Abstinence for Africa
Michelle Goldberg printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 04:51:34 PM EST

author info
We all know how the Bush administration has pushed Christian right policies at home, but many of the most devastating effects of the delegation of public policy to the James Dobson lobby are being felt abroad, especially when it comes to sexual health.
Bush has withheld tens of millions of dollars from the United Nations Population Fund because of discredited accusations from a hard-right Catholic group that the UN agency supports coerced abortions in China. As a result, maternal health clinics have had to close worldwide. In November, Bush expanded the global gag rule -- which denies U.S. family planning funding to any organization that performs abortions, counsels about them or refers women to abortion services -- to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts.

Then, this week, Bush once again increased the role of religious groups in America's global AIDS prevention policy.  According to a story on the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare policy, "Faith-based organizations worldwide will play a major role in fighting the AIDS and HIV epidemic under a new initiative announced by President George W. Bush. The 'New Partners Initiative,' outlined by the President during World AIDS day last week, will also seek to build partnerships with overseas organizations that have little or no experience in working with the United States government...The initiative will provide $200 million through fiscal year 2008 for technical and capacity-building assistance that will help such organizations compete for future program grants."

Understand what this means. The reason these faith-based organizations haven't been able to compete for grants is largely because of their lack of infrastructure and experience. Plenty of other groups have both those things, but we're not funding them because they promote safer sex as well as abstinence. The Roundtable story quotes a statement by the Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM), a coalition of health groups in several African nations:

Under pressure from the American program 'PEPFAR,' [President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] certain African countries have begun, little by little, to adopt a strategy through which the message 'abstinence and faithfulness' is advocated as the only way of preventing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to the detriment of the universal promotion of the condom which remains to this day the most efficient means of protection against HIV transmission...

We denounce the ideology which governs the Washington program against AIDS (PEPFAR) and which is being imposed in our countries. Instead of contributing positively to the fight against AIDS in our countries, this program will breed serious prejudices and will cause, without doubt, a large number of infections which would otherwise have not taken place.


I've heard similar concerns from African health workers at U.N. conferences. Meanwhile, America's U.N. delegations are increasingly given over to the Christian right -- it's an easy way for the administration to placate the movement without many outsiders noticing. Recent official U.S. delegates to U.N. conferences on women and children have included Janet Parshall, the Christian radio broadcaster, Paul Bonicelli, former dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College, and Concerned Women for America's Janice Crouse. These people work tirelessly to scuttle any initiatives that would expand women's access to reproductive health care. (Ironically, they often end up partnering with hard-line Muslim fundamentalists to do so).

Anyone interested in reading about the real-world results of these policies should check out Helen Epstein's phenomenal story about U.S.-based abstinence initiatives in Uganda, which was published in April in the New York Review of Books. As she details, that country's hugely successful approach to HIV-prevention is being undermined by the growing influence of the religious right -- a situation that gets way too little coverage in the U.S.




Display:
It raises the question : what do we say of  Christian faith when it is expressed as extreme ideological positions that result in mass death and suffering ?

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 05:59:10 PM EST

A quote from an article in today's Baptist Press:

A senior research scientist with the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies once advocated the use of condoms and clean needles for the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS. Now, after evaluating the ABC Model of AIDS prevention championed in Uganda, Edward Green says promoting the values of fidelity and abstinence is far more effective than just promoting correct condom use.



by Carlos on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 07:27:05 PM EST
As far as I know, many public health experts support promoting abstinence and fidelity in conjunction with condoms, and that model has worked in Uganda. The problem is that now the story of what happened in Uganda is being rewritten by the right to suggest that condom use isn't integral to HIV prevention for most people -- rather, the abstinence-only lobby sees condoms as only a last resort for high-risk groups like prostitutes, and not something that needs to be accessible to everyone.

by Michelle Goldberg on Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 10:12:37 PM EST
Parent

"...Edward Green says promoting the values of fidelity and abstinence is far more effective than just promoting correct condom use."

The key word here is just.  Nowhere in this statement does it say that abstinence education alone is best... it says to me that when you add abstinence alongside proper condom use, you get better results than just proper condom use alone...

But of course, the Religious Right will interpret it as abstinence only works...

Personally, I went to a high school that had a "combo approach" to sex ed.  Our teacher explained that the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and STDs (including HIV) was to not have sex.  Then we went on to - well, if you're still going to insist on having sex, then we don't want you to be stupid about it... here's all of your protection options, including how to "properly install and use" a condom. (we got to practice putting them on banannas)  

To me, the discussion was valuable even for those students who would be abstinent during their high school years, because it meant that when you were an adult and making sexual decisions, that you were educated.  You could wait until you were married to have sex - and the information was still valid, because you could use the birth control information for family planning.

-Emily
emilywynn.blogspot.com


by EmilyWynn8 on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:25:14 PM EST
Parent




WWW Talk To Action


Real Religious Liberty is Not Oppression
This is a reposting of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation -- FC Real Religious Liberty is not Oppression FREDERICK CLARKSON Senior......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Houston Mayor Ignites Fervor of Religious Right
The best take on Houston Mayor Annise Parker vs. the churches in her city is the story written by Marv Knox in the Baptist......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Four Stories
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  "Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
"The $1-Billion-a-Year [Religious] Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of"
In honor of the 2014 incarnation of the event known as The Gathering, I've given an interview with Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
(Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past
The Religious Right's annual "Values Voter Summit" (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there.......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
The Christian Right's Voter Mobilization Strategy for 2014
My latest post at Political Research Associates is about how this weekend's Values Voter Summit fits into the Christian Right's wider electoral strategy for......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
NYT's David Brooks to Speak at Antigay Luncheon of Billionaires Who Fund Racist Preacher
Recently, government-encouraged outbreaks of mob violence against LGBT persons in countries from Uganda to Russia, and draconian new anti-gay legislation in those countries too,......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
D'Souza's Downfall: Religious Right Favorite Sentenced For Campaign Donation Violations
Yesterday conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza was sentenced to five years of probation and a term of community service for violating federal campaign laws. He......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Short Takes -- Taking Action Edition
Banned Books Week is being celebrated this year from Sept. 21-27.  Yes its time for the annual celebration of the Freedom to Read, sponsored......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Archbishop Schnurr Throws Cold Water on the Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge has been an outstanding success in raising both awareness and research money needed to find a cure for Amyotrophic lateral......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
The Secret Antigay U.S. Money Behind The WCF and the Global Evangelical War on LGBT Rights
[note to readers: this is an excerpt from my first installment in a Twocare.org/Center Against Religious Extremism series that will examine extensive ties -......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Race as Religion
Reading Edith Beer's book, The Nazi Officer's Wife, I ran across an interesting account of her fake marriage license.  She married a Nazi officer......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.