China’s one child policy…

…leads to hiding babies and distributing them amongst relatives so as to avoid the authorities. A Chinese demographer therefore suggests the official statistics are wrong:

Liang has discovered discrepancies in China’s census. “In 1990, the national census recorded 23 million births. But by the 2000 census, there were 26 million 10 year-old children, an increase of three million,” he said. His findings suggest that the one-child policy may not have the grim consequences that have been widely predicted.

While I’d be glad to hear that’s true, it doesn’t change the grim nature of the one-child policy. Neither does it change past reports of seeing classrooms filled with boys, for example.

Marie Stopes

…goes big box store.

Marie Stopes International (MSI) has opened five outlets in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu. Here the selective abortion of girls has led to a gender imbalance of up to 131 boys for every 100 girls.

The closeness of MSI’s relationship with the Chinese government was shown earlier this month when Li Bin, its population minister, visited the MSI offices in London and an abortion clinic in Bristol.

Plans are under way to set up three more MSI abortion clinics in China. Marie Stopes argues that its influence will help to change Chinese attitudes and promote the notion of women’s choice.

This is released just days after the first abortion ad from Marie Stopes aired in the UK. It seems that MSI is behaving exactly like any business would and expanding its efforts, in the name of “promoting women’s choice”… in China.

Marie Stopes carries out 65,000 abortions a year in Britain, most of them through NHS contracts for which it receives £30m a year. Surplus funds from the NHS work are channelled into the work of the international division.

Here is a link to their Chinese site. I don’t read mandarin, but the images are enough for me. I took special note of the smiling cartoon airplane flying overhead with its banner reading: “HAPPY!” That part, I could read.

Those rare consensus items

It’s all about context:

But wait a minute. Every previous generation in history would have happily traded places with us. So what if the Germans will have to sacrifice a week or two of paid vacation time, or if hairdressers in Greece will no longer be able to retire with a pension at the age of 50? Almost all their babies live.

Way back I remember writing a news item based on UN data showing how the world, not just the west, was improving on various outcomes and how we were all doing better than just a hundred years ago. Not saying there isn’t room for improvement but context is important.

The nerve

Same day as the March for Life, I went to the National Campus Life Network dinner at a fun, festive, latin restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market. I will be back for some more mojitos and salsa lessons. But I digress.

As we all know, the pro-life movement is populated by largely, old, white men who want to tell women what to do. Evidence in the photo below. These photos keep appearing in my Facebook profile, so I thought it was time to post one. At the dinner, I spoke with eloquent women with degrees from fancy Ivy League universities. Very troubling. As we all further know, pro-life women are home, barefoot and pregnant, wondering how that happened to them. Finally, while waiting for the bus I had a conversation with one young woman whose job was working with the elderly in a home. And I just thought to myself, what nerve! She’s supposed to only care for people while they are in the womb.

People of the pro-life persuasion: Here’s to working ourselves out of the activism niche because of our success. I’ll buy a round of mojitos to that!


Thanks to Julie for sending this:

International human rights organization Equality Now welcomes the AAP’s decision to withdraw its ill-conceived revised policy statement on female genital mutilation issued on April 26, 2010….

The new policy statement essentially promoted Type IV FGM, as categorized by the World Health Organization, and suggested that federal and state laws might be more effective if they “enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick.'” In a release issued today, the AAP stated that it has “retired” its 2010 revised statement on FGM, is opposed to “all forms of female genital cutting” and “does not endorse the practice of offering a ‘clitoral nick.'”

Oh, what rhubarb

More on this business with teen pregnancy rates going down. And the explanations from the self-satisfied “experts” that of course their kind of sex-ed in school caused teens suddenly to become more careful about not getting pregnant.

Sexual literacy (the result of sex education in schools) and access to contraceptives are cited as two key reasons Canada’s teen pregnancy rate fell dramatically between 1996 and 2006, according to a study by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty backed away from plans to introduce an expanded sex ed curriculum this fall, after a public outcry fueled by religious groups. Yet the research from the Sex Information and Education Council does seem to imply that arming young Canadians with information about sex has positive impact. Between 1996 and 2006, teen pregnancy rates in Canada dropped by 37 per cent — more steeply than in the United States, Sweden or the United Kingdom.

