“I will lead our nation towards a culture that values life, the life of the elderly and sick, the life of the young and the life of the unborn”, says George W. Bush at the Republican Convention in 2000. On his first day as President of the United States of America, Bush confirmed this statement by withdrawing all funds from organisations working in developing countries dealing directly or indirectly with abortion.
In a countryside clinic in Ethiopia, Manyahilusal is injected with a contraceptive. She has six children and can not afford to have more. In Ethiopia, organisations providing contraception and sex education are under pressure. The countryside clinic serving Manyahilushal does not perform abortions, but because its organisation supports legalizing the procedure, America has withdrawn funding. As in many developing countries, abortion is illegal in Ethiopia. Ethiopian women with unwanted pregnancies are often forced to seek out abortion services in unsafe conditions. As a consequence, an estimated 60,000 or more women die each year worldwide.
In the United States abortion has been recognized by the Supreme Court as a constitutional right. According to Frances Kissling of the lobby group Catholics for a Free Choice, “Bush owes a great deal to the conservative religionists for having won his election, for being president. He now has to pay them back”. Because the fight against abortion in the United States is difficult, Kissling believes developing countries are an easy target.
“I don’t believe that God will give somebody three children if they can’t handle three children”, says Bryan Kemper, director of Rock for Life who believes abortion equals murder. With a group of teenagers, Kemper travels through the US to spread his pro-life or anti-abortion message. According to Kissling, the new American policy does not prevent abortions in developing countries. On the contrary, she believes the policy blocks much needed sex education and contraceptive distribution, leading to more unwanted pregnancy and an increase in illegal abortion.
The Other American War is a documentary about an ideological battle in the US and its unlikely victims, women in developing countries.