By Jonathon Van Maren
Carmel Nisha Pius Franco has a passion: She wants the world to know about Indian babies who are being killed by abortion by their tens of millions, and she wants people everywhere to know that Western governments are funding the slaughter. She manages a pro-life organization in India called UYIRKKURAL (meaning the “voice of life”), which seeks to raise awareness about abortion, begin building a culture of life, and expose the truth about what is going on in India. “I guess this is pretty much my mission in life,” Franco told me in an e-mail, “To speak for the voiceless and to open my people’s eyes to the injustice they’ve been subjected to.”
Franco currently lives in the U.S., where she is also involved in pro-life work while she seeks to raise awareness about the massive amount of foreign funding that goes towards “population control” in India. (She often sidewalk counsels outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in New Jersey.) She contacted me after reading some of my recent columns detailing pro-life events from around the world to ask me if I knew much about what was going on in India. The following is an extensive interview with Carmel Nisha Pius Franco—I hope you will find it as enlightening as I did.
What is the status quo regarding abortion in India?
The present Health Ministry backed by some powerful national and international organizations have proposed an amendment to extend the legal abortion limit from 20 to 24 weeks and also to expand the abortion provider base by letting non-medical practitioners to dispense chemical abortion pills. Organizations like IPAS, DKT Intl, Population Services Intl, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Marie Stopes, Jhpiego are behind such dangerous and life-threatening efforts. Last year the bill reached the Prime Minister’s office and was disapproved and sent back for further changes after the spine chilling ‘Sangili incident’ in Maharashtra came to light. An illegal abortion racket was caught through an undercover operation and was found to be feeding the aborted babies to their dogs after dumping some of them in the well inside the premises.
Illegal abortion is still a major concern in India even after 24 years of PCPNDT (Pre-conception Pre-natal Diagnostics test) Act and one of the main reasons why India is not a safe place for a woman. The availability of abortion pills [on the] black market is one of the main reasons for illegal sex selective abortion. The easy access of abortion pills makes it convenient for pedophiles, abusers and rapists to devour women and children or even families that force the mother to abort in cases of sex selection. DIY abortions has increased like an epidemic.
India is not a safe place for people with disabilities either. In fact, the PCPNDT Act, which sounds ‘pro-woman,’ is actually a eugenic law. It legitimizes screening and elimination of pre-born children with disabilities in the womb. Abortion enthusiasts are fighting for complete elimination of people with disabilities calling for amendment to abortion law that will allow abortion past 20 weeks in case down syndrome, heart anomalies and other disabilities.
India has been a hot spot for abortion providers since 1930s, when Margaret Sanger came to India to set up birth control clinics and returned to Mumbai again in 1950s to establish IPPF with Dhanavanthi Rama Rau. The total market for abortion pills alone in India is around Rs. 400 crore (4,00,00,00,000 INR is equal to half a billion US dollars).
How many abortions have taken place so far?
At least 300 million babies must have been killed since 1971. This is an underestimate. Until 2017 there was no proper data on the total number of abortions performed in India. The report published in Lancet Medical Journal estimated that 15.6 million abortions were performed in 2015. Prior to this data the government has been reporting that an average of 700,000 abortions were performed in India since 2000 but the government data did not include abortions done outside government facility using pills like RU486 or abortions performed in private hospitals. Based on several studies like Chhabra and Nuna (1994), Abortion Assessment Project of India (2002), UNICEF’s report (1996), medical abortion pill sales data available, estimates of illegal sex selective abortion and the recent Lancet Medical Journal study one can say for sure that at least 300 million abortion must have taken place so far.
Who typically gets abortions in India?
We do not have data to answer this question. However, an increase in teenage pregnancy is identified by health professionals in general since 2010. Abortion is also widely used as a ‘birth control’ by both married as well as unmarried women and also in case of committing feticide where ‘son preference’ is high.
What is the government’s role in this, and what is the current legal status quo?
As of now abortion is legal in India up to 20 weeks practically for any reason, including contraceptive failure and poverty. Abortion was legalized in India even before it was legal in Canada or United States. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy act was enacted on August 10, 1971. You could get an abortion for free or low cost at government run hospitals and easily get an abortion pill without prescription. There’s an organized effort to liberalize abortion in India at present. The tactics used by the organizations behind this effort is similar to those used by Planned Parenthood in US–to abuse the cases of rape and sexual exploitation and generalize it to make abortion on demand, influence law makers, set up clinics in slums and get school dropout kids to be peer educators and expand abortion market. Recently IPPF’s Director General Dr. Bermejo met the Vice President of India to lobby for liberalizing abortion and sex education in the country.
Also the government has long been taken over by abortion promoters and has a history of being heavily influenced by promoters of Eugenics. It’s impossible to understand abortion movement in India without connection to Eugenics movement neatly covered by sympathetic promoters of population control. Our first Prime Minister Nehru was an admirer of Sanger and belongs to the close-knit upper caste community of Kashmiri Brahmins like Dhanavanthi Rama Rau herself. The role played by Nehru, Rama Rau, Chandra Sekhar – Minister of Parliament who was member of British Eugenics Society in making abortion and birth control as center of developmental programs in post-independence India is crucial in knowing how this nation has turned to be a slaughterhouse of millions of pre-born Indians at present.
Government is pro-abortion. Both the opposition and the one in power right now. Groups backed up by present government in power is fighting for two child policy often quoting that non-Hindu populations have increased in India and their numbers need to be kept under control. In fact it was Health Ministry under the leadership of Minister Jaggat Prakash Nadda which called for extending the legal abortion limit to 24 weeks.
