I am speechless and I hope most of you will be the same. There was recently a bill in the Senate to further the efforts of preventing child marriage, The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. Most of the time I am uncomfortable getting in other cultures’ business, but in this case I feel no reluctance. This is not just a case of deciding when a child is no longer a child it is a health issue. According to the International Women’s Health Coalition, “because their bodies are not yet fully developed child brides run a very high risk of complications in pregnancy and childbirth-in fact, childbirth is the leading cause of death for girls ages 15-19. Young brides also are more likely to experience gender-based violence, and are highly vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.” Add to this the fact that some of these children are as young as eight or nine, it gets rid of the “consenting adults” idea. I doubt anyone could coherently argue that an eight year old can give educated consent to this.
Anyway, I know I am not hear to argue child marriage. As I said, the Senate voted on a bill that would, again according to the International Women’s Health Coalition:
- Require the U.S. Department of State to address the status of child marriage in countries with high rates of child marriage in the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
- Require the White House to create a plan to combat child marriage.
- Integrates child marriage prevention into existing development programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Senate was easily passed. However, it failed in the House. According to the Washington Post, the vote was 241-166 for the bill, which is not the 2/3 required to pass. What happened you may ask. How can it be so well supported in the Senate and fail in the House? Apparently a pro-life memo was circulated before the vote, saying that money from this bill would be used to fund abortions and work against pro-life laws.
Connor Williams (see his article linked to in the above Post link) gives some basic facts about the bill. It does NOT mention abortion or even family planning. Which means the pregnancy is not the issue in any way. It also does not give these efforts more funding! “It requires that the President and the State Department make child marriage a core part of American international development strategy.” So no money for abortions.
I am just with out words to express how disturbed I am by this. There is a lot of things I wish to say and none of them polite or anything but hateful. The reason someone thought this bill would be used for abortions is unclear. Why someone would be against directing efforts to save young women’s lives around the world is unclear to me. It is true I have yet to read anything from someone against the bill, but I have a feeling anyone who was would keep it quiet. Who wants to be known as the person who is ok with 9-year-olds getting married.
I urge you to take a moment to write to your congressperson and express your opinion on this. Here is a link for a way to contact your representative and here is one to see if your representative voted yes or no.