Dear Mr. President,
Today I read about the impending G8 discussion of global access to abortion services. While the Canadian PM has tacitly made his opposition to this clear, there is hope that the US will come out forcefully in support of safe and legal access to contraception and abortion as a global woman's right. I'm not so hopeful; I think that, for all of your administration's talk about the importance of education and equal rights for women and girls, the health care debate clearly demonstrated that reproductive rights are not enough of a priority to warrant any real political risks. This depressing thought reminded me of a news story I'd read several months back, about a nun in Arizona. Sister Margaret McBride, the administrator of St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix, approved an abortion for a patient who would have died without terminating her pregnancy. Sister McBride was excommunicated for this, and condemned by many anti-choice organizations.
What struck me about this story is the obvious disdain the church has for the woman's life, and also the contrast in their reaction to this Nun's actions and those of the countless Priests accused of child molestation. This same hypocrisy is apparent in the Helms amendment, and, domestically, the demands that insurance plans covering abortion use no federal funds. Taxpayers fund death and torture and extrajudicial incarceration in Afghanistan every day, but the idea that an organization allowing Afghan women to make their own reproductive decisions would get a dime of American money is too controversial? Surely, if we can declare access to education essential, we can also fight for every woman's right to control her own body, as a woman's health is essential to her participation in society. The US should lead by example, repeal the Helms amendement and campaign strongly for the right to choose for every woman, no matter where she lives. I hope that the G8 will provide an opportunity to demonstrate courageous leadership on this issue, even in the face of controversy.