“Helping” Haiti

helping haiti 1Tuesday morning I took a phone call from a woman who asked if Ann Scheidler would be participating in the UNFPA/UNIFEM (the United Nations Population Fund and United Nations Development Fund for Women) conference call that day.

I was rather surprised the Pro-Life Action League was invited in on such a call, so I asked Ann if I could take her place (Ann has been swamped with the details for the upcoming SpeakOut Illinois Conference). She RSVP’ed to the email address provided, telling them I would be on the call.

Improving Care For Pregnant Women

I called in, provided the password to the operator, told them I was calling on behalf of Ann Scheidler at the Pro-Life Action League, and was connected to the call.

Tamara Kreinin, the executive director for the UN foundation for Women and Population was leading the conference call. She began by saying that “pregnant women were the hardest hit” by the earthquake, and how particularly upsetting this was, since Haiti had been making major progress towards the Millennium Development goals.

Kreinin added that the lifetime risk of a Haitian woman dying in childbirth is huge: about 1 in 47.

Questionable Help

She then talked about the money that has been given thus far to help Haiti (about $3.6 million through the UN).

But just when I thought maybe I was wrong about the pro-abortion, pro-contraceptive goals of the UNFPA and UNIFEM, Kreinin observed that “empowering women and girls is key to eliminating poverty and stabilizing the population.”

UN Promotes “Dignity”—But That’s Not All

Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, formerly of Mercy Malaysia and currently chief of the UN Population Fund Humanitarian Response branch, then took over the call. She was preparing to travel to Haiti later that afternoon.

She mentioned the high rate of complications during pregnancies in Haiti and that they are distributing “safe delivery” kits.

She spoke about “dignity,” observing how natural processes like menstruation do not stop because your home has been destroyed by an earthquake. She said the UN was distributing care packages with feminine hygiene products to these women. About 1.5 million of these kits have been distributed.

Dr. Mahmood mentioned that “gender-based violence” was a major problem in Haiti, and that her organization was busy distributing “rape kits” to help the situation.

Reproductive Health Kits

The call was then opened to questions. A reporter from Glamour Magazine asked how people could best help. Mahmood told her people should give money (not goods).

The next question was from Mary Pack of the International Medical Corps. Pack asked how to best spread the message about “violence prevention”.

Mahmood answered that they were spreading radios around to women (though I’m a bit unclear about the purpose of this project) and that they were providing “reproductive health kits” to women. She said there were plenty of these kits to go around, “just ask for them.”

Pro-Lifers Need Not Apply

This piqued my curiosity. What exactly is in a “reproductive health kit?” I pressed *1 to ask a question…and was disconnected.

I called back in and spoke to the operator, informing him that I had been disconnected. I was on the call long enough to hear a woman asking that very question—”what is in a reproductive health kit?”—when another operator interrupted my connection. She brusquely told me those in charge of the call “would not like parties of that affiliation [presumably the “pro-life” affiliation] to be on the call” and I was disconnected.

So What Is In The Kit?

So what type of help is the United Nations providing that they are embarrassed for pro-lifers to know about?

There seem to be several kits distributed in “blocks” [PDF] (groups of several kits). Here are the highlights of these kits:

  • subkit no. 1: 14,400 male condoms and 450 female condoms
  • subkit no. 3: dozens of doses of “emergency contraceptives”
  • subkit no. 4: hundreds of doses of birth control pills and more “emergency contraceptives”
  • subkit no. 5: another 3,000 condoms
  • subkit no. 7: dozens of IUDs
  • subkit no. 8: a “management of complications of abortions” kit
  • subkit no. 10: a “vacuum extraction subkit” (presumably for performing D&C abortions)

Planned Parenthood is also encouraging people to donate to UNFPA. According to Dawn Stacey, a former Planned Parenthood “counselor”:

The donations (Planned Parenthood is promoting) will help UNFPA provide emergency reproductive health kits…These kits could essentially function as OB wards as they contain essential drugs, equipment and supplies to provide lifesaving services to pregnant women.

Even if I trusted Planned Parenthood (which I don’t), after reading the contents of these kits I would be questioning how many pregnant women giving birth on the side of the road these would be going to help.

After reading about their kits, I’m no longer surprised they hung up on me. But, it still baffles me that they asked us to be on the call in the first place.

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