h/t to whoever linked the article from The Nation wherever you linked it (I thought the link was in the comments section of my Jeff Sharlet diary, but apparently not), because it shows that the anti-choice, religious right is just as eager to restrict abortion as it is to drive LGBT people underground. In sum, the American religious right that Sharlet wrote about in The Family is trying to remake Russia in the image of Uganda and Nigeria, and I suppose we should be happy that Russia didn't pass a "Kill the Gays" law too.
I offered this to the This Week in the War on Women crew, who provided a link to the article on Sunday. For more about what it says about who's behind this and how pernicious the whole project is, follow me below the Great Orange Cradle.
So, forthwith, an analysis and contextualization of How US Evangelicals Fueled the Rise of Russia’s ‘Pro-Family’ Right . Here's how the author, Adam Federman, explains the process:
The anti-gay measure is the product of a growing conservative movement in Russia spearheaded by the Orthodox Church and sympathetic lawmakers. Its goals are not only to criminalize homosexuality, but to limit access to abortion and reproductive healthcare and to aggressively promote the “traditional family” through state subsidies and other benefits. In 2011, the parliament passed a law restricting abortion access that pro-choice activists regard as the first volley in an effort to ban the procedure altogether. Clinics were required to list the potential negative side effects of an abortion—like the warning on a pack of cigarettes—in any advertisements. More recently, a bill was passed prohibiting doctors’ offices or health clinics from advertising that they perform abortions at all. Yelena Mizulina, head of the Duma’s Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs, which has formulated much of the new legislation, has said her primary task in the upcoming session will be to further restrict access to abortion and limit the availability of emergency contraception. Meanwhile, numerous think tanks, advocacy groups and charitable organizations with close ties to the Kremlin have taken up the cause.We are reminded that localities like St. Petersburg and Novisibirsk passed their own anti-gay laws before the nation did anything. We are also reminded that the opposition to these laws proves to Vladimir Putin and many Russians that the West is trying to undermine Russian sovereignty by supporting pro-gay and women's groups, and that's why they passed a law requiring NGOs that are funded by contributions from foreign countries to register as "foreign agents."
Of course, foreign organzations are WELCOME to support laws that are anti gay and anti-women. Here are some of the usual suspects:
Scott Lively, an extreme anti-gay campaigner, all but took credit for the new [homosexual propaganda] law, calling it “one of the proudest achievements of my career,” while Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, visited Moscow with much fanfare just before the new law was passed.And that's not all:
Referring to the anti-abortion bill passed in 2011, Lyubov Erofeeva, executive director of the Russian Association for Population and Development, a women’s advocacy group, said: “It was 100 percent clear that everything was copied from the experience of American fundamentalists and conservative circles of several European countries where abortion is forbidden or restricted severely.”Voila. Russia, meet Kansas.
Who can we blame for this? The Russian Orthodox Church, which used to be wary of evangelicals who they thought might try to undermine their influence, now sees them as allies. Hilarion Alfeyev, a bishop who is in charge of the Department of External Church Relations, has met with American evangelicals in Washington D.C and in Dallas, and the Dallas visit was arranged by an American oil baron (incidentally, a major donor to Koch-related causes) who had business interests in Russia. Alfeyev has also tapped into the coffers of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which, among other Russian institutions, supports
the “Day of the Family,” a recently created Russian holiday honoring faith and fidelity. The annual event has been championed by Svetlana Medvedeva, wife of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, a staunch anti-abortion advocate.I'm honestly tempted to embed a video of Cher singing "Turn Back Time" here.
“We want to promote the idea of the unity between the West and Russia on the basis of common Christian roots,” [Leonid] Sevastianov[, an international business and public relations consultant] told Inside the Vatican magazine in 2009. “We believe in this alliance among traditional Christian countries…and we believe that, with a united voice, we can be a strong force against the radical secular world which has become dominant in our societies.”
And all this corresponds with the Russian Orthodox Church's attempt to widen its reach into secular areas of society. Russia, meet Alabama. It is thus that Russia has emerged at the forefront of the international "pro family" movement. Hence the anti-abortion laws aided along by Concerned Women for America. And so we meet Alexey Komov, the 41-year old doctoral candidate leader of the effort to create a network of pro-family activists, and we learn the history of family planning and reproductive services in Russia. It turns out that the pill, which received acceptance in the United States during the 1960s, was never available in Soviet Russia, which meant abortions became a default form of contraception. Aside from the Soviet=bad issues, the collapse of the ruble in 1998 meant a decline in family planning clinics from more than 400 in 1998 to twenty one in 2012.
Worse yet, the committee entrusted with overhauling the nation's healthcare system didn't include any medical doctors. What am I reminded of here? Remember the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887, Indian removal by another name? No natives were involved in the discussion of that either. As I wrote then:
As if Congress decided that CPAC was a more appropriate venue to discuss DOMA and ENDA than Congress itself.Anyhow, no doctors meant, as Lyubov Erofeeva put it:
"[The committee] worked for nine or ten months and prepared the new law, which of course was not called the ‘anti-abortion law’—it was called ‘In the interests of the unborn child.’… So they were playing this card that in Russia there are so many abortions and the birthrate is very low and we’re killing our unborn babies.”Race suicide, they call it. From Minnesota Public Radio:
President Theodore Roosevelt warned in 1903 that immigrants and minorities were too fertile, and that Anglo-Saxons risked committing "race suicide" by using birth control and failing to keep up baby-for-baby.This isn't about minorities in Russia, unless you mean sexual minorities.
So now Russia has a restrictive abortion law. Not as restrictive as the Russian Orthodox Church would like. But the World Council on Families will have another conference in Moscow -- "Every Child a Gift: Large Families -- The Future of Humanity" in September 2014. And an American banker in Moscow (with ties to the ROC) sees this alliance between American evangelicals and the Russian Orthodox church as a BRIGHT spot in American-Russian relations. I used to think that George Herbert Walker Bush had absolutely squandered an opportunity with the fall of the Soviet Union to give Russia the Marshall Plan dollars it refused at the end of World War II and manage it into a capitalistic economy. Now, I wonder if this was maybe intentional beyond a belief in laissez-faire economics. I honestly don't know what to expect from a Russia dominated by a fearful leader and an aggressive Russian Orthodox Church, but it's clear that the anti-gay, anti-women initiatives will be with us until something changes, and I fear it will get worse before it gets better. Driven by American evangelicals. Feh!