Why is PCUSA News Service posting Western Elitist Propaganda?

Last week an article, Latin America lags on reproductive rights, by Purnima Mane appeared on the PCUSA News Service webpage. Mane is president and chief executive officer of Pathfinder International, “a global leader in sexual and reproductive health.” The article is filled with unsupported statements, uncited statistics and references to an unidentified “Program of Action.” Mane states the goals of the Program toward the end of her article:

“. . . expression of and protection for sexual and reproductive rights including access to safe abortion, post-abortion care, and expression of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Additional unstated goals that one can surmise by reading between the lines are: to reduce fertility, increase contraceptive use, and make abortion legal in Latin American Countries. These are presented as strategies to reduce the maternal mortality ratio.
There is much to criticize in this article—so much that it is tempting to just discount it. But, there is potential for harm in the article’s mis-information, and I don't like the way it treats Latin Americans (many of whom are partners in Presbyterian mission). The subtle expressions of disrespect require exposure. With the help of some friends I will be posting a series in response to Mane’s article and its inappropriate posting by the PCUSA New Service. In this first post I will address the anti-fertility message of the article—a message contrary to Biblical teaching and the character of God.

The PCUSA is, after all, a part of the Body of Christ. Everything posted on the PCUSA page should reflect the character of God, and the teaching of Scripture regarding our own lives and the blessing of children. Let me refresh that Biblical backdrop first.

God is Creator and Sustainer of our lives:

Your hands have made me and fashioned me (Psa 119:73)
Your care has preserved my spirit (Job 10:12)
From my mother’s womb, You have been my God (Psa 22:10)

God is life-giving and fruitful and wants our lives to reflect that element of His character:

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28) 
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like?...It is like a grain of mustard seed…it grew and became a tree….It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” Luke 13:18-20

And Children are a blessing from the Lord and belong to Him:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward (Psa 127:3)

As sure as I am the Living God, the sovereign Lord…the life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as the child (Ezek 18:4)
The Pathfinder International article is far from Biblical teaching about life! Sadly, it doesn’t even respect the dignity of those countries and women it is supposed to help!

 Robert (“Bob”) Patterson a PPL friend from New Jersey had this to say in response to Mane’s article:
First of all "reproductive health and rights" –meaning  abortion on demand and birth control—have  nothing to do with women's health or with reproductive "rights" unless you consider fertility and pregnancy a disease. It is all about imposing Western elite ideology on the Global South so that they DON'T reproduce!
Mane’s Western elitism shows when she bemoans higher fertility rates in Bolivia among “women with no education” (6.1) compared to rates of 1.9 for “women with higher education.” Don’t misunderstand me, there is great value in education and it is a value worth promoting for the benefit of women everywhere and for all people, but, if reproductive rights is really Pathfinder’s goal, why perceive a woman as less than if she values bringing children into the world more than gaining education for herself? Why not celebrate a woman’s choice to bear many children?

Mane also notes that fertility rates are higher for rural women (4.9) than for urban dwellers (2.8) in Bolivia—a subtle implication of what? That rural women and fertile women are somehow less desirable? The unstated goal of reducing fertility seems to indicate that Pathfinder International seeks to limit reproduction, not assure a woman’s right to receive all the children that God gives. Mane also points out the high birth rates for adolescent (15-19 year olds) girls. To Pathfinder’s credit, their youth sexuality materials do teach that youth should wait until they are in a special relationship to have sex, but they make no mention of marriage at all.

In February 2010 the PCUSA launched a new mission strategy: “to engage with U.S. Presbyterians and global partners for faithful and effective participation in God’s mission in a globalized world, growing together as communities of mission practice.” The expressed goals of PCUSA mission are to address “the root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; working to share the good news of Jesus Christ; and working for reconciliation among cultures of violence, including our own.”  (emphasis mine)

Let me ask just one question of my fellow Presbyterians. Does attacking fertility and advocating for legalized abortion in countries that now protect the unborn accomplish these PCUSA mission goals? Will more abortions and fewer people really bring prosperity, improve the lives of women and children, share the good news of Jesus Christ, or reduce violence?

Let me finish with another quote from our PPL friend Bob Patterson

And they [i.e. PCUSA] should be celebrating the forces in these counties that defend the sanctity of life and the natural family—against the imposition of the ideology of Western elites.  These things are protectors of health, of life, of reproduction, of women's unique role in the cycle of life.

May God make it so.

Tomorrow this blog will address why abortion is never “safe” and the fallacies that “reproductive health” includes abortion, or that abortion contributes to reducing maternal mortality. Dr. Patricia Lee June will be featured as guest blogger.