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Global Monitor

USAID and Population Council program endangers Honduran women and children:

A Commission of the Honduran Medical Association issued a report on the distribution of the contraceptive mini-pill, Ovrette (Norgestrel), by the Institute of Honduran Social Security (IHSS). The Commission appointees were Dr. Marel de Jesus de Castellanos, Dr. Pedro R. Porlillo, Dr. Marcial Vides Turcios and Dr. Orison Valaquez.

The Commission concluded : Ovrette had been donated by the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and used under the program “Project Health Sector 2” at a cost of U.S. $3 million during 1989-1994. Registry with the Department of Health was not required under the Health Code (Art. 10, No. 3) since Ovrette had entered the country as a donation. The Department of Health, in turn, donated the drug to IHSS.

Further, the report said that Ovrette was distributed through a program of operations research on reproductive and prenatal care approved by the IHSS in May 1990. The program, of which Ovrette is a sub-program, is partly funded by the USAID-funded Population Council.

The women patients were not given any written information on the drug although they were shown videos on general aspects of the program. While the physicians received training about the program, they were not given either a guide for the use of Ovrette or literature issued by the manufacturer.

Ovrette is an oral contraceptive manufactured by Wyeth. Its active ingredient is a synthetic steroid, a progestagen, named Norgestrel. Contraindications for Ovrette include: non-lactating women who exhibit side·effects, such as, dizziness, water retention, migraine, etc.; non-lactating women with contraindica- tions for estrogen; lactating women who reject other contracep- tive drugs. The U.S. Pharmacopeia and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not authorize the drug for use by lactating women.

Norgestrel decreases the production and increases the viscosity of cervical mucous; suppresses the luteal hormone and the follicle stimulating hormone midway through the menstrual cycle; and interferes with the implantation of the fertilized egg.

As with other progestagens, Norgestrel passes through to the mother’s milk. In 1993, the American Pharmacopeia reported that these hormones can cause harmful effects to the child, and recommended switching medications or discontinuation of lactation. It also stated that an obligation existed to warn users of the danger. The World Health Organization (1983) and Harlap (1987) were concerned about the possibility of injury to one or more organs and for systems by the progestagens. The possibilities included alterations to personality, behavior, anatomy of sexual organs, reproductive capacity, immunological function and development of neoplasia. It is unknown if any possible damage will be detected in puberty or during the reproductive age since there is no study of exposed children that are older than 12 years of age (“Final report about the use in Honduras of the oral contraceptive Ovrette (Norgestrel) in lactating women,” Honduran Medical Association, 7 June 1993).

Abortion as population control:

On 1 April 1993, White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers answered questions from the press on federal funding for international population groups.

Myers: The question was why was the administration considering federal funds to pay for population control groups that support abortion, pay for abortion. That’s the presidents position…as you know, the president has a different position than the previous administrations on choice. We continue to believe that supporting population control efforts is both necessary and useful, and the president will continue to pursue that.

Q: Is abortion a population control method?

Myers: It’s up to various groups. It’s certainly among the things that have been funded previously, before there were restrictions on federal funds. It’s part of the overall approach to population control.

Q: Isn’t there a difference between allowing a woman to have a choice and requiring taxpayers to pay for abortions?

Myers: Well it’s part of a comprehensive approach to population control in this context. Yes, there is a difference. What the president has done in terms of overturning the Hyde Amendment or moving to make that change is the federal government ought not to dictate policy to the states. Medicaid for instance is funded by a combination of state and federal funds. The president believes that the states ought to have more discretion over how that money is spent and that the federal government ought not to dictate it.

Q: But there’s a next step. The federal government is using taxpayers’ money to pay for abortions directly.

Myers: The federal government is using taxpayer money to promote population control (Briefing transcript, 1 April 1993 ).

A long-lasting, reversible, pregnancy-preventing vaccine:

A new vaccine has been developed which is being tested on women volunteers at two New Delhi hospitals. The vaccine prevents a woman’s body from recognizing that conception has taken place. It also neutralizes the hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy, making pregnancy impossible.

