“Openness to life is at the center of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual.”
─ Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate
In normal times, a considerable part of my work as the president of Human Life International involves being out in the mission field. I regularly fly into the various countries where HLI has representatives, where I speak at conferences, collaborate with local civil and ecclesial leaders, offer retreats and workshops, and help train local activists to promote the pro-life and pro-family cause in their own communities and nations.
Having travelled to nearly 90 counties, and spoken with faithful pro-life Catholics in numerous developing and first world nations, I have a broad international perspective. I have seen first-hand how the battle against the culture of death is being waged globally, and that no country has escaped the pressure from the anti-life and anti-family juggernaut.
I have also seen how so much of the developing world is constantly under intense pressure from first world nations and well-heeled foundations to fall in line when it comes to an anti-life view of the life and family issues.
Local pro-life activists in developing nations regularly express their frustration to me that they are under siege from international anti-life and anti-family forces. It is routine, for instance, for western governments and foundations to offer substantial financial and infrastructure aid, but on condition of also accepting things like massive shipments of contraceptives, or introducing graphic sex-education in schools.
Biden Administration Boosts International Anti-Life Funding
Although I regularly stay in touch with our international representatives, not being able to be with them over the past year has been difficult. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the global perspective, and to fail to notice that what happens here in the United States also has a huge effect way beyond our borders.
I was thinking of our international partners when I read this news item about Vice President Kamala Harris speaking at the UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum, which recently happened in Paris. During the Forum the White House put out a “statement of commitments” on women’s issues.
“The Biden Administration is committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and around the world,” says that document. “Everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care regardless of their income or where they live.”
As I’m sure you know, in international jargon “sexual and reproductive health” is a euphemism that includes contraception and abortion, among other things. That is, the “health care” that the Biden administration thinks everyone should have access to includes having doctors kill unborn children, and easy access to drugs to sterilize women.
Among “domestic commitments” the Biden-Harris administration mentioned, are things like repealing the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding from going towards abortion, and increasing Title X Family Planning funding, some of which goes to Planned Parenthood.
International commitments, also, include rescinding the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits taxpayer funding from being used to promote abortion overseas, and resuming funding the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The administration also pledged to increase funding to the UNFPA to over $56 million in 2022 (a 72% increase from 2021).
In addition, the Biden-Harris administration vowed to “Commit publicly with like-minded countries to a series of progressive meetings on continuing and expanding essential sexual and reproductive health service delivery on the margins of WHA and WHO regional committees, the UN General Assembly, World Economic Forum, and World Bank fall meetings, among others.”
As the article I linked to above puts it: “Translation: the Biden administration will use its influence in international venues to expand access to abortion around the world.”
On the same day as the Biden administration made its commitments, the Ford Foundation also announced that it would be committing $420 million (the numbers are truly staggering) over the next five years to combat “gender inequality.” Naturally, among the issues that the money will support is “sexual and reproductive health and rights.” The Foundation also promised “to leverage investments in the leadership of women and girls of color, transgender, gender nonconforming people across social justice movements.”
The UNFPA’s Bizarre Math
The Trump administration, like every recent Republican administration, had ceased funding of UNFPA, and for good reason. The UNFPA is one of the most radical population control organizations on the planet. In the past, its representatives have even been caught assisting China in implementing and enforcing its brutal population control policies.
In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict warned that some non-governmental organizations “work actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned.” UNFPA is one such organization.
A few days ago, UNFPA marked “World Population Day.” In its statement for the occasion, UNFPA quoted Dr. Alexander Hamilton arguing that every dollar invested in “family planning” somehow brings a “$120 return in health, social and economic benefits.”
It’s hard for me even to wrap my head around that claim. How on earth do they calculate this? Somehow, $1 spent on contraceptives or abortion magically multiplies itself 120 times, and turns into $120? How does this work?
But it certainly provides a remarkable insight into the mentality of population control extremists. No wonder UNFPA dedicates so much of its energy towards “family planning.” Why bother spending money on things like building infrastructure, improving food access, providing clean water, training teachers, and encouraging entrepreneurship when all you need to do is buy more condoms, distribute more birth control pills, and promote abortion, and somehow you will magically get huge health, social and economic benefits!
This is the perverse, and frankly, racist thinking that motivates so much of the population control industry. Rather than providing the essential things that people need, they prefer to provide and promote inessentials, and to undermine the pro-family cultures in many countries. Rather than help build and develop, they would rather pressure families to have fewer children, and then call it a day.
Openness to Life and Authentic Development
Reading the commitments made by the Biden administration and Ford Foundation, it’s easy to think of them as being just abstract promises. It’s hard to grasp the real-world impact. But I have seen first-hand how decisions made at the highest levels of U.S. government and by wealthy western foundations profoundly affect the lives of people halfway around the world – for better or worse.
When you travel to developing world countries, you quickly realize that there are networks of non-profit groups all over the place, involved in all sorts of activities, including education, health care, farming, lobbying, radio broadcasting and others. Many of these groups are not primarily funded with local money, but rather by foreign governments and foundations.
Some of them do good and necessary humanitarian work. But many of them are either suffused with anti-life and anti-family western values that they bring to everything they do, or are explicitly dedicated to promoting decadent Western sexual morals and practices. By allowing U.S. foreign aid to go to organizations that are involved in promoting abortion, the Biden-Harris administration is actively bolstering the culture of death in those countries.
However, as Pope Benedict emphasized in his encyclical on international development, “openness to life” is at the “center” of any authentic development, and “cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples.” Some parts of the world, he said, “still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion.”
He added: “In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress.”
Tragically, under the Biden administration, the United States is one such country, exporting our anti-birth mentality “as if it were a form of cultural progress.” This provides one more reason for the election of pro-life and pro-family politicians to office and promoting a Culture of Life here at home. Not only does this protect our own country from the worst ravages of the culture of death, but it also has a significant impact on our global neighbors, who are relying on us to assist them in protecting their cultures and nations from the culture of death.