Government funded tetanus vaccines, Keynan Catholic Bishops and miscarriages. How are these things connected to one another?
When Catholic bishops in Kenya issued a press release last month questioning their government’s internationally-funded tetanus vaccine campaign directed at women and girls and warned that it might be laced with an experimental contraceptive that makes them miscarry their babies, it was barely mentioned by the mainstream media outside of Kenya. The BBC carried a brief story that dismissed the allegations as “unfounded” and suggested that even raising such questions was dangerous as it could frighten people from a “safe and certified” lifesaving vaccine.
The few bloggers that gave the bishops any attention were mostly accusatory, like the “friendly atheist” who compared them to Muslim fundamentalists who had somehow got it into their paranoid heads that the West was trying to render them infertile.
The larger Catholic church was silent and no human rights groups rushed to investigate the bishops’ claims, so the whole controversy seemed to evaporate like smog – a backward, African version of a wacky vaccine conspiracy theory, with Catholic anti-birth control overtones. What could poor, black women have to fear from uber-rich white philanthropists and global organizations bearing health-giving pharmaceuticals after all?
BLACK BOX MEDICINE
Well, there is that niggling 60-year history of contraceptive testing on poor, mostly black women in developing countries. Practically every contraceptive ever marketed to Western women was first tried out on some unsuspecting and undereducated poor women, often without access to running water, let alone basic healthcare or a lawyer.