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Islamophobia Trumps “Pro-Life” Ideology

2:43 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Eleanor J. Bader for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Just three days into 2013, Annika Rydh, a Swedish government official from the town of Almhult, issued a shrill call to both her colleagues and neighbors. Worried about the perceived growth of the Muslim population in her homeland and beyond, she urged the European Union “to act by having some kind of restriction, like the one-child policy in China.” If Muslims don’t like the proposed rule, she continued, they can go back where they came from.

Rydh’s appeal comes on the heels of a decade-long campaign to curtail Muslim immigration into western countries and reduce the number of babies born to Muslim families. International in scope, the anti-Islam movement relies on scare tactics that, more often than not, imply that the Judeo-Christian traditions are in danger of being trampled by Sharia law.   

Joseph D’Agostino of the virulently anti-abortion Population Research Institute makes the case: “Because Christians and Jews are refusing to have children, refusing to get married, and having such low birth rates, the Muslims are going to inherit the earth.”

His boss, PRI founder Steven W. Mosher, goes even farther: “Many security experts have long believed that excessive population growth in Muslim countries is a national security threat to the west.”

And not to be outdone, Daniel Pipes’ Mideast Forum rails that “indigenous Europeans are dying out. Sustaining a population requires each woman on average to bear 2.1 children; in the European Union the overall rate is one-third short, at 1.5 a woman and falling… To keep its working population even, the EU needs 1.6 million immigrants a year. Into the void are coming Islam and Muslims. As Christianity falters, Islam is robust, assertive, and ambitious.” Pipes then goes on to posit reasons for the diminishing birthrate amongst people of traditional European backgrounds, blaming “the education of women, abortion on demand, and adults too self-absorbed to have children” for the alleged Muslim takeover.

“Islamization will happen,” Pipes writes, “for Europeans find it too strenuous to have children, stop illegal immigration, or even diversify their sources of immigrants. Instead, they prefer to settle unhappily into civilized senility.”

Lest you think Pipes can be summarily dismissed as little more than a ranting crackpot — or as someone who has himself succumbed to “civilized senility” — beware. Pipes is now a Taube Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, has taught at the University of Chicago and Harvard, and has served as an advisor to former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former President George W. Bush. What’s more, Pipes surrounds himself with fellow travelers including noted racist Pamela Geller and bloggers at sites including muslimpopulation.com, exposingliberallies.blogspot.com, FrontPageMagazine.com, and shariaunveiled.com.

And don’t forget the burgeoning population of anti-choice bedfellows. Surprising as it seems, a host of  anti-choicers have demonstrated a clear tilt toward population control when it comes to Muslims. Indeed, it seems apparent that, for them, racism and Islamophobia trump unbridled procreation for Mohammed’s adherents.

“The Muslims have said they will destroy us from within,” Flip Benham of Operation Save America reports. “Today’s 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22 percent of the world’s population. ..Muslims will exceed 50 percent of the world’s population by the end of the century.”

Similarly, Donald Spitz’ Army of God advocates violence against abortion providers as well as against “satanic Muslims” and anti-choice candidates Randall Terry of Operation Rescue and Gary Boisclair of the Society for Truth and Justice coupled ending legal abortion with limiting Muslim immigration in their unsuccessful 2012 bids for elected office.

Ibrahim Hooper, Press Secretary of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, attributes the increasing hysteria over the purported rise of Islam to an age-old trend to demonize anything or anyone perceived as different. “Whenever a minority is targeted by bigots, they start by saying that ‘they’ are going to take over the world. It’s always the same language, and the bigots simply insert the offending group — at different times it has been Muslims, Jews, and Hispanics. In each case the opposition assigns the disliked group far more power than they actually have. The scary thing is that the folks that promulgate this irrational fear and hatred operate in a bubble of unreality that can’t be penetrated with truth, logic, or facts.”

Ah, yes, facts. According to Doug Saunders, author of The Myth of the Muslim Tide, [Vintage, 2012] “the family size of Muslim immigrant groups are converging fast with those of average westerners — faster, it seems, than either Catholic or Jewish immigrants did in their time. Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2 children per family, barely above the national average. And while Pakistanis in Britain have 3.5 children each, their British-born daughters have only 2.5.”

