Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.

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The Guttmacher Institute has a bad prescription for Uganda

Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.
By Rebecca Oas Ph.D.

February 8, 2013, (C-FAM) - The Guttmacher Institute released a brief report titled Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion in Ugandain which they make their case for why increased contraception and access to “safe” abortion will reduce maternal mortality.  Briefly, their argument is that unintended pregnancy in Uganda is high, and this is because women don’t have access to contraceptives.  Because of these unintended pregnancies, women seek abortions, which Guttmacher claims are often “unsafe” due to a combination of confusing laws, lack of knowledge regarding one’s options, and stigma due to a pervasive negative attitude toward abortion.  The Guttmacher Institute, founded as a research division of Planned Parenthood, predictably offer their boilerplate recommendations: more contraceptives to reduce the “need” for abortions, and more access to “safe” and “legal” abortions for when contraceptives fail or a pregnancy turns from “wanted” to “unwanted”, if the unborn child is diagnosed as ill, disabled, or, in some cases, female.

Guttmacher estimates that just over 54% of pregnancies in Uganda are unintended, and state that “The high level of unintended pregnancy and the gap between actual and desired fertility in Uganda can be attributed largely to insufficient contraceptive use.”  According to the latest numbers from the United Nations Statistics Division, “unmet need” for contraception in Uganda was 38% in 2006.

Just for the sake of comparison, let’s look at the numbers from the United States: Guttmacher claims that 49% of pregnancies in the US are unintended, yet the UN Statistics Division puts “unmet need” for contraceptives in the US at only 6.6%, as of 2008.

As illustrated by this graph, the Guttmacher Institute’s assumption that more contraception will reduce unintended pregnancy rates in Uganda could stand a bit more scrutiny:

Relationship between “unmet need” for contraceptives and unplanned pregnancies in Uganda and the United States

Source data: Guttmacher Institute and  United Nations Statistics Division

Multiple conclusions can be drawn from this: first, the concept of “unmet need” is highly flawed (which experts have demonstrated), yet it is continually being used by organizations like UNFPA to demand funding – most recently 8.1 billion dollars a year to saturate the world with contraceptives.

Second, access to modern contraceptive methods isn’t enough to stop unintended pregnancy, as the United States numbers clearly indicate.  So what happens to those babies conceived unintentionally?

It should be noted that the Guttmacher report pays no attention whatsoever to the alarmingly high rate of miscarriage, which is almost three times higher than that of the comparable group in the United States.  Instead, the report “highlights steps that can be taken to reduce levels of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion, and, in turn, the high level of maternal mortality.”

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Since the Guttmacher Institute’s strategy on unintended pregnancy seems unlikely to work, their strategy for reducing maternal mortality would seem to hinge on dealing with unsafe abortion.  The exact percentage of maternal mortality in Uganda attributable to abortion is hard to pin down: Guttmacher cites an unpublished report from the 1990s claiming a rate of 21% and a statement by the Minister of Health in 2008 claiming 26%.  However, when Uganda’s Ministry of Health issued its annual report for 2011-2012, they attributed 13% of maternal deaths to abortion, which is consistent with global estimates, and, in fact, lower than the 18% rate the World Health Organization (WHO) cites for the East African region, which includes Uganda.

Outcomes of Unintended Pregnancies (United States vs. Uganda)

Source data: Guttmacher Institute

In addition to the Guttmacher Institute, the Center for Reproductive Rights also relies on the highest available estimate of maternal mortality due to abortion.  Once again, their goal is explicit: “increasing access to safe abortion services.”

It seems that Uganda does not share their priorities.  Uganda’s health ministry has been clear in defining the interventions that will improve maternal mortality.  From their Strategic Plan for 2010/11-2014-15 (PDF):

“The main factors responsible for maternal deaths relate to the three delays – delay to seek care, delay to reach facilities and intra-institutional delay to provide timely and appropriate care. Slow progress in addressing maternal health problems in Uganda is due to lack of HR, medicines and supplies and appropriate buildings and equipment including transport and communication equipment for referral.”

In other words, general improvements in medical infrastructure and transportation, the same things that have reduced maternal mortality or kept it low in many countries with laws restricting or prohibiting abortion, such as Ireland, Malta, and Sri Lanka.  WHO researchers point out that in Latin America, good healthcare infrastructure “has kept the mortality relatively low in Latin America, and the unsafe abortion case fatality rate is just about equal to that in Europe,” despite the lack of liberal abortion laws in the region.

If the Guttmacher Institute or the Center for Reproductive Rights were truly serious about saving women’s lives in Uganda, they would not rely on relatively unsubstantiated (and certainly debatable) numbers on abortion-related maternal mortality simply because they are the highest available estimates.  To do so would be to risk underestimating the rates at which other complications occur, like hemorrhage or infection or underlying health problems caused by poor nutrition, such as anemia.  Furthermore, promoting access to abortion would do nothing to improve the overall status of health care in Uganda, to say nothing of ensuring access to good roads and bridges that are crucial in ensuring prompt medical attention for everyone, including expectant mothers.

Ultimately, the focus on Uganda from these pro-abortion groups comes down to one very important fact.  As the Guttmacher report helpfully points out in its opening sentence:

“Uganda, a country of nearly 35 million (including 8 million women of reproductive age), has one of the highest rates of population growth in the world.”

And, what’s more, the Ugandan people don’t seem to share Guttmacher’s view that this is a bad thing:

“Although desired fertility is declining, many Ugandans still want large families and do not approve of abortion.”

The Guttmacher Institute is using questionable data to push a flawed agenda on a country that does not require its help to establish sound health priorities.

This article originally appeared on C-FAM and is reprinted with permission.

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‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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