YAOUNDÈ, Cameroon – A British NGO has come under fire from Catholic activists both in Africa and in England for promoting widespread abortion and, in at least one instance, allegedly supplying contraceptives to Kenyan schoolgirls without their parents’ consent.
MSI Reproductive Choices, previously called Marie Stopes International, provides contraception and abortion services in 37 nations. The organization claims that in 2019, it prevented 13 million unintended pregnancies and supplied contraception to 32 million women.
In Africa, the Governments of Kenya, Niger and Zambia have taken action against the organization for allegedly performing illegal abortions. The latest such complaint comes out of Nigeria, where the British-based NGO has been accused of carrying out systematic abortions in the crisis hit northeastern region of the country.
A recent report by the Centre for International And Strategic Studies in collaboration with the Coalition Of Civil Society Organizations On Rights And Security concluded that MSI Reproductive Choices is “responsible for mass abortions in Nigeria.”
In 2017, Catholic bishops in Kenya took issue with MSI Reproductive Choices for allegedly giving girls contraception without parents’ consent.
The international NGO reportedly administered hormonal contraceptives – including Norplant implants – to students at a Catholic high school without the knowledge or consent of their parents.
“We are shocked that this was allowed to happen. What those people did will encourage our young girls to be careless and engage in unprotected sex. They can easily contract sexually transmitted diseases,” said Munanie Muusya, whose daughter reportedly had a Norplant device inserted in her arm.
Father Julius Muthamba, education secretary of the Archbishop Boniface Lele Secondary School in the Diocese of Kitui, described the incident as “scandalous and criminal,” and insisted that the Catholic Church stands against the use of contraceptives.
“It’s sad that this happened within a school we sponsor, but more fundamentally the negative effect — spoiling the girls morally,” he said at the time.
CitzenGo, a far-right advocacy group founded in Spain in 2013, have launched an online petition calling on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discontinue public funding for MSI Reproductive Choices.
“As you take on the leadership of this country, we know that you will have many pressing issues to consider. There are many challenges both on the domestic and international front, and you will have to consider how to best allocate resources in order to best support struggling people in the UK, and to uphold this country’s generosity in helping people beyond our borders,” the petition reads.
“It is deplorable that developed Western nations deem it appropriate to spend millions of pounds on pushing abortion into some of the world’s poorest regions, instead of supplying basic humanitarian and genuine health aid to assist and ease human suffering.
Not only has the government been giving millions of pounds to abortion providers, it has been doing so at the expense of genuine maternal healthcare,” the petition reads.
Between 2016 and 2020, the British government allocated £256 million (roughly US $308 million) to MSI Reproductive Choices.
CitizenGo has condemned the British government for historically funding abortion services in disregard for public opinion.
“The latest polling revealed that 65 percent of British people objected to public money funding abortions overseas,” the activists said in a statement and complained that despite such mass disapproval, annual reports from MSI Reproductive Choices “show that the UK is one of the organization’s biggest donors. “
The activists condemned Western nations and NGOs for their “shameful history of abortion imperialism, pushing abortion on developing nations in recent years under the guise of so-called ‘essential’ healthcare.”
“At a time when the world is reeling from disease and war, such funding that serves only to destroy more innocent lives is wholly out of touch with public sentiment,” the statement further states.
“Britain must direct funds away from destroying innocent lives and families in these developing regions,” the petition states.
“This misuse of public money is especially egregious during a cost-of-living crisis at home, when millions of households are facing fuel poverty. £352 million is quite simply a disgusting use of public money and must be diverted to promote genuine health care and alleviate human suffering, not promote it,” it said.
The NGO dropped “Marie Stopes” from its name in 2020, reflecting a longstanding concern about its founder’s views on eugenics. Active in the early 20th century, Stopes was an enthusiastic supporter of efforts to curtail “racial darkness” through selective breeding and also backed compulsory sterilization for those she considered unfit for parenthood.