World Vision has filled the TV screens of many over the years, showing the terrible conditions to which poor children are exposed and offering us a chance to help bring hope to poverty-stricken children and their families. It seems, however, that World Vision’s world vision includes all sorts of birth control, including those which are considered abortifacients, as well as connections with pro-abortion resources worldwide. While World Vision has actually tried to distance itself from the word abortion, there is no doubt of its association.
A report from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a U.S. government organization, from September 13, 2012 says:
World Vision found that FP [family planning] was misunderstood to mean abortion by many people, so they changed their terminology from FP to Birth Spacing and then to Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies (HTSP), and it became easier to talk to people about family planning.
World Vision posted a current job post (search domestic, Washington, D.C.) offering a career opportunity, with a grant related to HTSP, asking for a “Project Director – Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies Multi-country Grant.” This ad specifies:
The Project Director will manage a multi-country family planning grant designed to increase global political commitment and resource contributions to global, maternal, newborn and child health goals through:
- increased awareness and engagement of political leaders in the US and Canada and
- increased use of family planning based on HTSP messaging to improve the sexual health of women of child-bearing age and survival of children under 2 in 3 project countries
According to USAID, “Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy is a family planning intervention that helps ensure that pregnancies occur at healthy times in a woman’s life. This approach helps women delay, time, space, or limit their pregnancies to achieve the healthiest outcomes for mother and child.”
World Vision has received grants from The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and has a history of working with USAID, the source of the definition of HTSP above. On a USAID site which gives information on HTSP, this list is included as part of the ways in which the government agency encouraging pregnancy spacing:
D. Hormonal Contraceptives:
- Oral Contraceptive Pill:
- Combined Pill (COC);
- Progesterone Only Pills (POP);
- Emergency Contraceptive Methods
- Injectables: Monthly and Three Monthly
- Vaginal Rings
E. Intrauterine Contraceptive Device: Copper bearing and Hormonal
While other non-abortive methods are also listed, it’s impossible to separate that from the obvious abortifacients, such as emergency contraception and hormonal birth control, which has the ability to expel a fertilized egg. Ella, which is chemically composed like RU-486, is considered a contraceptive by the FDA and would be included on this list, as it qualifies as emergency contraception, but Ella can kill a baby even five days after conception.
World Vision spokesperson Sheryl Watkins says World Vision is an unapologetically pro-life Christian organization. She issued a statement that said:
While the terms ‘birth control,’ ‘family planning,’ and ‘birth spacing’ are often used interchangeably in the public health arena, World Vision most often uses the term ‘birth spacing’ in its maternal health program.” Watkins continued, “For decades, the public health community has recognized that delaying a pregnancy until the previous child’s second birthday is best for the health of the mother and all her children. World Vision promotes the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, and World Vision encourages the use of voluntary family planning methods (e.g., condoms, oral contraceptive pills, and other natural methods) in its child and maternal health programming. At the same time, World Vision does not recommend, provide, nor support abortion. This is a long-standing policy set by World Vision’s board of directors. World Vision does not consider abortion to be a means of family planning.
Watkins said she cannot tell people which oral contraceptives are used, stating:
Our internal analysis on specific birth control methods is dependent on evolving science, and we do not publish a list of acceptable or not acceptable birth control methods. In most cases, World Vision works with beneficiaries to provide counseling on the benefits of healthy spacing of births. We specifically discourage our beneficiaries from obtaining abortions. Our beneficiaries then independently seek family planning methods from other service providers, and World Vision collects data to report on the impact of such services on maternal health.
World Vision adamantly states that it maintains a pro-life stance and does not support abortion, but it continues to be evasive about what family planning methods are used. “Evolving science” could potentially include Ella and Plan B, as well as hormonal contraceptives that can expel an already fertilized egg. Watkins declined a direct answer on whether these methods would be included and offered only the general one above as a reply.
However, this connection with World Vision and abortion goes deeper. Watkins asserts:
… in all of its work, World Vision implements an extensive due-diligence process to ensure that the work that we do aligns with the purpose of our mission and the underlying principles. Accordingly, we take all reasonable precautions to ensure that we are not partnering with or funding any organization to provide, fund, or advocate for abortion services. As noted above, per internal policy, World Vision also conducts extensive due diligence to prevent giving of funds to any organization that provides or promotes abortion. As you note, we may be included by a third party on a list of organizations with whom we disagree on this issue; that does not mean we have changed our position, nor that we support theirs. Again, per our internal policy, World Vision consistently and constantly makes it clear to all players in the maternal health programming space World Vision’s pro-life and anti-abortion stance.
Grant to Save the Children
Also in question is World Vision’s $242,786 grant to the abortion-supporting organization Save the Children, as reported on its last tax form:
Save the Children states in its “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Toolkit for Humanitarian Setting,” “Adolescents should be provided with information and access to safe abortion services when legal” (Page 34). And in a family planning position paper from Save the Children, the organization states that its goal includes the ability to “[p]rovide accurate and relevant information and education regarding family planning options including the use, health benefits and risks of particular contraceptive methods, safer sex information, and pregnancy options including safe abortion.”
Watkins said that the World Vision money that went to Save the Children did not fund abortions and went to projects unrelated to maternal health. Furthermore, “World Vision U.S. does not believe that Save the Children funds or supports abortion.”
This position is curious in light of the Save the Children documents presented above that indicate abortion acceptance.
Finally, if World Vision money is going to abortifacients and grants to abortion-supporting organization, are donations for child sponsorship ending up in these locations? Outside the fungibility factor, the answer is “quite possibly.” While World Vision does offer child sponsorship, the money is never guaranteed to be only for that child. The money goes into the child’s community and programs being worked on in that community. World Vision itself tells sponsors that their money is “combined and leveraged” with government grants (see bolded part below; emphasis added):
Sponsorship brings change to more than just one child. The benefits you help provide extend to each child’s family, his or her community, and other children in need. That’s because World Vision plans and works alongside local community members to help build healthy communities for children in places of poverty. World Vision partners with sponsored children’s communities over the long term to address critical needs and help communities become self-sustaining.
We are committed to using all contributions to our work wisely and effectively. By leveraging or combining funds from child sponsors and other contributors, with government grants and goods donated by corporations, we ensure that all gifts entrusted to us have maximum impact. In 2010, 85 percent of World Vision’s total operating expenses were used for programs that benefit children, families, and communities in need.
Therefore, World Vision, working with USAID and combining sponsorship money, would ensure that people sponsoring children are combining their money with whatever government grants and programs are being used in that region. This means that funds could be going to going to abortifacients and partnered abortion-supporting organizations and not just to clean water and food. The choice is not up to the sponsors, many of whom signed up to sponsor a child and bring life, not abortifacients to the child’s community.
Ultimately, World Vision’s statements leave more questions than answers, as its spokespeople decline to clarify if abortifacients are included in their birth control program. While it asserts itself as a pro-life agency that does not directly fund abortions, it also is directly funding at least one agency that supports abortion advocacy for teens. These are questions that many pro-lifers will want answered to have confidence that donations to World Vision are not involved in or advocating for the destruction of human life.