The vaccine, which is the result of research begun in 1975 by Dr. Gursaran Talwar, Director of India’s National Institute of Immunology, lasts for one-year and neither stops ovulation nor alters the menstrual cycle. Dr. Talwar emphasizes that the vaccine is not a contraceptive, since its hormone intervention acts after conception but prior to embryo implantation, that is, according to Dr. Talwar, before pregnancy can be established. “Nearly 75 percent of embryos are normally lost at this stage,” he said. “The vaccine simply increases this incidence to near 100 percent.” The latest clinical studies of the vaccine resulted in one pregnancy in 88 women observed over 821 menstrual cycles. Talwar looks forward to the vaccine being available for public use before the end of the decade (International Dateline, June 1993, Population Communications International).

Fashioning the citizen of the new world order:

The United Nations (U.N.) International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) is one of a series of U.N. meetings which are designed to establish a worldwide agenda. These meetings include the 1992 Conference for Environment and Development, (UNCED), the 1994 International Conference for Population and Development, Cairo (ICPD), the 1995 World Women’s Conference (WWC), Beijing, and the 1995 World Summit for Social Development (WSSD), Denmark.

The Under-Secretary General for policy coordination and sustainable development, Nitin Desai, described the ICPD as a bridge between UNCED and the 1995 World Summit on Social Development. He also said that the Cairo Conference will provide the background for the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. He called for the integration of demographic concerns in environmental and developmental efforts and urged governments to include population control in their planning processes (U.N. press release, 20 May 1993).

Denmark’s representative, whose country will host the WSSD, claimed that the Summit will provide “the opportunity to put people at the center of development and provide a common framework for the United Nations activities. This accorded with Nalis Sadik’s statement that, “the centrality of the individual in all our activities and decisions” dominated the ICPD theme.

The U. N. General Assembly identified the “core issues” of the Summit as: “enhancement of social integration particularly of the more disadvantaged and marginalized groups; alleviation and reduction of poverty; and expansion of production employment.”

The Summit’s objectives set by the U.N. General Assembly include: “promoting higher standards of living, full employment, conditions of economic and social progress and development; the expression of a world-wide commitment to put the needs of people at the centre of development and international cooperation; and non-governmental initiatives? The intent of the objectives is to “assist countries in the implementation of efficient social policies.” The Commission for Social Development suggests that the core issues should be developed as “action-oriented plans and programs, which could be monitored [by the United Nations] on a continuing basis” (U.N. Press Release, 13 April 1993).

Converting Africa will be “an arduous process”:

The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) reports that 95 percent of global population is taking place in the developing world. In contrast, birth rates in developed countries are so low that population declines are virtually inevitable. Africa leads the world in population growth, with African women averaging over six children each, while European women as a whole average 1.6 children. In the U.S., a modestly high birth rate and the world’s highest incidence of immigration are combining to produce unexpectedly high population growth. Hong Kong and Italy have the world’s lowest fertility rates at 1.2 and 1.3 children per woman, and East Asian countries have the lowest birth rates in the developing world. PRB says the “introduction of effective family planning methods in Africa will be an arduous process.” But, ever hopeful, they say that in some African countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, the “growing number of couples practicing family planning indicates that birth rates can be brought down” (International Dateline, June 1993).

Women as Trojan horse at UNFPA conference in Mexico:

Nafis Sadik, executor of the United Nations Population Conference, addressed the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Conference on Population and Development in Mexico City (29 April – 4 May).

“Success in family planning means redefining many long-held attitudes, especially towards women. Women are at the center of the development process. If we are to achieve sustainable development they will have to become both the architects and the beneficiaries of policies and programs. We need a concerted effort to integrate women’s concerns into all population policy programming,” said Dr. Nafis Sadik, executive director of UNFPA, and secretary general of the upcoming 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

The primary recommendations of the Latin American conference included the need to recognize the regulation of fertility as a human right and government’s responsibility “to ensure the full exercise of this right.” It was stressed that family planning programs cannot be detached from social policies, and that governments need to collaborate with NGOs and the private sector to make services accessible to the most disadvantaged groups. Noting a concern for teenage pregnancy, the recommendations urged governments to focus particular attention on population education, and to reconsider regulations restricting teenagers’ access to contraceptive methods (JOICFP News, no. 229, July 1993).

Conventional wisdom challenged:

Writing in World Policy Journal, a Columbia University specialist in urban planning noted that “Even a cursory review of emigration patterns reveals that there is no systematic relationship between emigration and what conventional wisdom holds to be the principal causes of emigration” namely overpopulating, poverty, and economic stagnation.” Professor Saskia Sassen said: “Population pressures certainly signal the possibility of increased emigration. Yet such pressures whether measured by population growth or population density” are not in them- selves particularly helpful in predicting which countries will have major outflows of emigrants, since some countries with rapidly growing populations experience little emigration (many Central African countries fall into this category), while other countries with much lower population growth rates (such as South Korea), or relatively low density (such as the Dominican Republic), are major sources of migration.

