Pregnant women in Texas are dying. They are dying at quadruple the rate that they were fifteen years ago. They are dying at the same rate as women in Somalia.
They are dying because a US-based coalition called the World Congress of ‘Families’ (WCF) successfully campaigned, along with far right-wing politicians, for policies that blocked women’s access to everything from basic check-ups, to contraception, to breast cancer screenings to safe abortion.
In Kenya, where pregnancy kills more women and girls than cancer, conflict, hunger and malaria combined, the World Congress of Families has funded and organised opposition to a law permitting abortion when the mother’s life is threatened. It has aggressively fought local women who are campaigning for their rights. It has done the same in Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, and, this month, Ireland – where WCF director Larry Jacobs campaigned for abortion to be denied to a suicidal teenage rape victim.
Women aren’t the only targets of WCF hate. From Russia, to Nigeria, to Uganda, to Eastern Europe, LGBTQ people have been criminalised, beaten, murdered. All with funding and backing from the WCF – they have held hundreds of conferences worldwide, drafted laws, and funded and promoted the pastors and politicians who agree to push their anti-gay, anti-choice laws.
In a report released just this week, the Human Rights Campaign wrote that, “the WCF’s role in the export of hate cannot be overstated.”
The WCF sounds too extreme for Australians to be worried about. But they’re being officially welcomed by Federal and State Ministers. Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews, who the WCF have officially recognised as their “Natural Family Man of the Year”, plans to open the conference. Parliamentarians Bernie Finn, Fred Nile, Jan Kronberg and Cory Bernardi, along with Victoria’s Attorney-General Robert Clark, are also slated to attend. Minister for Employment Eric Abetz was originally speaking but has just pulled out.
This week, on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th of August, the WCF are coming to Parliament House in Canberra – holding a meeting about fighting marriage equality, and catching up with Ministers like Abetz and Andrews.
This will be followed by a nationwide tour of WCF-supported speakers, with a focus on goals such as dismantling Victoria’s Abortion Law Reform Act, and on spreading misinformation claiming that breast cancer is caused by abortion, and that the pill makes women engage in incest. Speakers such as Molly White – a Tea Party endorsed Republican – are being brought to Australia. White heads an anti-choice NGO that works with the WCF to push extreme anti-choice laws globally.
But on Thursday, a group of us – members of “Vocal Majority”, a grassroots women and LGBT rights group – will stand against hate. While they hold their secret anti-gay, anti-women briefing, we will be outside Parliament house with a big and beautiful family album, showing just how diverse Australian families are.