Bosh. This implies that 1) the only way to become “sexually literate” is by going through school-based sex ed; that 2) religious parents are against “arming” their own personal young Canadians with information about sex; and that 3) there is significantly less sex-ed in the US than there is in Canada, which I find surprising at best. I’m no expert on religion, but there is not one normal parent I know (religious or not) who’s in favour of keeping their pre-teens and teens in the dark about sex and sexuality (not that they could if they tried). It’s just that not everybody likes the way public sex-ed teachers go about teaching the kids, and I’m guessing a lot of the objections parents have to school-based sex-ed is that it doesn’t talk about morality, the importance of commitment, or anything much outside of pure sex mechanics. Being an expert at unrolling a condom but having no idea why committed, stable relationships are also the ones in which the sex is better doesn’t strike me as fitting the definition of being “armed with information about sex”.

But then, I’m not an expert.

Not easy but always right

Recently on the Washington Post website a few questions were posed, which included a quote by Sarah Palin, “choosing life may not be the easiest path, but it’s always the right path.”

I like that. It’s honest, because choosing life really isn’t always the easiest path. And the right path often isn’t the easiest anyway. It’s usually the more difficult one because that’s kind of the way life is. It is the path that helps people learn how to become better people and persevere and build character, and that’s one of the things I really like about it. You might even call it . . . the rocky road. Like if you’re in Texas right now like I am and the weather is ridiculously hot so that you’re thinking about ice cream all the time.

Anyway, the Washington Post asked about 16 different panelists from different backgrounds to respond to the quote and a question about abortion. One of the panelists, Colleen Carroll Campbell, whose short piece was titled Pro-life feminism is the future, overwhelmingly had more reader comments than any of the others.

It is a consequence of [the abortion-rights lobby and the feminist establishment’s] decades-long campaign to make feminism synonymous with a woman’s right to abort her child and to marginalize any free-thinking feminist who dares to disagree.

It only takes a quick look at the comments at the end of her article to confirm that to be pro-life is to be anti-woman (of course!). Never mind the fact that feminists are supposed to be pro-choice and one of the choices has traditionally been life. Choosing life is anti-woman. Woah, my head is spinning.

For many American women, the feminism that once attracted them with its lofty goal of promoting respect for women’s dignity has morphed into something antithetical to that dignity: a movement that equates a woman’s liberation with her license to kill her unborn child, marginalizes people of faith if they support even modest restrictions on abortion, and colludes with a sexist culture eager to convince a woman in crisis that dealing with
 her unplanned pregnancy is her choice and, therefore, her problem.

Many women are not buying it. They are attracted instead to the message of groups like Feminists for Life, which tells women facing unplanned pregnancies that they should “refuse to choose” between having a future and having a baby. They believe that the best way for a woman to defend her own dignity is to defend the dignity of each and every human person, including the one that grows within her womb. And they reject the false dichotomy of abortion-centric feminism that says respect for human dignity is a zero-sum game in which a woman can win only if her unborn child loses.

The intellectual dishonesty of the old feminist movement is what is driving young women away from it. I don’t know about anybody else, but to me it says “you’re not smart enough to make a good decision, so we’re just giving you these two: success with an abortion or failure with a child” and that sort of insults my intelligence. The new pro-life feminist movement respects us and knows we’re smarter and stronger than that – women can both have a child and be successful.

What to expect

Rightly or wrongly, Catholic clerics are rarely far from the firing line.

Two weeks ago, Cardinal Ouellet said that abortion in the case of rape was wrong. That triggered predictable stories that talked about the ensuing “firestorm of virulent reaction” against the Church, even though Cardinal Ouellet was simply repeating Catholic moral teaching and not proposing an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada.

Charles Lewis’ article here is an insight beyond the surface story to a look at what the Catholic Church is proposing in terms of proactive solutions to Canada’s abortion rates.

I am launching an appeal with my Ottawa colleague [Archbishop Prendergast] for an awareness campaign and [for] more programs providing assistance for women in distress in Canada,” Cardinal Ouellet said. “There is a great scarcity of information, support and financial assistance to enable pregnant women to make an informed choice.”

So what can we expect? More of these types of programs. The Gabriel Project outreach is in its earliest stages in Nova Scotia though it’s already running throughout the US, and we can expect to see more of these laypeople-run/church-supported programs pop up across this country in the near future. They’re an opportunity for the church to be proactive and to get laypeople, even non-Catholics, involved in the process.