Professor Sassen’s article reviewed “other intervening factors,” such as, “the establishment of political, military, and economic linkages with the United States, patterns of foreign investment, mobilization of large numbers of women into wage labor, the l965 liberalization of the U.S. immigration law, the “unfading image” of the U.S. as the land of opportunity, and changes in labor demand in the U.S. According to Sassen, U.S. immigration policy should not persist in viewing immigration as a “problem whose roots lie in the inadequacy of socioeconomic conditions in the Third World” and should recognize that “the United States, as a major industrial power and supplier of foreign investment, beats a certain amount of responsibility for the existence of international labor migrations” (Saskia Sassen, “America’s immigration ‘problem’” World Policy Journal, vol. VI, no. 4, Fall 1989, 811-832).

Words of ‘wisdom’:

“The continued withholding of vital funds from the U.N. Population Fund can lead to population growth of such profound magnitude in the coming decades that all other efforts — at home and abroad — to achieve economic prosperity would be utterly futile” (Madeline K. Albright, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations).

Building a successful family planning program:

J.S. Parsons, deputy director for the Asia and the Pacific Division of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) addressed the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (IOICFP). The topic of her talk was the transferability of the experiences of Indonesia’s family planning (FP) program to other countries. The key “transferrable concept,” is the mobilization of a variety of formal and informal -leaders. “Traditionally, these have been the religious leaders. The amount of time, energy and money that have been spent by the [Indonesian program] in motivating religious leaders is incredible. It has been a slow process, but it has generally paid off.” The effort resulted in “greater tolerance” for elements of the population control programs “which in other circumstances might be considered sensitive to religious values.”

The print and electronic media were also “very carefully cultivated.” Contests were held for reporters who produced the best family planning stories. The media are also involved in virtually every international meeting that occurred on population or family planning (JOICFP News, no. 229, July 1993).

The risks of low-dose oral contraceptives:

“Lidegaard from Copenhagen performed a retrospective case-control study of 794 women in Denmark who suffered a cerebral thromboembolic attack during 1985-1989 by sending a questionnaire to each of them. The return rate yielded 320 cases, of which 116 were oral contraceptive users at the time of the cerebral thrombosis. This gave a crude relative risk of 3.0.

“Using multivariate analysis, pills containing 50 mcg of estrogen were associated with a relative risk of 2.9, while those that contained 30-40 mcg of estrogen were associated with a relative risk of cerebral thrombosis. Thus, Lidegaard concludes that low-close oral contraceptives are still associated with an increased risk of cerebral thrombosis, although the relative risk is significantly lower than 50-mcg estrogen pills” (OB/GYN CLINICAL ALERT, vol. 10, Number 3, July 1993, p.22; Source: Abstracts and commentaries Lidegaard O., British Medical Journal, 1993; 306:956-963).

Migration phobia flourishes:

The U.N· Economic Commission for Europe, the Council of Europe and the U.N. Population Fund sponsored a four-day international conference on population problems in Europe and North America. The purpose of the conference was to evolve a strategy for the world population conference in Cairo in September 1994.

Recommendations were formulated by the 45 countries and 85 organizations represented at the conference. It was suggested that both “sending and receiving” countries should reduce causes of “massive uncontrolled” migration through the liberalization of world trade and the privatization of the economy in “formerly state-run” countries. Countries receiving migrants, i.e., ‘destination countries,’ “should be allowed to control admission” but “racist violence” should be controlled.

It was also suggested that, due to the problems of aging populations, “governments should adopt policies more friendly towards child—raising and larger families” (“Migrations should be controlled,” DPA, Geneva, 26 March 1993).

Negative Population Growth, Inc.:

Mailing envelopes used by the Negative Population Growth, Inc., previously bore the slogan “Any cause is a lost cause without population control.” In its most recent mailing, however, the slogan reads “Any cause is a lost cause without a reduction in population.” In the mailing: “To summarize: NPG contends that U.S. and world population growth are careening out of control, and that the strong measures we advocate — far different from the inadequate half measures now in effect — offer the only hope of dealing effectively with a problem of truly terrifying proportions.”

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