The amount of money involved in this sector is unprecedented, and corruption in the government made it convenient for international organizations to buy Indian politicians into implementing policies that will fit their ideology. Let me give an example. In 2016 USAID spent $24 million in ‘Reproductive health’ $6 million for ‘family planning’, and $2.4 million in population policy in India. This is much less compared to what’s spent on general health or even HIV/AIDS. The money is dispersed through organizations like IPPF). Will politicians say ‘no’ to such a huge amount of money? Well, if they did, India wouldn’t be in the present situation.
What is the Indian pro-life movement like?
To be honest even the word “pro-life” is not colloquial except for few in Christian communities. But Indians are naturally ‘prolife’. Even Hinduism, followed by the majority views ‘abortion’ as it is–murder. The sacred books of Hinduism oppose abortion and believe life begins at conception. You’ll see Jains marching against abortion in India as opposed to the usual scenario where the response is mostly from Christians. But this is not enough. It’s simply not enough when you look at the number of children killed. Every two seconds a child is killed by abortion in India, yet we do not have any active pro-life movement like in the West–sidewalk counseling, crisis pregnancy centers, March for Life, Day of remembrance of unborn, Red Rose Rescue, New Wave Feminists, 40 Days for Life, etc.
India badly needs to do something about it. It’s simply not enough if Catholics promote the message among their own dioceses or Jains promote it in their own community. The message has to become mainstream–in colleges, in movies, in politics, and most importantly in streets and in front of abortion clinics. Sixteen million children killed a year, and we do not have crisis pregnancy centers, which is quite shameful. At least we need centers that will be a point of contact for various networks that will offer life affirming choices.
Many people do not want to be outwardly prolife because they’re afraid of being put to shame by the “overpopulation” argument. Somehow through decades of family planning campaign we were made to feel guilty and ashamed of our numbers. And though the fertility rates have decreased from 6 to 2.2, people still don’t realize we’re not growing anymore and also abortion cannot be justified in case of overpopulation.
People need to realize that this is simply not one of the few ‘social issues’ but a struggle of a different kind, it is life or death issue. This is about the ‘fundamental’ human right. And everyone SHOULD come together to change the culture.
How do pro-lifers push back against the Culture of Death in India?
Amazing individuals are doing their best in promoting the truth about Sanctity of Life. Some organizations work among young people to spread awareness, some organizations maintain a confidential well-knit network that will help mothers in crisis pregnancy through reference. The state of Kerala has a vibrant pro-life community who have been doing an amazing job for a long time. They fight materialism and two-child norm of the country and go for large families which is totally justifiable considering the dangerously low fertility replacement level of their state. Kerala also has a pro-0life doctor’s network who help people in difficult situations.
What are some encouraging signs you’ve seen recently?
For the first time this year on the 47th anniversary of legal abortion in India the Catholic Church in several states around the country observed the day with Mass and prayer. This is an encouraging sign since August 10th goes by as if it’s just another day and many do not remember this day. People have come to realize that remembering the day and observing it is not only to recognize the unjust murder of these innocent children but also an opportunity to pray, act and do something about this injustice. More young people have started to talk about it and express their passion and need to do something. People are coming together to help women deal with unplanned pregnancy and trying their best to be confidential and non-judgmental. This is a huge change and a sign of hope.
What should people know about what is going on in India?
- People of good will around the world should know about the ‘abortion epidemic’ of India. On an average of 10 million abortion per year is performed in India. Though it is 16 million (2015) according to Lancet. The number is huge.
- There is “one child norm” in India. You can see vehicles carrying the ‘one child per family’ message around the city. There is a push for national level two-child policy. Recently 125 MPs signed a petition to President to bring two-child policy in effect. The two-child policy would be an absurdity considering the present fertility levels and fertility transition in next couple of decades.
- India’s population is not “growing” anymore. What was aimed at in NSSM 200 (National Security Study Memorandum) has been achieved I would say because, more than 24 states have gone below replacement fertility level.
- People need to know that massive amount of funds are invested in killing children and the most vulnerable in India, like in Africa and the South American Countries. They justify this under the banner of “population control,” “family planning” and “women’s rights”. Our women did not ask for abortion in the first place. They did not ask nor demand or fight for it. They wanted food, to be able to go to school, protection from superstitious beliefs and practices, equality. Our women wanted dignity most of all. But no matter what they asked for, they received only IUD, sterilization and abortion.
- There are targets for IUD insertions and sterilizations and overall family planning program in India. You can imagine how poor people will be exploited. No, they’re never given a ‘choice’.
- Also, the concept of “conscientious objector” is not known in India, which means your tax payer money is also used to force medical professionals and other healthcare professionals to “kill” rather than heal. This is violation of religious rights. Doctors have to risk losing their government jobs if they do not agree to perform abortions.
We stood by and watched as China boasted about killing 300 million, saving the environment through its notorious One Child Policy. Please, let’s not allow that to happen to India or for that matter any country. Tax payers in Canada, USA, and UK etc. can stop this atrocity. You can do this by monitoring how the foreign aid from your country is spent. Demand your government to stop funding fetal assassination and human rights abuses abroad. China and India are two biggest nations in the world. What happens in these countries has an impact on the world not only because of the numbers but also because it spreads as an “infection.” Like sex selective abortion being exported from Asia to UK, USA and Australia. Like your tax money being spent on the elimination of poor and vulnerable around the world. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” But most importantly you reap what you sow.
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