Sunday, May 25, 2008

Applying the Right Answers at the Right Time

Michelle Malkin's site has people enflamed because (gasp) the UNFPA provides contraceptives in disaster relief efforts.

While I think the family planning ideology in the United States often goes overboard, I have to side with the United Nations Population Fund on this one.

There is almost always a population boom following a disaster. When a family that just lost everything has a child, you can pretty much guess that the child was unplanned. Irrational forces are at work when people have babies at times when their ability to care for the child is in doubt.

In many cases, the post disaster population boom magnifies the hardships of the crisis. For example a high birth rate in refuge camps will hamper efforts to feed and relocate the refuges. The message to the people in a refuge camp is to get strong and prepare for relocation. Now is not the time for having children. Here are ways to not have children ...

Population booms often feed cycles of war. Wars often follow a 20 year cycle where the children born during the last war ride off to avenge their fathers!

Intervening in a post disaster population boom makes sense. In times of turmoil, people make irrational decisions involving children. A very strong message for family planning (by promoting abstinence, contraception or both) is in order. The message is that people should recover from the disaster before adding new family members.

Disaster relief is not not the time for a culture war. The goal is to get people back on stable track after which they will make their life choices. The right and left need to work together to find ways to encourage people not to have children until they are in a stable environment.

Both the arguments and technology employed during a time of crisis should be different from times of stability. While I would be morally outraged about a group distributing contraceptions to American high school students, I would not be troubled by the same efforts to people who are in a state of turmoil after a disaster or war.

Several of the comments on Michelle Malkin's blog claimed the reason the UN was giving out contraception was so the peacekeeping forces could rape the women.

Such comments are an example of completely unfounded, unprincipled speculation.

The allegation that UN Peacekeepers engage in mass rape is similar to unfounded allegations made against US soldiers. Both the US Army and UN Peacekeeping forces have law enforcement elements that aggressively punish soldiers for misconduct.

I know this allegation is false because there are better explanations for UNFPA's efforts: The better explanation is that, during past disaster relief programs, people have identified a need for handling family planning questions during the relief effort.

The other reason I don't think the contraceptive are given so UN Peacekeepers can rape the disaster victims is that the contraceptions were given by UNFPA and not by the Peacekeeper army. If the army was planning on mass rape, the army would be doing the preparations.

Instead of this blanket criticism of the United Nations Population Fund, the right would do better to participate in the effort to help promote moral methods of family planning.

People can have their culture war battles in the planning stage for disaster relief. The arguments made in the planning stage should be driven by past experience of the needs of people involved in the disaster and supported by fact.

Label: United Nations.

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