–New report reveals CRS/USAID dispensed millions of contraceptives and abortifacients–
Since at least 2009, despite numerous well documented reports, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has denied having had any part in the distribution of contraception in any of its projects. Here are a few examples of what has already been reported:
- In 2008, CRS was caught by theologian Germaine Grisez, distributing flip-charts promoting condom use.
- In 2012, 86% of CRS’s domestic grants went to organizations that distribute contraception, commit abortion, and perform sterilizations.
- In 2015, CRS enlisted the help of PEPFAR to alter the public record that showed that CRS implemented the contraception-promoting program, Healthy Choices II.
- Also in 2015, CRS was found to have applied for a government grant to implement the next phase of a condom-promoting video series it had already implemented.
In each case, CRS denied in any way to have promoted, distributed, or facilitated the distribution of any form of contraception. For instance, in response to a 2013 report by Population Research Institute that provided strong evidence of CRS’s participation in the distribution of contraception, CRS said:
CRS programming does not include the promotion or distribution of artificial family planning or distribution of abortifacients in any country in which we work.
That same year, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published a defense of CRS titled, “Support for Catholic Relief Services: A Statement of the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.” In the statement, the bishops said,
It is and has been CRS’ policy never to distribute or promote artificial contraceptives or abortifacients or to promote abortion.
We now have proof that while this may be a policy on paper, it is not a policy in practice.
The Lepanto Institute has just completed an investigative report, which gives conclusive evidence to the fact that CRS stored and dispensed 2.25 million units of abortifacient contraceptives and condoms in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
From 2006-2010, CRS was an implementing partner in a USAID-funded project called Project AXxes. Inventory reports from quarterly and annual reports for Project AXxes show that CRS received and dispensed 2.25 million units of contraception. According to the final report, the total distribution of contraception was broken down to 88,235 doses of Depo Provera (injectable contraception), 56,885 cycles of the oral contraceptive called Lo-Femenal, 44,097 cycles of the oral contraceptive called Ovrette, 1,907 IUDs, 2,025,216 male condoms, 40,891 female condoms, 16 IUD insertion kits, and 18 surgical sterilization kits (called CCV Kits, for the French “contraception chirurgicale volontaire”).
Below is a screen-capture of the inventory report found on page 18 of the Annexes for the First Quarterly Report in Year 3 of Project AXxes.
In order to better see the relevant parts of this inventory report, we’ve clipped the image and added highlights. On the lower left of the inventory report is a box indicating “Quantity Received by CRS,” and above it is a box marked “Distributed to HZs.” The numbers to the right of these boxes show how much of each item listed at the top of the chart was received by CRS and how many of these items were distributed to Health Zones (HZ). This inventory report is but one example among many, showing that CRS received, stored, and dispensed contraception that was then distributed throughout health zones for which CRS was responsible.
What must be understood is that these inventory reports were not maintained in some database somewhere away from the project site, but were conducted through visual inventory accounting that was signed off in triplicate by staff responsible for CRS’s warehouse. Section 3.4.1 of the Project AXxes Administrative, Financial and Operations Procedures Manual states:
A physical inventory of the equipment and supplies will be done quarterly. This is to insure that all the equipment and supplies accounted for are indeed physically present. The inventory will be carried out by a team composed, according their level, of the administrator/manager of the project, the logistician and another member of the team. A report, duly signed by the members of the inventory team and the manager of the stock, must confirm the inventory.
Make no mistake, there was no data entry error here, a country administrator did not accidentally identify CRS in the project (as CRS claimed last year regarding its involvement in Healthy Choices II), and this wasn’t done by some third party acting without CRS’s knowledge or permission (as CRS claimed last year with the implementation of the condom-promoting program called Shuga). On the contrary, these inventory reports were highly detailed, very specific, and signed off in triplicate every quarter. This was not a mistake.
But CRS’s involvement in the storage and distribution of contraception wasn’t limited to merely acting as a warehouse site. According to the quarterly and annual reports, CRS incorporated the message of family planning in all aspects of its work in Project AXxes with the full knowledge that the purpose of Project AXxes’s family planning component was the spread of contraception and the reduction of family sizes. In polite company, this is called “population control.”
Page 8 of the Final Report for Project AXxes says:
The provision of high quality, integrated and accessible family planning services was another key objective of Project AXxes. Family planning (FP) interventions in Project AXxes are focused on promoting birth spacing and avoiding unwanted pregnancies to improve maternal health and child wellbeing. Targeted interventions focus on service delivery for women (provision of a full complement of family planning methods, training of clinical providers, and increasing accessibility at the community level) as well as promoting family planning and helping communities understand the value of family planning as a component of good health.
On the same page, the report goes on to explain that the natural family planning component of Project AXxes was nothing more than a stepping stone to introducing women to modern contraceptives. The Final Report says:
Nearly every woman is counseled on MAMA [a natural family planning program] postpartum, and then at her six month visit she is given options for other methods of family planning—a normal step from natural to modern methods.