As for the United States, Saunders writes that there are presently 2.6 million Muslims living in the 50 states, and while this number is expected to increase to 6.2 million by 2030, the overall Muslim population will still comprise just 1.7 percent of the total. In other words, 17 years from today, Muslims will account for the same proportion of the American body politic as Jews and Episcopalians.   

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House GOP Renews Misguided Effort to Defund UNFPA, Risking the Lives of Millions of Women

1:02 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Valerie DeFillipo for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

 

On the heels of Vice President Biden’s recent trip to China, the GOP leadership of the House of Representatives issued a misguided ultimatum to President Obama: defund UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, or else.

UNFPA is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data to develop policies and programs to reduce poverty, to strengthen reproductive health programs, and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.  In a world where 215 million women want access to family planning services but do not have it, in which women make up the majority of those infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, and in which complications of pregnancy remain the leading cause of deaths among women in many countries, UNFPA is needed more than ever before.

This is not a controversial agenda.  In fact, it is one shown to be supported by the vast majority of Americans. As noted by a Guttmacher Institute Report, 91 percent of Americans believe that “every woman on the planet deserves access to quality maternal and reproductive health care.” Another found 89 percent in favor of “health care services, including access to basic health care and family planning services” as a way to promote economic development and advance the status of women and girls.

But as a result of misguided ideology and politics, and at a time when women’s most fundamental rights are under assault, we have been thrust into a dangerous game of falsehoods versus reality- and the stakes are high. What is the life of one woman worth? When reproductive rights are politicized, the health and safety of every woman hangs in the balance.

Each year, over 150 countries around the world contribute to helping UNFPA carry out the vital tasks it has been assigned by members of the United Nations, including the United States of America. As a global leader, the U.S. should continue to show the way.  U.S. financial support to UNFPA affirms the United States’ long-held commitment to save lives, slow the spread of HIV and encourage gender equality. Yet partisan politics continues to play an leading role in U.S. contributions to UNFPA. Despite systematic attempts in past Administrations to link UNFPA’s promotion of voluntary family planning services to China’s one child policy, no such connection exists. In 2002, both a UK parliamentary delegation as well as an independent blue-ribbon delegation sent to China by the U.S. State Department found no evidence that UNFPA supported China’s coercive birth policies. Indeed, the delegation reported that UNFPA advocated against and was a force for changing those policies. Still, UNFPA received no contribution from the U.S. from 2001 to 2007.

To be clear, UNFPA does not support coercion in family planning, coercive abortions or forced sterilizations anywhere.  The rejection of these practices is a fundamental principle of UNFPA’s mandate from members of the United Nations members, and as part of the mandate of the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994), the development of which the U.S. played a critical leadership role.

In reality, UNFPA promotes voluntary family planning and opposes all forms of coercion, targets or quotas. Americans support the work of UNFPA and recognize that the ability to make important decisions about childbearing is one of the most basic human rights. Supporting voluntary family planning and reproductive health care programs is a critical step toward improving the status of women and upholding these basic human rights around the world. And, as about one fifth of the world’s population, Chinese men and women have the same right as peoples elsewhere to learn about and gain from the voluntary approach family planning. And this is exactly what Americans want UNFPA to continue doing on the ground.

Claims attempting to link UNFPA with a gender imbalance resulting from son preference in China are equally unfounded. The UN and UNFPA in particular have made strong declarations against gender imbalance. In fact, UNFPA broke the taboo on this issue and became the first international agency to highlight the problem to Chinese authorities. Along with other UN agencies, UNFPA is coordinating an initiative on joint work to tackle the root causes of son preference. UNFPA’s 2008-2013 Strategic Plan calls for issues around sex preference and sex-selection to be included in analyses of efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, in reproductive health-care studies, and in international forums. Today, UNFPA continues to promote gender equality in China and leads efforts to reduce discrimination and violence against women.

UNFPA’s core programs help mothers survive pregnancy and childbirth, and deliver healthy newborns. The programs also encourage and enable couples to determine the number and spacing of their children and reduce the incident of HIV/AIDS. When U.S. funding is withheld, UNFPA’s lifesaving work will unquestionably dwindle, making women the pawns in this dangerous game. We simply cannot allow this to happen in the spirit of ideological demagoguery and ultimatums.