!

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.

Only 6 days remain!

Support pro-life news. Help us reach our critical spring fundraising goal by April 1!


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

, ,

Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

Advertisement
Featured Image
Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

Follow Jonathon van Maren on Facebook

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Red Alert!

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

Share this article

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook