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Pro-life leaders criticize Catholic Relief Services over anti-malaria grant to family-planning provider

Catholic World News - July 22, 2013

The leaders of the American Life League, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Human Life International, and the Population Research Institute have strongly criticized Catholic Relief Services for making a $2.8-million anti-malaria grant to Population Services International (PSI), an organization that promotes contraception and “safe abortion” in the developing world.

PSI’s “primary mission has always been to promote contraception, abortifacient drugs, condoms, and even surgical abortion,” said Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International. “Like many other population control groups in the mid-1990s, they started to rebrand their mission as being about 'health', using more positive language and adding malaria-prevention programs to their portfolio. But this should not confuse anyone as to their purpose.”

“They use the bait of health care or the bait of some form of aid to seduce women into coming into their clinics and availing themselves of their services, so they can be used as bribes, they can be used as sanctions,” added Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, who described PSI as “first, last, and always a population control group.”

“In over 30 countries throughout the world PSI empowers women and couples to lead healthier lives by providing access to innovative family planning and maternal health products and services,” the organization notes on its website, adding:

Over the past three decades, PSI has expanded the contraceptive methods in its portfolio from male condoms and oral contraceptives to include injectable contraceptives, intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUD), emergency contraception pills, implants, female condoms, voluntary sterilization, and fertility awareness methods such as the Standard Days Method using Cyclebeads®.

In Cambodia, for example, PSI’s website notes that

PSI/Cambodia was established in 1993 when it launched the social marketing campaign for Number One condoms, which supported the Government of Cambodia’s (GoC) 100% Condom Use Program. As a key partner of the GoC, PSI Cambodia’s current portfolio focuses on family planning, reproductive health, malaria prevention and treatment, child survival and HIV/AIDS.

In 2011, PSI’s magazine featured an article by the former director-general of International Planned Parenthood criticizing the Catholic Church and other “conservative religious and political forces.”

With regard to Guinea, the West African nation where Catholic Relief Services made its $2.789-million grant to the organization, PSI’s website states that

PSI/Guinea was established in 1991 with the goal of improving reproductive health and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS through social marketing. Since then, PSI/Guinea has expanded its portfolio to include programs in malaria, safe water, diarrheal treatment, and female genital cutting … PSI/Guinea’s programming ensures the availability and utilization of condoms, oral rehydration salts with zinc (ORS+Zinc), safe water solutions, and hormonal contraceptives, which have improved public health in Guinea over the past two decades.

“PSI’s range of programs includes family planning – which CRS does not support or agree with,” said Jim Stipe, digital and visual media communications officer at Catholic Relief Services. “In Guinea, CRS is working with PSI to fight malaria, a leading cause of death among pregnant women and children under 5 in the country.”

“PSI will train and oversee community health workers to educate households on malaria prevention, and work with community organizations to hold anti-malaria themed events,” he added. “In Guinea, CRS did not choose PSI for this work. Rather, the Global Fund, which provided the money for the malaria project, chose PSI.”

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is funded largely by the United States, European governments, and Japan.

“The contract with PSI is very clear that the money is non-fungible – that means it cannot be shifted to other PSI programs or expenses,” Stipes continued. “Some will say that all money is fungible, but that is not true. There are very tight controls over the money to ensure it only goes toward the malaria program in Guinea.”

“We had a choice: we could either accept funding from the Global Fund and save potentially thousands of people’s lives, knowing that the money could in no way go to PSI’s family planning activities, or we could walk away and turn our backs on thousands of people who may die from malaria, the number one public health problem in Guinea,” Stipes added. “We decided that saving children’s lives was more important than possible criticism. We believe we made the right choice.”

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  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 22, 2013 6:10 PM ET USA

    The fact that CRS funds organizations like PSI with donations from the faithful shows the poor judgement of USCCB. And, the fact that CRS serves a funding conduit to organizations like PSI is just as bad. But, the fact that CRS enters into legal agreements with organizations like PSI regarding the fungibility of funding supplied shows that CRS knows that the funding of such organizations is wrong. CRS just is seeking political "cover" for its actions in order to respond to expected criticism.

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