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Is Kenya Trying to Sterilize Its Poor?

Earlier this month, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya took the unusual step of telling their flock not to participate in a tetanus-vaccination program administered by the government and sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.


The reason for their call for non-participation was not opposition to vaccines in general. It was, according to the Bishops, that the vaccination program was actually “a clandestine population control program disguised as a tetanus vaccine program.”


According to the Bishops, they had “several vials” of the vaccine tested by “four unrelated Government and private laboratories in Kenya and abroad,” and all of the vials contained the “Beta-HCG hormone which causes infertility and multiple miscarriages in women.”


They presented copies of their findings to governmental officials who quickly denied all wrongdoing, as did the WHO and UNICEF officials.


But the Bishops aren’t backing down.


From 7,500 miles away, it’s difficult to know to what extent, if any, the Bishops’ charges are true. What isn’t difficult to know is that, given the history of birth control programs, especially when it comes to the poor and people of color, there is ample reason to be suspicious.


An example of this history involved the testing of the birth control pill. Before it could gain FDA approval, the pill had to undergo clinical trials. Instead of testing it on the women whom it was ostensibly meant to benefit, middle-class American women, the pill’s inventors tested it on poor women in Puerto Rico.


Starting in 1956, hundreds of poor and uneducated women were given various versions of the pill in sixty-seven locations across the island. Twenty percent suffered side effects ranging from nausea to high blood pressure and potentially lethal blood clots.


None of them were told about these potential side effects, which the pill’s developers explained away, or were told that they were guinea pigs in a clinical trial.


Mind you, these were American citizens. So imagine how poor women in the developing world were treated!


Actually you don’t have to imagine, because I’m going to tell you. For much of the late or early twenty-first centuries, Peruvian health care workers were paid between $4 and $12, a lot of money given how poor they were, for every woman they could “persuade” to be sterilized.


Thus, poor Peruvian women like Felipe Cusi would go to a free clinic complaining about flu-like symptoms and be sterilized without her consent. Others like Emilia Mulatillo would be forced to choose between feeding her children and being sterilized. And the truly unfortunate, like Alejandrina Tapia Cruz, would die after being involuntarily sterilized.


The program behind these abuses of human rights and desecration of human dignity was only one example of many such abuses that have taken place under the banner of family planning.


Look up “compulsory sterilization” on Wikipedia and you’ll find a virtual parade of nations, ranging from obvious bad actors like China to surprising ones like Israel, which admitted to giving Ethiopian immigrants birth control injections without their knowledge or consent.


None of this should surprise us. In 1939, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger proposed a “Negro Project” whose goal was to greatly reduce the birth rate among southern blacks. Not for their sake, but out of a concern about, and I quote, “careless and disastrous” breeding among the “least intelligent and fit.”


So, you’ll excuse the Kenyan Bishops if they don’t simply take the government's word that there’s nothing to see here.  There often has been.


BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Publication date: November 24, 2014

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