Wednesday, January 30, 2013

News the HP Doesn't Follow Up: Ethiopian Women

Now that their damage has been done, Ha'aretz has published an article clarifying exactly what happened with the Ethiopian women and the birth control. Here is a sampling:

"What the original television program uncovered is an insensitivity to a traditional culture and imposing Western norms in what likely began as a well-meaning attempt to help families make an easier adjustment to the shock that was ahead of them when they moved to Israel and once they arrived. The stories women told painted a picture of being coaxed and strongly convinced that they should subject themselves to a Depo-Provera birth control shot every three months, without being offered other methods of family planning. They also recounted being told in educational workshops that Israelis had “small families” and that having many children in Israel would “make their life difficult.” Some said they were led to believe they would not be permitted to emigrate if they did not submit to the shots, others said that their objections to receiving them were ignored. Some women said they weren’t aware the shots were birth control - they thought they were vaccinations, and others said their complaints about disturbing side effects were ignored.
 "The most hostile coverage refers inaccurately to “sterilization” - conveniently ignoring the fact that Depo-Provera is a three-month birth control injection, for which women must voluntarily go to a clinic to receive the shots. It is insulting to the intelligence of Ethiopian women to believe that they did this for years at a time against their will. Certainly, if there was a nefarious plot to stop them from having babies, there would have been a more efficient way to do it.
"I believe the women who told their stories to Gal Gabbai. I also believe that the vast majority of the Ethiopian women who received Depo-Provera were aware it was birth control and received it willingly, wanting to be in control of deciding when to get pregnant. And some of them - it is unclear how many - preferred being injected at a clinic rather than having to take pills daily in the presence of other family members - husbands or mothers or in-laws - who might disapprove of that decision. I also believe that those who did not want to receive the shots and truly wanted to become pregnant were smart enough to stop receiving them. At least some of the drop in these birthrate is attributable to access to birth control and control over their childbearing that these women wanted. 
"What is likely true - and needs to be urgently corrected, is that those who do want to practice birth control understand that there are alternative methods that are safer with fewer side effects, and that no ethnic group, native or immigrant is ever systematically given Depo-Provera again."
I'm sure the Huffington Post will be racing to publish the truth anytime now.

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