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International pro-life groups concerned about USAID nominee

Samantha_Power_vasilis_asvestas_Shutterstock.jpg Credit: vasilis asvestas/Shutterstock

Pro-life advocates are concerned over the nomination of Samantha Power to head a critical U.S. international aid agency. 

 

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Power to be administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In that position, Power would have broad sway to determine which groups would and would not merit U.S. assistance in developing countries.

 

Pro-life leaders are concerned that, given Power’s record in international affairs, she would either direct aid to pro-abortion and pro-LGBT groups in developing countries, or condition U.S. assistance upon groups adopting pro-abortion and pro-LGBT principles.

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Fr. Bonaventure Luchidio, National Director of the Pontifical Missionary Society in Kenya, said in a statement to ACI Africa that he hopes Power “having been a diplomat of highest repute and a global writer and a Pulitzer award winner will not persuade and influence other people's conscience and mind by proposing a pro choice agenda towards aid to needy countries.” 

 

“This will be unethical and immoral at the same time,” Luchidio said. “May human dignity and preferential option to the poor be the guiding principles and concerns that take precedence in all aid given to needy countries without attaching aid to some practices that impair our conscience.” 

 

Power’s nomination to USAID is waiting upon Senate confirmation. She formerly served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the Obama administration.

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Born in London and raised near Dublin,Powerimmigrated to the United States as a child. She worked as a foreign correspondent before turning to foreign policy, and her book on genocide won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2003. 

 

Power, a Catholic, also co-chaired the Catholic outreach for the Biden 2020 presidential campaign.

 

Bishops and leaders of international pro-life groups have questioned what type of American interests would be advanced in their countries on Power’s watch. They likened a pro-abortion U.S. foreign policy to cultural imperialism. 

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For instance, President Biden last week announced he wouldrescindthe Mexico City Policy, opening the door to funding of foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortions abroad. 

 

This action applies to hundreds of millions of dollars in USAID family planning assistance, as well as billions of dollars of U.S. global health assistance. Thus, Power could be in a key position at USAID to direct funding to pro-abortion groups such as Marie Stopes International or the International Planned Parenthood Federation. 

 

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese said in a statement to ACI Africa that under Power, USAID “will doubtlessly pursue an ideological and cultural onslaught against African religious and cultural values.”

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“More than ever, Catholics in particular and Africans in general, need awareness education so as to know what is really going on about the right to life and the gender ideological war,” the bishop said. 

 

Jesús Magaña, president of United for Life – Colombia, said in a statement to ACI Prensa, “It is very sad to see that the new president of the United States of America, Joe Biden, has an agenda of death.” 

 

“This is confirmed by the [selection] of Samantha Power as the new director of the United States development agency (USAID),” Magaña said. 

 

“Her trajectory as a promoter of abortion and the LGBT agenda confirms that the agency will be used in an ideological way to impose programs that distance themselves from the development of the peoples, by imposing agendas of death and destruction of the family and the culture of these peoples of which they pretend to ‘help,’” Magaña said.

 

Ivone Mieles, director of Pro-Life Ecuador, said in a statement that the nomination of Power “leaves us much to think about,” warning that she could bring back the Obama administration’s advocacy for abortion and LGBT causes.

 

“So, this woman who worked in the Obama administration comes back to reactivate in a way what Trump stopped,” Mieles said. “So, it is scary for Latin America, in that sense, the influence that organizations, among others, like Planned Parenthood, will have.”

 

Mieles said that his country is in a vulnerable position, dependent on development assistance. With Power in the Biden administration, “surely the attack and the influence will be more aggressive,” he said. 

 

Luis Losada Pescador, director of campaigns for CitizenGO, said in a statement to ACI Prensa that the Biden presidency will bring about “a serious reversal for the pro-life and pro-family cause.” 

 

“[I]t would allow the use of federal funds to finance abortion outside the United States and the return of 'LGBT diplomacy' in an ideological interference incompatible with respect for the sovereignty of other countries,” Pescador said. 

 

Pescador added that he is preparing for the U.S. to now “promote abortion under the euphemism of ‘sexual and reproductive rights,’” adding that civil society leaders will need to denounce it. 

 

As UN Ambassador, Power gave speeches on LGBT rights, noting actions that the Obama administration had taken in furtherance of that end.

 

At a 2015 address at Harvard University on LGBT rights, Power touted U.S. participation in “the first-ever Ministerial event on LGBT rights” during the 2013 UN General Assembly. 

 

In a 2016 speech to the Human Rights Campaign, Power explained how a 2011 memorandum by President Obama weaved LGBT rights into the “DNA” of U.S. foreign policy and “into the work we do to advance human rights and human dignity around the world.” She said this policy consisted not only of fighting the criminalization of homosexuality by foreign countries, but of sending resources to LGBTI groups.

 

When remarks by Pope Francis on civil unions were made public in October, Powertweetedthat the pope’s purported support for civil unions “will ultimately have a profound impact on how gays and lesbians are treated around the world.”

 

The Vatican later clarified that Pope Francis’ remarks, made in a 2019 interview and included in a documentary that aired in 2020, were referring to a specific 2010 same-sex marriage bill in the Argentine legislature; as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio had opposed it. The Vatican clarified that Bergoglio did support certain legal coverages for same-sex persons living together, which he referred to as “a law of civil union.”

 

After her time in the Obama administration, Power has also supported legal abortion.

In an interview with the Irish Times, Power stated her support for legal abortion in Ireland as part of the “Repeal the 8th” campaign in 2018.

 

Last summer, when the Supreme Court sided with abortion clinics against Louisiana’s regulations, Power tweeted “Good for #SCOTUS to uphold clear precedent,” and called Louisiana’s law “impossibly restrictive.”

This article was originally published on Feb. 2, 2021.

 

 

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