A leaked State Department cable shows the U.S. government has considered granting money to pro-abortion groups in Mexico. Critics warned that the grants would fund “radical” organizations seeking to change Mexican society and legalize abortion under the guise of combating violence against women.
The document is evidence of a “quiet yet seismic shift” in U.S. foreign aid priorities, said Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute vice president Terrence McKeegan. Large segments of foreign aid are being given to “activist groups whose main activity is to advocate for radical social changes in national laws,” he charged.
U.S. funding would strengthen organizations that are “far outside the mainstream of Mexican and Latin American society in general,” said Joseph Meaney, director of international coordination at Human Life International, on March 18. “It is clearly aimed at changing their culture in a more liberal direction through outside funding.”
A Feb. 22, 2010 cable from the U.S. Embassy to Mexico, published by WikiLeaks, lists four grant applications for the small grants initiative of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.
The embassy’s first preference, a proposal from Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer (Semillas), would fund a project to diminish gender violence in the states of Chiapas and Guanajuato. However, the cable reports that one of the three main program themes of the organization is “sexual and reproductive rights” issues such as sexual education for young people, the “right to decide” and “sexual diversity.”
McKeegan told CNA on March 18 that Semillas is headed by “a radical feminist” credited with bringing about the abortion liberalization law in Mexico City. He questioned how a group which claims that the “violence of abortion” solves women’s problems can be taken seriously as opposing violence against women.
The U.S. embassy’s third-preferred grant applicant was the Women’s Center for Human Rights (Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres), also known as CEDEHM. Its proposed program would promote awareness of the rights of female victims of violence and advocate for more effective responses to victims in the state of Chihuahua.
The program would produce an animated five-minute video and brochure for rape victims. The materials would instruct victims about measures to take after being raped, such as medical and legal alternatives for abuse reporting.
The materials would also instruct victims about having “access to safe and legal abortions.”
The fourth-ranked grant applicant, I(dh)eas – Strategic Human Rights Litigation (Litigio Estrategico en Derechos Humanos), also focused on violence against women. However, the background information on the organization noted that it is working on a Ford Foundation-funded film about “sexual and reproductive rights” and “legal interruption of pregnancy.”
CNA contacted the Office of Global Women’s Issues to determine whether any of the grants were approved but did not receive a reply by publication time.
Meaney charged that feminist organizations frequently use the issue of violence against women to obscure their programs of birth control and abortion. There are many “wonderful and non-ideological organizations” which help abused women, Meaney said, but they are often local and not as organized as “the radical groups which aggressively seek out funding.”
Further, many post-abortive women claim that feminist organizations like Planned Parenthood pushed them into having abortions which “they now deeply regret.”
He cited a study by Dr. David Reardon which found the “vast majority” of pregnant rape and incest victims did not want abortions but were emotionally manipulated into having them. One hundred percent of pregnant victims who gave birth said they made the right choice, while a large majority of those who aborted said they regretted their decision.
McKeegan defended the innocence of the unborn child, saying he or she is entitled to “the same protections as everyone else.”
“It is revolting that women’s groups continue to propose adding a second tragedy of killing the unborn child to the tragedy of the rape,” he commented.
The leaked cable outlining the grants is more clear and transparent than most government requests, Meaney noted.
“This is probably because it was not intended for publication and public consumption,” he said.
U.S. funding for these groups could create a “powerful lobby” to change foreign countries’ laws and to make “substantial” cultural changes.
Mexico has “strict laws” forbidding most abortions outside the Mexico City Federal District, and groups such as Semillas hope to “reverse protection of the right to life of preborn children.” Such groups have also made “significant” attempts to promote same-sex “marriage” and a greater acceptance of homosexuality, he reported.
Under Republican administrations since 1984, the U.S. government has held to the Mexico City Policy which bars taxpayer funding for organizations which promote or perform abortion overseas. President Obama lifted the policy in January 2009.
But Meaney thought the grants in the WikiLeaks cable would “probably not have been made illegal” by the previous policy, which applies only to funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and not other branches of the State Department.
“This actually shows how restrained this policy was,” he said.
For his part, McKeegan thought the grants would have been forbidden.
“This is precisely why pro-abortion groups demanded that President Obama rescind the Mexico City Policy, so that their own organizations could once again receive U.S. funding,” he explained.
One grant proposal in the cable shows U.S. involvement to advance feminist goals in Mexico’s political process. It came from the Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equality (Consorcio para el Dialogo Parlamentario y la Equidad), which organizes alliances related not only to women’s political and social rights, but also their “sexual and reproductive rights.”
The proposal, listed as the U.S. embassy’s second preference, aimed to fund the consortium to “promote the arrival and permanence of women in elected positions” by encouraging compliance with mandatory gender quotas for Mexican political parties’ lists of candidates.
Meaney said U.S. support for gender quotas could affect Mexican politics, even though there are many conservative women who run for office and win.
“They could benefit from these quotas, but typically only those who are quite liberal get foreign support,” he commented. “Socially radical political parties tend to promote women as candidates more than conservative parties do.”
McKeegan was more forceful in his criticism, charging that the quotas empowered “radical feminists” who “can’t win a fair election on their own.”
“These gender quotas fly in the face of the reality that women simply don’t run for office at nearly the same rate as men do, partly because many of them have chosen to be mothers and homemakers for their vocation instead of having a full-time professional career,” he said. “As long as the feminists keep denying this reality, they will do more disservice to the women they claim to represent.”
The U.S. House of Representatives authorized the creation of the Office of Global Women’s Issues in June 2009. At the time, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) voiced concerns that the office would be used to advance abortion. This would worsen Latinos’ and Africans’ perceptions that Americans are “cultural imperialists,” he warned.
Smith had proposed an amendment to bar the office from promoting or providing abortions, but it was defeated.