Bush in Kenya: Killing Them Softly
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Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 07:32:51 PM EST
from Our Word

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Live and let live?  Sorry, but George W. Bush's god has other plans for your life.

We have just stepped up the pace of the killing in Kenya, and in the most budget-conscious way imaginable. Unlike our excesses in Iraq, this war isn't costing us a dime. No depleted uranium, no white phosphorus, no Mark VII second-generation napalm - no, nothing so messy. In Kenya, we are still killing them softly.

As reported by bayprairie at Our Word, the Center for Health and Gender Equality tells us that Bush has broken yet another promise, reneging on his written pledge not to subject African AIDS relief funding to his Global Gag Rule. [pdf file]

In August 2003, President Bush released an Executive Order specifically exempting U.S. global AIDS funds from gag rule restrictions. "The theme of World AIDS Day 2005 is `Keep the Promise.' In expanding the Global Gag Rule to U.S. global AIDS funding on the eve of World AIDS Day, the Administration has broken its own written commitment not to subject global AIDS funds to these onerous restrictions," stated Jodi Jacobson, Executive Director of CHANGE.
According to conservative estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 600,000 women worldwide die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, of which at least 78,000 women worldwide die as a result of complications of unsafe abortion in a desperate effort to terminate unintended pregnancies. In Kenya, where abortion is illegal, complications of unsafe abortion are a leading killer of married women in their twenties and thirties. The Kenya Family Planning Association lost U.S. funding because it refused to forgo the right to discuss the toll of unsafe abortion on the lives of women in Kenya. "Loss of this funding has severely undermined efforts to reduce unintended pregnancy in Kenya through expansion of voluntary family planning as well as to prevent HIV infections in women," according to Dr. Godwin Mzenge, Executive Director of Family Planning Association of Kenya.
Under severe pressure from the extreme right in the Republican Party and its fundamentalist Christian base in the United States, the Administration's global AIDS policy already includes numerous policy shifts and funding constraints that undermine effective prevention efforts.
Expansion of the Global Gag Rule comes at a time when every dollar spent on prevention needs to be spent in the most effective way possible to save lives. "But expansion of the Global Gag Rule is intended to do one thing and one thing only: It is intended to further undermine effective reproductive health and family planning programs worldwide, a goal of the extreme right in this country for over two decades," stated Jacobson. "The net result will be increased rates of infection among women, and
the responsibility for this will fall squarely on the Bush Administration policy," she continued.
"Expansion of the Global Gag Rule to HIV funding comes at a time when political support for the Bush Administration is waning, and when the Administration is seeking to shore up its `fundamentalist base,'" noted Jacobson. "It is perhaps no surprise," noted Jacobson, "but this decision shows just how far this Administration will go to play politics with women's lives."

Wasn't the situation in Kenya horrific enough already?

Last May, Stephen Mumo Muia, a night watchman, saw three men in a dark blue pickup truck dump something into the Ngong River, a polluted waterway on the outskirts of Nairobi. Mr. Muia said he tried to chase the men, but they slipped into the night.

In their wake, he found black plastic bags stuffed with 15 fetuses, one full-term. Mr. Muia told his employers at the International Christian Centre that he had seen men at the river before, especially during the rainy season. But there had been a drought this spring--the river was low--and these bags didn't wash away with the current.

A prominent doctor and two nurses from a local clinic are in jail awaiting trial on charges of murder following a police investigation.

But the bags full of fetuses keep appearing. Just last month, another 20 fetuses were found in the Nairobi River, near Mathare Valley, one of the city's largest, densest slums. That same week, two women were spotted dumping a bag into a gutter. Inside were twin fetuses, one of which was fished out by a scrawny dog and dropped at the feet of horrified churchgoers.

Provincial police Chief King'ori Mwangi told reporters, "fetuses are being found in dumps all over the city. Our officers are traumatized. They have to collect two or three abandoned fetuses every day."

Kenya is gripped by an illegal abortion epidemic. While Kenyan church leaders demanding a crackdown on clinics square off against doctors seeking legalized abortion, many here are quietly cursing U.S. President George W. Bush and his anti-abortion policies.
"The rule has absolutely led to more illegal abortions," says Dr. Solomon Orero, a prominent Kenyan gynecologist and reproductive rights activist. "It was like passing a death sentence on women who otherwise would have been saved."

A recent report, titled Access Denied, by Population Action International and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, investigated the effects of the U.S. policy in Ethiopia, Kenya, Romania and Zambia and found dozens of family-planning clinics have closed, reducing a broad range of services to women and their families.

Most of these clinics were located among the poorest of the society in slums and rural areas, and the populations depended on them for other heavily subsidized health services like immunization of the children, vitamin A supplements, malaria treatment, and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

How can we do this? How can we not, when it is so clearly what Jesus Christ requires of us?  These are a few of the God-enlightened people who assure our president that the Bible tells us so.

The grandfatherly James Dobson is a leading luminary of the Christian Right and heads Focus on the Family.

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On Focus' 47-acre campus in Colorado Springs, some 1,300 employees battle against gay rights, sex education and women's rights with an enormous annual budget of $130 million. Dobson's radio show, dispensing homespun parenting advice along with jabs at "the militant homosexual agenda," is heard daily on more than 9,000 radio stations worldwide, giving him an estimated listening audience of more than 200 million.

Focus' president from 2003 to early 2005, Don Hodel, formerly served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior and head of the Christian Coalition, and now chairs the Council for National Policy, a secretive group of America's most powerful right-wing leaders that Dobson formerly chaired.

As early as 1989, Dobson came under attack from a fellow conservative evangelical, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who accused him of "reprehensible" and "homophobic" use of false information about how AIDS is transmitted.

