By Michelle Bauman and Estefania Aguirre
Two of the world’s largest abortion providers are being funded by the European Union’s development aid budget, says a recent report by the non-governmental organization European Dignity Watch.
The findings, which were presented at a March 27 meeting in Brussels as part of a “Week for Life” initiative, drew criticism from members of the European Parliament.
“In Slovakia we cannot finance abortion because it goes against our domestic law,” European Parliament member Miroslav Mikolasik told CNA.
“We have to question the EU Commission on how they think the money they give is being used and whether they stand for life or are against it.”
European Dignity Watch explained in its report that the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International are both “major beneficiaries” of EU funds, receiving millions of dollars for projects relating to “sexual and reproductive health.”
In its regulations on supporting developing countries, the European Union explicitly excludes abortion funding and multiple EU member states have stringent laws restricting the procedure.
However, both Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes consider abortion to be a key part of “sexual and reproductive health.” Planned Parenthood has stated that one of its goals is a “universal recognition of a woman’s right to choose and have access to safe abortion.”
Based on documents and correspondence between the two abortion groups, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the European Commission, which functions as the executive body of the EU, the recent report gives examples of instances in which the abortion-supporting organizations received EU money for “reproductive and sexual health” projects.
In a project in Bolivia, Guatemala and Peru, which was given more than 1.7 million euros by the EU, Planned Parenthood and its member organizations distributed more than 1100 “emergency contraception units,” a term that it never defined, but one that is often used to describe early abortion-inducing drugs.
In addition, Marie Stopes provided training for “manual vacuum aspiration” abortions in its Papua New Guinea project, also heavily funded by the European Commission.
The report also found that the organizations bypassed abortion prohibitions by using technical discrepancies in terms.
Planned Parenthood reported that during its Bangladesh project, which began in 2005 and received 1.48 million euros from the European Commission, it provided “menstrual regulation” services for many of its clients.
Marie Stopes also reported providing “menstrual regulation” for more than 12,000 patients in Bangladesh.
However, on its website, Planned Parenthood describes “menstrual regulation” as a process that empties the uterus of a woman who has been “at risk of conception.”
The procedure uses the suction from a high-powered vacuum to remove the contents of the uterus, which may include a human embryo or fetus.
Planned Parenthood claims that this differs from surgical abortion because the pregnancy is never verified through a pregnancy test, so while the woman may suspect that she is pregnant, it is not confirmed.
But despite these technical distinctions, European Dignity Watch concluded in its report that the evidence clearly shows that Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes “are perpetrating abortion in foreign countries while receiving Commission money intended to aid development in third-world countries.”
The organization voiced concern that despite receiving these reports, the European Commission has continued funding both groups. It queried whether measures are being taken to ensure that the Commission is not funding abortion and called for further investigation.
“This raises questions,” group executive director Sophia Kuby told CNA. “What are the consequences for such a misuse of European budgets and what could be done to prevent such misuse in the future?”
Theresa Okafor, director of Life League in Nigeria who also attended the meeting, was troubled by what she viewed as the potentially far-reaching effects the global abortion funding efforts.
Okafor questioned why the EU is seeking to reduce the population in places such as Africa when “we’ve seen that economic progress actually corresponds with population growth.”