The thing is, CRS knew all of this would be essential aspects of the project at the time the project was proposed. A document produced at the beginning of the project, titled, “AXxes Project Description,” would have been available to CRS at the outset. On page 1, under the heading “Component A: Increased Access to Integrated Primary Health Care Interventions” is section one, which is labeled, “Child spacing and reproductive health.” This section says:
Child spacing and reproductive health objectives will be achieved through behavior change communication (BCC) messages providing evidence-based information that ensures clients are able to make informed health decisions. Activities will focus on: (1) increase contraceptive security, (2) promote and provide a mix of contraceptive methods, including natural (e.g., SDM and LAM) and modern (e.g., pills, IUD, condoms, etc), (3) promote birth spacing (rather than limiting births) as an entry point for service delivery, (4) ensure that all outreach messages incorporate and involve men, (5) explore partnering and/or collaborating more comprehensively with UNFPA in the provision of family planning services, especially in hard-to-reach areas affected by conflict, (6) provide appropriate screening for and treatment/referral of sexually transmitted infections (STls), (7) provide synergies with HI V/AIDS programming, such as incorporating family planning services into PMTCT and VCT programs, (8) promote community-based activities that include messages for parents about birth spacing and behavior change.
In fact, CRS’s own medical coordinator for Project AXxes, while wearing a polo shirt depicting both the USAID and CRS logos, was very blunt about Project AXxes’s promotion of “family planning.” Beginning at 0:32, Dr. Janvier Barhobagayana says:
The Project AXxes has three components: the first component, which is the largest, aims to improve the quality and accessibility of health care. In fact, this component has a lot of aspects of maternal and child health, assisted delivery, prenatal visits, preschool consultation, family planning, newborn health, PMTCT …
In case there was any question that he meant contraception when he said “family planning,” he was quoted in a 2010 USAID newsletter called FrontLines, where he made it clear. On page 9, in the article titled, “Hospital Deliveries Improve Maternal and Infant Health” he says, “Figures for access to prenatal care, assisted deliveries, and use of contraceptives all show improvement over the last year.”
The “improved” use of contraception really comes as no surprise, considering the extra help in distribution that CRS received in the third year of Project AXxes. Page 15 of the First Quarter Report for Year three says:
USAID provided commodities were very much welcomed and distributed this quarter to implementing partners. These included: 116,000 doses of Depo provera, 42,000 cycles LoFemenal, 20,000 cycles Ovrette and 1,600,000 condoms. Distribution to specific HCs is nearly complete in almost all of the delivery points. We are anticipating even higher FP uptake of services and CYP for next quarter and have appreciated strong support both technical and commodity related from USAID in this endeavor.
CRS-supported HZs received extra support by combining their FP distribution with the CDR (APAMESK) to make FP commodities available at all HCs with other commodities and in a timely manner to avoid stock outs.
One of the indicators for the project was how effectively each implementing partner increased what are called “Couple Years of Protection (CYP).” CYP is a calculation of the cumulative number of years women in a particular area will not be having children due to the use of family planning. Each year of CYP is determined by the number of units required to prevent a single woman from having a baby for the course of a single year.
For example, 15 cycles of an oral contraceptive equals one couple year of protection because 15 cycles of oral contraceptives potentially represents one year in which a couple is not having a baby. And since one year’s use of depo-provera is 4 shots in order for a couple not to have a baby for one year, 4 doses of depo-provera represents one CYP.
CRS was so adept at its integration of family planning products and messaging into its programs that it vastly outperformed the other implementing partners in increasing the CYP of the people under its charge. By the end of the second quarter in year 3, CRS had more than double the CYP in its health zones than any of the other implementing partners. In fact, it had over four times as many “New family planning acceptors (people adopting a new form of family planning) at USG-supported family planning clinics” than the other implementing partners.
And what is most disturbing of all is that this was done in an area where no contraception-promoting program had previously been introduced. Page 14 of the First Quarter Report for Year 1 says:
The upward trends in CYP are shown in the table and chart below. The change is most significant in many HZs in South Kivu and Kolwezi HZs which are the areas were the PF activities were not carried out. In those areas, AXxes is the first partner to develop PF programs.
CRS was responsible for health zones throughout South Kivu, which means that its participation in Project AXxes is directly responsible for introducing contraception to a people who had to that date not yet been subjected to the contraceptive population control programs of the west.
The entire report on CRS’s part in the distribution of contraception through Project AXxes is nearly 60 pages long, so this is just a snapshot of what we have found. To read the entire report, please click the link here: //www.lepantoin.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CRS-AXxess-Report_Final.pdf
The evidence very clearly speaks for itself. The facts are indisputable. Inventory reports submitted to the US government show that CRS received 2.25 million units of abortifacient contraception and condoms. In relation to this, CRS helped integrate family planning commodities and messaging into nearly every aspect of its participation in Project AXxes, and as a result was more adept at increasing the Couple Years of Protection than either of the other implementing partners.
For the last 9 years, CRS has denied having had any involvement in the promotion or distribution of contraception, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. What this report proves is that CRS has not been truthful to either the bishops or to the faithful. This is why we are asking Catholics to sign the petition below, telling the bishops of the United States that we will no longer be participating in ANY fundraising campaign for CRS until it is brought into line with Pope Benedict’s motu proprio on Charity, which mandates that:
The diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching.
Please sign the petition here: //lifepetitions.com/petition/boycott-catholic-relief-services-until-they-follow-catholic-teachings-petition