Vatican officials said Saturday they were disappointed by President Barack Obama’s decision to end a ban on federal funding for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on them.
Monsignor Rino Fisichella, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, urged Obama to listen to all voices in America without “the arrogance of those who, being in power, believe they can decide of life and death.”
Look in the mirror, Rino. Your policies are deadly to women everywhere:
Nepal’s maternal mortality rate is among the highest in South Asia, in part due to the numerous deaths caused by unsafe abortion. Recognizing that the criminalization of abortion was greatly contributing to Nepal’s high maternal morbidity and mortality rates, the Nepalese Ministry of Health developed a plan to decriminalize abortion; however, the plan involved forming a coalition of NGOs to create advocacy strategies. A number of these NGOs received U.S. funds and were thus unable to participate in the Ministry’s plan without losing their funding. Even though Nepal eventually legalized abortion in a historic move in 2002, the Mexico City Policy will continue to reduce the ability of Nepalese NGOs to provide safe and legal abortion services, since U.S. funding is the largest source of foreign family planning assistance in Nepal. As a result, organizations will likely choose to continue receiving USAID funds rather than risking bankruptcy.
Another practical effect of the Mexico City Policy has been the closure of family planning clinics due to USAID’s withdrawal of funding, notably in sub-Saharan Africa. Seventeen centers in Uganda, five centers in Kenya, one outreach program serving poor communities in Ethiopia, and several clinics in Tanzania have closed for this reason. In Kenya alone, the five clinics that closed served tens of thousands of women. They provided basic services that many poor women could not otherwise afford or access, including well-baby care, pre- and post-natal obstetric care, HIV testing and counseling, and contraception. In order to avoid closing seven more health posts and one maternal nursing home when President Bush imposed the global gag rule, health care provider Marie Stopes International of Kenya laid off one-fifth of its staff, cut the remaining employees’ salaries, reorganized its clinic structure, and increased client fees. The country’s other leading reproductive health provider, the Family Planning Association of Kenya, laid off nearly one-third of its staff, raised patient fees, and cut salaries in order to keep its remaining clinics open and running without U.S. funding.
Similarly, the global gag rule has cost the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia—which runs 671 community-based reproductive health care sites, 24 youth centers, and 18 clinics—more than a half-million dollars. The Association does not provide abortion services because abortion is illegal in Ethiopia.Nevertheless, by communicating the fact that unsafe abortion was claiming the lives of Ethiopian mothers to local policymakers, the group forfeited its U.S. funding, which resulted in a loss of services to 301,054 women and 229,947 men living in urban areas. Clearly, the women and families who lost access to these resources and clinics were the true victims of the Mexico City Policy.
Interrogators are lauding President Obama for signing an executive order that will shut down secret CIA prisons and place the use of coercive interrogation techniques completely off limits.
“[The order] closes an unconscionable period in our history, in which those who knew least, professed to know most about interrogations,” said Joe Navarro, a former special agent and supervisor with the FBI.
“Some die-hards on the right – who have never interrogated anyone — are already arguing that forcing interrogations to be conducted within army field manual guidelines is a step backward and will result in ‘coddling’ dangerous terrorists,” retired Colonel Stuart Herrington, who served for more than 30 years as a military intelligence officer, said soon after the order was signed. “This is a common, but uninformed view. Experienced, well-trained, professional interrogators know that interrogation is an art. It is a battle of wits, not muscle. It is a challenge that can be accomplished within the military guidelines without resorting to brutality.”
At around 6pm on January 27 of last year, 80-year-old Isaac Singletary spotted a couple of drug dealers attempting to do business on his front lawn. It wasn’t the first time. Singletary, described by relatives as territorial and a bit crotchety, did what he’d done in the past. He grabbed his gun, and walked out on to his lawn to scare them off. Problem is, this time the men weren’t drug dealers. They were undercover Jacksonville, Florida police posing as drug dealers. They had come on to Singletary’s property to bait possible drug offenders. When he brandished his gun, the police shot Singletary four times, once in the back. He died a short time later. A subsequent investigation by Florida’s attorney general cleared the officers who shot Singletary of any wrongdoing.