At Wednesday’s CNN-hosted Climate Crisis Town Hall, Senator Bernie Sanders was asked about overpopulation as a factor of climate change, and whether he would discuss “empowering women and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth.”
Sanders’s response was that there should not be a restriction on American efforts in working with institutions abroad that allow women to access birth control and abortions. He “very, very, strongly supports” providing women in poor countries access to birth control and abortion.
Now, reproductive rights have been a divisive subject for Americans since well before the Roe v. Wade decision. The campaign for abortion and other reproductive rights is somewhat difficult to disentangle from a history of patronizing people of color, cultural insensitivity, and even promoting racism through eugenics.
Decades prior, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, built an organization with the initial premise of allowing people to “have the children they want,” but then shifted her agenda into encouraging segregation and sterilization of the feeble, or “unfit” parents. Early on, Planned Parenthood routinely targeted the Black community, with Sanger’s focus being reducing the population of people she saw as undesirable. Though critics would say that Sanger’s injection of herself into Black families and communities was more patronizing than racist, her overstep was dangerously inconsiderate of the desires of the population she addressed.
While the organization has since evolved into a provider of lower-cost contraceptives and other basic sexual wellness services today, the Black community and many Americans haven’t forgotten Planned Parenthood’s sordid past.
Consider this historical synopsis by American Magazine by clicking here.
Additionally, the name Planned Parenthood is still synonymous with forced sterilization of women in some corridors, which also ties into the complicated history of America and forced sterilization itself (consider the early policies of North Carolina for example).
Now, ideas of ‘reproductive rights’ in the West and the availability and accessibility of them are generally not the same in Asian, African or Middle Eastern cultures. Additionally, concepts like “Intersectionality”–where multiple cultural identities are considered in facing a problem–in the West don’t translate in the East.
Policymakers in the West often try and fail to understand the vastly different Cultures, Religions, Races, Ethnicities–and the matrix of values therein–in their own countries, but even more so in others. So, typically when calls for birth control and abortion in other countries is brought up, it should be seen as Cultural Colonialism by Western lefties, in the same way that a gentrifier moving into Harlem may call the police on a drum circle because it offends them.
Without understanding the intersectionality of the population in another country, especially in poor countries that are constantly subjected to the influence richer countries, deciding that a group of people “need” certain reproductive rights is condescending and robs that group of a chance at self-determination. It eschews from acknowledging nuances in its cultural impact, especially in regards to religious communities.
The birth control/abortion discussion when advocated as a “right” in the East is mostly seen as an insult to the Religious purviews of the East from Orthodox Christianity to Catholicism to Islam.
Abortion, specifically, is an ethical dilemma and one that has been discussed for more than a century. Unfortunately, many advocates of abortion won’t try and understand the cultural, religious and ethnic differences of “third world” countries. They’re now acting as Cultural Colonizers whose “expertise” overrides the voices of native populations, much like the British Colonizers of the past–only this time they push an agenda that ignores the other or views them through a post-modern lens.
To put it simply–many developing nations see the push for American and EU style abortion policy as either offensive or as liberalism infringing upon their right to self-determination.
So when Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders says on National Television that abortion needs exported to “third world countries”, he’s calling for cultural warfare.
Democrat Voter: There are too many humans on earth.
Bernie: I agree. We need to fund abortions to poor, third world countries.
This is absolutely horrifying. pic.twitter.com/B2SBT053mz
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) September 5, 2019
Ignoring the precise needs of developing nations underscores a tone-deafness by Bernie Sanders to what the real issues are, and does so with an atrocious band-aid that doesn’t fit. Birth control and abortion are not the only ways of reducing family sizes and addressing overpopulation, which was the original problem stated.
So regardless of your position on abortion–whether pro-choice or pro-life–it’s a disgusting attitude and policy perspective to think that altering cultural and religious foundations towards abortion is the right way to go.
Years of studies have shown that increasing income opportunities and facilitating economic development in communities not only reduces family sizes, it doesn’t destroy the family fabric or take away from it in the process.
Take this Duke University paper from Brunnschweiler and Perente for example:
A true policy proposal would be one that springboards off of what exists already. Leverage improved relations by President Trump in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) to deploy tech transfer and education programs. Discuss contraception. Open the door to reproductive education. Help people develop economically and plan families.
To not even broach these ideas in a policy interview is simply lazy logic. With Bernie Sanders, it’s indicative that he not only isn’t capable of understanding the diversity of the world, but that perhaps he’s so stuck in a liberal bubble that he can’t see the need for diversity of thought and tolerance between the West and the East.
The Middle East is already reeling from European Politicians telling it how to change, with complete disregard to devout Christians, Jews and Muslims who live there. Change is coming, but these countries want to embrace modernity without losing who they are. To allow Sanders and his supporters to push a policy perspective of exporting Western models of reproductive rights without solving underlying economic issues–or understanding that different cultures value family differently–amounts to little more than cultural colonialism and the exporting of intolerance.