ROME, February 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new “reproductive health” bill being proposed in Tanzania’s National Assembly is “pure western imperialism,” according to a local pro-life leader. Emil Hagamu, Human Life International’s Regional Coordinator for English-Speaking Africa, called the bill “foreign ideology that is being imposed on our African culture whose objective is depopulation.”
“Western countries want to exploit our natural resources and they know they can only do so if they suppress the growing population of young people and next generations,” he told LifeSiteNews.com.
The purpose of the bill, called the “Safe Motherhood” bill, is to change the way Tanzanians think about family life, children and marriage, Hagamu said.
The bill, being sponsored by Care International and brought before a legislative committee this month, will usher in the total abortion and contraceptive “reproductive health” program pushed by such groups as Planned Parenthood International.
In a detailed analysis made available to LSN, Hagamu says the bill will create effective abortion on demand, for any reason or none, and place a legal penalty on health care providers who refuse to participate. Currently abortion is legal in Tanzania in cases where the mother’s “life,” is at risk, and legal precedent exists for abortion in cases where the woman’s “mental” or “physical health” are at risk.
The bill proposes to expand the current abortion law to allow the killing of children who are suspected of “a severe physical or mental abnormality,” who resulted from rape or incest, and in cases where the pregnant woman is “a mentally disordered person,” and “is not capable of appreciating pregnancy.” Health ministers will be required to designate abortion facilities from among existing health centers.
The bill, Hagamu said, “undermines and bypasses African cultural and moral values” about the raising of children; “disregards the religious laws and practice on marriage”; and “will criminalize” pro-life and Christian teachings on contraception. Tanzania is 30 percent Christian, 30-35 percent Muslim and 35 percent followers of “indigenous beliefs.”
“The whole document puts emphasis on reproductive health – with emphasis on contraception to minors and young people,” he said.
Care International sponsored the bill under a cloak of secrecy, Hagamu told LSN. “Care International have done it with secrecy and speed that if not for God’s intervention we might have seen the law passing without any of us knowing what transpired in the process.”
The bill proposes to make contraception, including hormonal drugs, “universally accessible and mandatory to minors without parental knowledge or consent.” It says that all forms of contraception will be made available based on “individual rights to control fertility.” “It shall be the duty of government to provide access to contraception and family planning services including commodities, counseling, information and education.”
The need for the bill was discussed at “safe motherhood stakeholders” meetings over the last year organized by the sponsors, “which underscored the need to formulate a law that would protect pregnant women from maternal mortality and infant mortality,” the Tanzania Daily News reports.
International pressure is coming on strong in support of the bill, with media organs like the New York Times asserting that Tanzania’s current laws are creating “a deadly toll of abortion by amateurs,” and international pressure groups like the European Pro-Choice Network claiming that Tanzania is suffering a “silent pandemic of unsafe abortion.”
At the same time, the UNFPA, UNICEF and UNWomen are claiming that Tanzania is experiencing unusually high population growth that must be curbed. Speaker of the country’s National Parliament, the Hon. Anne Makinda, told a meeting of the UNFPA that population growth is a “critical issue” for Tanzania.
“Our country has one of the highest rates of population growth in the world; on average every Tanzania woman gives birth to five or six children,” Makinda said.
According to the latest government statistics, however, this was an exaggerated estimate at best. Tanzania is at or slightly below the average overall fertility rate of most developing countries in Africa, with 4.16 children born per woman.
The country has a total population of about 42.7 million and a population growth rate of 2.002 percent. This is compared to neighbouring Kenya with a population just over 41 million, an overall fertility rate of 4.19 children born per woman and a population growth rate of 2.462 percent. Another Tanzania neighbour, Zambia, has a population of 14 million, an overall fertility rate of 5.98 children born per woman and a population growth rate of 3.062 percent.
What does stand out in Tanzania’s statistics is the high rate of maternal mortality, with 790 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008. This is compared to Zambia with 470 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and Kenya with 530 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the same year.
The abortion lobby continues to insist that legalized abortion, always equated with “safe abortion,” is the premier solution to maternal morality and morbidity (birth-related injuries and illness). But organizations that do maternal health care work while rejecting abortion, confirm that lowering maternal mortality rates depends on getting women proper obstetric health care before and after their children are born.
Matercare International, a group that has worked in maternal health care in Africa since 1981, says that maternal deaths and injury and abortions are “readily preventable” but that there is little interest on the international stage.
Most of the maternal deaths in Africa, the group says, occur among “very young mothers, in small villages, and a few at a time.” One of the most common causes of maternal death and illness is obstetric fistula that can be reversed with a simple surgical procedure. Matercare International founder, obstetrician Dr. Robert Walley, says, “Most die in terror from haemorrhage or in agony from obstructed labour.”
All of these conditions are treatable by competent, professionally trained obstetric physicians and nurses, and it is the lack of this training that is the real cause of the problem, not the lack of “safe” legal abortion. Dr. Walley maintains that the staggering rates of maternal death and abortion in Africa can be put down to “neglect” by international health organizations obsessed with abortion.
“Mothers in the developing world do not have access to safe, clean, dignified places to have their babies or access to expert medical services to look after them and while obstetric fistulae can be treated surgically.”