Proponents of the cut-off are not misogynists. They are honestly outraged by forced abortions in China. But why take it out on the most impoverished and voiceless people on earth? Mr. McCain seems to have supported Mr. Bush, mostly out of instinct, and when a reporter asked him this spring whether American aid should finance contraceptives to fight AIDS in Africa, he initially said, “I haven’t thought about it,” and later added, “You’ve stumped me.”
Retrograde decisions on reproductive health are reached in conference rooms in Washington, but I’ve seen how they play out in African villages. A young woman lies in a hut, bleeding to death or swollen by infection, as untrained midwives offer her water or herbs. Her husband and children wait anxiously outside the hut, their faces frozen and perspiring as her groans weaken.
When she dies, her body is bundled in an old blanket and buried in a shallow hole, with brush piled on top to keep wild animals away. Her children sob and shriek and in the ensuing months they often endure neglect and are far more likely to die of hunger or disease.
In some parts of Africa, a woman now has a 1-in-10 risk of dying in childbirth. The idea that U.S. policy may increase that toll is infuriating.