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Ending Human Rights Abuses Committed in the Name of “Family Planning”


June 15, 1999
Volume 1/ Number 5

Dear Friend and Colleague:

Since the 1960's, the United States has been giving money to organizations that run "voluntary family planning" programs around the world. The Tiahrt Amendment – which essentially defines "voluntariness" with respect to family planning, passed the US Congress with bipartisan support, and was signed into law on 22 October 1998. PRI remains concerned of continued violations of the human rights of women in the developing world as the result of family planning projects in nations that receive UD funds.

The Population Research Institute has published a new document entitled Know Your Rights: Women, Family Planning and the US Law, intended for worldwide distribution as a means to report and end human rights abuses committed in the name of family planning.

We ask for your support in helping us get Know Your Rights: Women, Family Planning and the US Law into the hands of as many women and families in the developing world as possible. Simply respond to this e-mail with your request of however many copies you would like us to send you to distribute.

Steven W. Mosher
President

Ending Human Rights Abuses Committed in the Name of "Family Planning"

In 1998, the United States government passed a new law stating that nations that employ family planning programs, in order to receive US funds, must not violate women's human rights. The Tiahrt Amendment, named after its chief patron, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), prescribes the following:

· Family planning programs abroad must not be based on targets or quotas. Family planning programs cannot try to make a woman use a certain contraceptive method, drug or device just because the project's leaders need more women to contracept to fulfill their project's goals. If a woman refuses to participate, her no must mean no. PRI documented how women in India have been sterilized in assembly line fashion based on targets and quotas established by the government to reduce that nation's population (PRI "Know Your Rights: Women, Family Planning and US Law," 5);

· Family planning programs must not bribe a woman to participate. It is illegal for family planning programs to offer money, food, clothing, household goods, medical care, etc. in exchange for using contraception or agreeing to be sterilized. It is also illegal for family planning workers to be offered incentives to get women to contracept or for meeting a target or quota. PRI also documented how medical staff at the sterilization clinic in India collected rewards, cited above, prizes and bonuses after bringing a set number of women to the clinic for sterilization;

· Family planning programs can not tell a woman that she must accept contraception, have an abortion or become sterilized in order to participate in some other government program. PRI documented how women in Peru were cut off from government food programs for refusing to become sterilized (PRI "Know Your Rights: Women, Family Planning and US Law," 6-7).

· Family planning programs may not involve a woman in a test without her permission.

· Family planning programs must be based on informed consent. Family planning workers must tell recipients honestly, and understandably, about the possible risks of contraception or a method of sterilization. PRI documented cases in Vietnam in which women were told they were receiving a routine exam, only to discover later that they were forcibly sterilized with a dangerous acid called quinacrine, (PRI "Know Your Rights: Women, Family Planning and US Law," 12; PRI Review, December 1998 / January 1999). PRI is also concerned about reports of lack of informed consent stemming from the Kosovar refugee crisis. Emergency aid workers are distributing the Multiload 735 IUD to Kosovar refugees likely without information for removal procedures. "There are serious health threats if this IUD is left in after the prescribed duration, including scarring of the uterus, ectopic pregnancy and fetal infection, PRI Review, April / May 1999, 13).

The Tiahrt Amendment means that it is now against US law for the United States government to ignore what has been happening to women around the world for years, as part of countless USAID programs, and in programs which would propose to send US funds through UNFPA for population control in China.

The Population Research Institute has published a new document entitled Know Your Rights: Women, Family Planning and US Law. Know Your Rights provides PRI with a means to inform women of their rights under US law with respect to family planning programs in their nations that receive US funds; and to begin the process of providing documentation to the US Congress of human rights abuses committed in the name of family planning.

All over the world and for many years family planning programs have pressured, forced, coerced, commanded and shamed women into making decisions they did not want to make. If enough women come forward to tell about what happened to them we can put an end to such programs which abuse women.

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