When it comes to fighting AIDS in Africa, Dobson says Bush is doing a heckuva job:

"President Bush deserves praise for his leadership and efforts to provide real solutions to the millions of AIDS sufferers in Africa," Dobson said. "We cannot continue to offer this country the same faulty ideology that has increased sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy among our own young people."

For the uninitiated, that means no sex education and no condoms.

Tim LaHaye is best known as coauthor of the apocalyptic End Times Left Behind series, but the little woman in the LaHaye household, Beverly, takes a back seat to nobody. Beverly LaHaye is the founder and "chairman" of Concerned Women for America - whose application for consultative status at the United Nations now has been granted.

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In close cooperation with the Bush administration, CWA and other Christian Right groups have gained influence in shaping U.S. positions at the UN regarding abortion, reproductive rights, the AIDS pandemic. Other members of this coalition, including United Families International, International Right to Life Federation, and American Life League, have been granted UN consultative status.

Along with such other pro-family organizations as Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation, CWA has applied for consultative status. According to Jennifer Butler, associate for Global Justice Issues with the Presbyterian Church USA's UN Office, CWA shares the view that the advent of the Bush administration brought a new sheriff to town that would support the Christian Right's agenda at the United Nations.

The Family Research Council, headed by Tony Perkins, is one of the most powerful and well-connected "Christian" lobbying organizations in Washington, DC.

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One of the most disturbing features not listed on Perkins' resume was his involvement in securing the mailing list of Ku Klux Klansman David Duke for a Louisiana Senate campaign he managed in 1996. Four years ago, reporter Max Blumenthal revealed that <...> in 1996, while Perkins was running the campaign of longtime conservative Woodie Jenkins, the right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana, he "paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list."
Tony Perkins is not a man given to uncertainty.

Same sex marriage? It will destroy traditional American marriages, and a constitutional amendment banning it is needed. Comprehensive sexuality education? It encourages promiscuity among America's youth and abstinence-only sex education is needed in our public schools. Covenant marriage? It is one of the only ways to ensure that people will take their marriage vows seriously and reduce the skyrocketing divorce rate in the country. Judicial activists? Those judges who do the wrong thing need to be suitably penalized.

Money to combat AIDS in Africa? At the urging of conservative U.S. churches, several African American bishops have been rejecting aid to African AIDS victims from churches that allow gay clergy. According to a recent posting at John Aravosis' Americablog, Perkins congratulated the bishops: "I applaud the actions of the African Anglican churches. No amount of silver is worth sacrificing your duty to your congregation and to God," Perkins said.

These people are George W. Bush's kind of Christians. This is what their peculiar version of the Word of God has already wrought in Kenya . . .

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. . . and they are hell-bent on making sure it doesn't change.

But just as James Dobson, Beverly LaHaye and Tony Perkins won't have the pale tranquility of their Sabbath disturbed by seeing a scrawny dog drop an aborted fetus at their feet as they stroll out of church next Sunday morning, they don't have to live with this, either.  And that's just too goddamned bad.

For this beautiful but heartbreaking diary.

Too few champion or even notice the plight of African women and all those suffering from the global assault on developing World reproductive rights.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 07:49:19 PM EST

if we call the White House and raise enough hell.


Email: comments@whitehouse.gov

We have to start somewhere.

by moiv on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 08:54:25 PM EST

Firstly, thanks again for what is a real eye-opener even for most people fighting dominionism as to the "real life" consequences of their policies in Africa--and what will likely be their "real life" consequences here in America, too, as well as in other Western countries (Canada's Conservative party is suffering a similar hijacking by dominionists as the Republican Party has--important as Canada's just had a parliamentary election forced by a no-confidence vote--and Australia has to deal with the AoG-controlled Family First dominionist party).

One of the more decidedly frightening things I noticed from the story, too:

In close cooperation with the Bush administration, CWA and other Christian Right groups have gained influence in shaping U.S. positions at the UN regarding abortion, reproductive rights, the AIDS pandemic. Other members of this coalition, including United Families International, International Right to Life Federation, and American Life League, have been granted UN consultative status.

Along with such other pro-family organizations as Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation, CWA has applied for consultative status. According to Jennifer Butler, associate for Global Justice Issues with the Presbyterian Church USA's UN Office, CWA shares the view that the advent of the Bush administration brought a new sheriff to town that would support the Christian Right's agenda at the United Nations.

If their "consultative role" gets any real power in things like, oh, deciding international treaties on asylum rights for gay/les/bi/trans folks, or people wishing to escape dominionist groups or countries (already some folks applying for asylum in Britain are doing so because they are at threat of involuntary exorcism by African-based "deliverance ministry" groups, and the UK has actually set up a specialised child-abuse taskforce focusing on abuse related to "deliverance ministry" practices)...it could get REALLY bad.

One of the things I honestly fear (and I hope I am just being paranoid and that this is just the old "complex PTSD" as a result of 26 years of spiritual/physical/mental/emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of a dominionist coercive religious group flaring up...reading the news sometimes, I'm not sure anymore)...

...one of the things I fear is having to leave the country for my own safety because it's been taken over by dominionists, and not being able to get asylum elsewhere because dominionist groups in other countries that are linked with dominionist groups here have put pressure to bear to refuse all refugees escaping for "religious" or "sexual orientation" reasons.

The fact that there are dominionist groups that partner with known hate groups and are on official advisory panels with the United Nations does NOT exactly help me sleep easier. :(

by dogemperor on Mon Nov 28, 2005 at 08:15:32 PM EST

How some people can justify this as a "pro-life" position is completely beyond me.

Excellent diary. Thank you.

by lil bird on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 11:48:20 PM EST

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