Proposed U.S. Legislation Seeks to Save Lives by Preventing Them

By | September 29, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29 (C-Fam) A bill before the U.S. Senate enjoys broad bi-partisan support due to its ambition to save sixteen million lives. Critics argue that many of the lives “saved” would never exist, and that the law would funnel billions into abortion groups rather than into life-saving health care.

The seemingly uncontroversial text belies misleading measurements designed to justify funds for family planning groups, many of which promote abortion, the opponents say.

The 2017 Reach Every Mother And Child Act (REACH Act) aims to consolidate existing U.S. maternal and child health efforts into a unifying framework, based on a 2014 USAID report titled “Acting On the Call.”  According to a fact sheet, this bill’s purpose is to enact “reforms that hold USAID accountable for a smarter and more effective approach to saving more lives.”

According to “Acting On the Call,” a third of the fifteen million child lives to be saved by 2020 would be saved “from demographic impact.”  This is defined as the reduction of child deaths through the decrease in children born.  Other publications have referred to child “deaths averted” due to contraceptives, but typically separate them from “lives saved” due to the absence of a survivor.  By lumping these categories together as “lives saved,” USAID is proposing nonexistence as a health intervention alongside vaccines, improved nutrition, and treatments for malaria and diarrhea, which are leading killers of children under five.

The 2017 version of the REACH Act does not directly refer to “Acting On The Call,” but it mention “the goal to save 15,000,000 children’s lives and 600,000 women’s lives by 2020,” which comes directly from that report.

Arguing that it does not require any additional Congressional funding, supporters claim it would reduce duplication of effort and ensure that the most effective interventions are prioritized to save lives.

The redefinition of “lives saved” ensures that contraceptives will inevitably be defined as one of the most cost-effective lifesaving tools, justifying further USAID funding to family planning groups that are frequently proponents of abortion.

A very low percentage of women in developing countries, including USAID’s target countries, claim lack of access to family planning. Family planning organizations’ goal to add new users is far greater than their would-be-clients’ intention to become users.  But even if American-led efforts managed to drive up contraceptive prevalence in target countries, the vast majority of children not born would otherwise have survived past their fifth birthdays.  USAID’s calculation of “child lives saved from demographic impact” focuses on the minority who are predicted to die in infancy or early childhood while ignoring their counterparts who would presumably survive.

Experts point out that many of the interventions included in “Acting On The Call” are life saving and could reduce preventable deaths in countries with poverty and insufficient health care.  But they argue that these things could be scaled up without forcing all maternal and child programming to treat pregnancy and infancy as complications, rather than treating the complications of pregnancy and infancy.