New documentary exposes how foreign aid is actually hurting African women

By Crossmap

Several years ago, my wife and I spent some time in Africa on our honeymoon. One night after she’d gone to sleep in the tent, our safari guide and I stayed up chatting. He was about my age and was telling me what it was like growing up in Tanzania and about his wife and children. He asked what I did “for a job,” and I explained that I worked in the pro-life movement. 

I still remember the stunned look on his face when I explained that in Canada, abortion was not only legal, but legal until birth. 

“This would never happen here,” he told me, shaking his head sadly.

It was that conversation I thought back to as I watched Obianuju Ekeocha’s new documentary, Strings Attached

Ekeocha is a Nigerian-born pro-life activist and founder of Culture of Life Africa, and her journey into the pro-life movement is an interesting one. While working as a biomedical scientist in the United Kingdom, she saw Melinda Gates on television, talking about the desperate need for birth control in Africa. Insulted, Ekocha wrote an open letter to Melinda Gates, explaining that contraception is not what African women are asking for. It went viral, and a pro-life champion was born.

Strings Attached is the documentary version of her 2018 book Target Africa: Ideological Neocolonialism in the Twenty-First Century, a damning look at Western meddling in Africa. She begins by pointing out that the Mexico City Policy—referred to by opponents as the Global Gag Rule, which ensures that American foreign aid cash cannot be used for abortion—is not only supported by 83% of American taxpayers, but is also supported by 70% of pro-choice and Democrat voters. The same is true in the UK, where 65% of British voters disagree with funding abortion overseas. Despite this, nations like Canada and the Netherlands are giving millions of dollars to a Global Abortion Fund to make up the shortfall caused by Trump’s withdrawal of cash.

Ekeocha’s documentary exposes a number of staggering facts. Despite Western pretensions of having Africa’s best interests in mind, for example, it very much appears as if limiting the number of Africans is high on the EU and UN priority list. The 2014 Report for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which tracks foreign aid, found that African countries received more money for so-called population programmes than they received for education, healthcare, and water sanitation. 

Ekeocha’s outrage is justified: In what universe, she wants to know, do Africans need IUDs and abortion more than clean water and reliable medicine? 

The international abortion-peddler Marie Stopes, meanwhile, is making a killing. Named for a notorious eugenicist (much like Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger), Marie Stopes is operating in 37 developing countries despite a track record of botched butchery. One report found 2,600 instances of concern, and there were 373 botched abortions at clinics in the UK in only two months, with women being rushed to the hospital for surgery and blood transfusions. Ekeocha asks a cutting question: If Stopes has a record this terrible in countries where they are regulated, how bad are they in countries where they are unregulated?

She spends much of Strings Attached answering that question. A secret video recording reveals Paul Cornelissen, the regional director for South Africa of Marie Stopes International, stating in a meeting to chuckles from the audience that “We do illegal abortions all over the world.” Multiple calls made to various Marie Stopes clinics throughout Africa revealed that most were willing to refer women to abortionists, and some were willing to actually perform them. Marie Stopes is a prominent recipient of cash from countries like Canada, and when Canadian MP Garnett Genuis asked Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland if she was confident that Marie Stopes was not breaking the law in the countries where it operates, she refused to answer and instead went on a tirade about Liberal support for abortion.