WASHINGTON, DC, December 6 (C-FAM) A human rights defender is accusing abortion activists of intimidating witnesses to cover up lethal side effects and unethical medical trials of a long-lasting contraceptive injected in women in Africa.
Just before a scheduled hearing this week in the U.S. Congress that could lead to policy change in U.S. international family planning programs, Rebecca Project executive director Imani Walker, succumbeing to pressure from Planned Parenthood, seized the computer from one of the key witnesses, Rebecca Project policy director Kwame Fosu, and sent emails to congressional staffers announcing he had been terminated, Fosu told the Friday Fax in an exclusive interview.
According to Fosu, Walker's actions were only the latest actions in the 3 years of attacks against him by “reproductive rights ideologues” since publishing reports exposing human rights abuses within family planning programs. Fosu is the author of Depo Provera: Deadly Violence Against Women.
Local doctors in Africa were paid monetary incentives to inject thousands of unsuspecting women in a trial partially funded by USAID and the Gates Foundation, Fosu said. The activists, along with big-money reproductive health donors, fear the disclosures will set back reproductive rights, he said.
The abuses – perpetrated by pharmaceutical companies, health providers and foundations – includes unethical experiments conducted on African women and the widespread use of the injectable contraceptive Depo Provera to millions of poor women of color, despite known lethal side effects documented by the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes Health.
“These are people like me who call ourselves progressives who are harming women because they want everyone to have one thought process – abortion,” Fosu explained, “eliminating pregnancy by any means necessary.”
Congressman William Lacy Clay, ranking member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told Fosu that his office had received several calls from Planned Parenthood in attempts to disparage Fosu. Planned Parenthood, the largest distributor of Depo Provera, receives millions in U.S. tax dollars to administer the drug in the U.S. and overseas. Clay held a briefing in September on officials misleading women, particularly in Africa, on medical complications associated with Depo Provera.
Fosu described the maelstrom that erupted within the reproductive rights community immediately after his first report was launched at a special panel sponsored by Congressman John Conyers in 2010.
In The Outsourcing of Tuskegee -Nonconsensual Research in Africa, Fosu details an unethical experiment conducted by Dr. James Phillips on behalf of The Population Council. A Johns Hopkins physician and Bill and Melinda Gates Fellow who had worked in Ghana contacted Fosu providing evidence that what was presented as routine healthcare by Dr. Phillips was in fact a medical trial for Pfizer Pharmaceutical’s Depo Provera, a long-lasting contraceptive.
Local doctors in the Navrongo region were paid monetary incentives in the form of stipends, consulting fees, and publishing opportunities in research journals for access to women. Some 9,000 were injected without their consent. The study was partially funded by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations and USAID.
Following the publication of The Outsourcing of Tuskegee, the Rebecca Project came under extreme pressure from reproductive health foundations, sexual and reproductive health activists and policy makers to withdraw the report. Fosu was cautioned by offices of two Democratic congressmen that his report could be detrimental to the reproductive rights movement and Republicans would use it to fight abortion.
When he refused to give in, Fosu said Edee (Malika) Saada Saar, then-executive director of the Rebecca Project, began working secretly with Shira Saperstein of the Moriah Fund and Planned Parenthood advocates. Saar’s failed attempt to discredit Fosu’s report led to her resignation and immediately following the Moriah Fund, and the Ford and Novo Foundations all pulled their funding – nearly $1 million. Several of Rebecca Project board members – Saar’s allies who are associated with media outlets and the Obama administration – resigned. Saar immediately found funding to start her own organization.
A revealing e-mail was obtained from the office of Representative John Conyers, an influential congressman on the US House Judiciary Committee. Shira Saperstein wrote to senior management at pro-abortion groups Planned Parenthood, CHANGE, Ibis, Guttmacher, and IPAS.
Fosu and others would “continue to tout the report, probably even more aggressively, although hopefully with less credibility and with rapidly dwindling funding.”
Fosu later discovered that while Saperstein was refuting the report findings that Depo Provera had lethal side effects, her group was simultaneously funding several groups who successfully restricted Depo Provera in Israel. The groups objected to the contraceptive injections being given to Ethiopian women because it “can cause serious physical and psychological side effects, and it is not recommended . . . except in exceptional circumstances.”
The Department of Justice should examine why Saperstein would support practices to protect black Jewish women in Israel from Depo Provera’s harm, Fosu said, yet at the same time be “aggressively promoting” it in black communities in the U.S. and Africa.
Fosu charges that the Gates Foundation, USAID, Planned Parenthood and Pfizer have full knowledge of scientific evidence that Depo Provera is a dangerous carcinogen, yet they “knowingly conceal it” and collaborate on its widespread distribution throughout sub-Sahara Africa.
Reproductive rights advocates are heavily investing in distributing Depo Provera to uneducated, poor women and girls. At a recent international Family Planning Conference in Ethiopia co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, studies authored by USAID, PATH and several reproductive rights policymakers were presented on how to expand delivery of Depo Provera in rural communities within less developed countries.
Efforts are underway to have rural “drug shops” or pharmacies distribute it. This loose system lets it be administered by someone other than a medical professional. Studies were also conducted in Senegal and Uganda on the trial of a new version Depo Provera, called sayana press, a self-inject delivery system developed by PATH from USAID funding. Both delivery systems could hinder women from receiving counseling on the many serious side effects as required by the Food and Drug Administration.
Reproductive rights advocates and policymakers have increased global funding for family planning to over $ 7 billion annually, largely directed to poor women and girls in developing countries. Fosu believes a eugenics ideology is driving wealthy foundations and government development programs to adopt unethical population control programs to prevent certain classes of people – those of color and poor – from reproducing.
Family planning and abortion are often presented as ways to reduce deaths from childbirth. Or, as Fosu observes, “They believe the only way to prevent maternal mortality is by removing births. This is completely false. They do not invest in anything that nurtures or heals women in Africa and in low income communities.”
Harvard University has recognized the Rebecca Project for its work defending the rights of women and children and created a special depository for their publications at the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard.
The Congressional hearing at which Fosu was set to testify was re-scheduled until January for unrelated reasons. Yesterday the Rebecca Project's board suspended Walkker and ruled her actions were unethical and without authority and deemed the “unapproved emails as malicious with the intent of derailing Rebecca Project's important work exposing unethical medical practices in Africa and Depo Provera's harm.”