Speaking my Mind

Jane Roberts

Guess what! Millions of conceptions (sperm attaches to egg) end in miscarriages. IF you believe in God, then HE is the abortionist par excellence. Also if you believe in God and are against artificial contraception (because your Church tells you that intercourse must be open to procreation), then it is a fact that in places on earth where there is no medical care, and women can’t say no to intercourse, 1 of every 15 women will die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth. Good going God!

I wrote the above comment based on the “Among the Abortion Extremists” column by Ross Douthat  in the Sunday April 8 New York Times suggesting that women who abort Downs Syndrome babies are extremists.

The Population Media Center puts out a weekly summary of population and reproductive health news and this week it contained an article by  conservative columnist Nikita Vladimirov who reported that a group  of alumni from  the University of Notre Dame were vociferously complaining that by offering contraception in its health plan for employees, the University was giving in to the “contraceptive culture” against the very tenets of the CHURCH. I wrote this comment.

Science, reason, common sense, and observation convince me that “God” and all his iterations all over the world is a human invention. Most human beings have sex thousands of times in a life time. It’s fun and a great soporific and only maybe 2, 3, 4 times does the couple want to procreate. Evolution has given human beings the brains to know how to plan their families. The doctrinaire Catholic God is so enamored of human beings, and especially of women, that HE, in the absence of reproductive health care, allows 1 of every 15 women to die as a consequence of pregnancy or child birth. With the number of natural miscarriages that take place you could look at God as the single greatest abortionist of all time. Think about it. Use your brain.”

As you may know I’m the cofounder of 34 Million Friends of the United Nations Population Fund started in 2002 when President Bush withdrew $34 million from women’s reproductive healthcare around the world. I was 60 at the time. From where came the inspiration for this grassroots effort asking Americans to chip in a dollar?  From Abubakar Dungus and from my own “soul” used figuratively of course. This is from my book “34 Million Friends of the Women of the World” published in 2005.

“And so in 2001, when I heard about the PLANET Campaign funded by the Hewlett and Packard Foundations to try to urge Americans to take an interest in population and reproductive health issues.  I was elated. I signed up right away for a Population Activist Weekend in Washington D.C. sponsored by the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation and Population Connection.

For me that Population Activist weekend was pivotal. The one talk I remember vividly was delivered by Abubakar Dungus from UNFPA.  He used this phrase which has stuck with me: “UNFPA works in the sweat and toil of everyday life to bring reproductive health services to the dispossessed of the earth.”

That was like a stab in my heart. I knew it was true. And I also knew – and here you will think I’m an egomaniac with delusions of grandeur – that I was probably the one totally lay person who knew more about this, and who cared more about this, and who had thought more about this than any other lay  person on the planet and that I should talk to the world about this.

Total pipe dream of course! Hmmm. Amazing! I have actually to some extent talked to the world about this.

Without his words I don’t know if I would have launched into 34 Million Friends. I just learned in the last three days that Dungus, as I call him, was going to retire at the end of April. He has been Chief of the Media and Communications Branch of UNFPA during all 16 years of 34 Million friends.  He has been my rock, answering every question, every email, every phone call.  I emailed him the above passage as well as to top people at UNFPA. He wrote back: “Oh dear, Ms. Roberts, you are very generous and I am deeply touched. I will now have to work hard to earn these compliments.  All along, I have not been working, but getting UNFPA to pay me for my hobby and for calling attention to sad things I have seen or witnessed. I am a person who has witnessed his step-mum seek forgiveness before she went into labour, not knowing whether she would live or die.  I am also a person whose sister-in-law, a nurse, bled to death giving birth to her fifth child in a specialist hospital, the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

So, thank you very much, again.

Kind regards,


And having sent a copy of the email to  Natalia Kanem,  Under Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive  Director of the United Nations Population Fund, I got a wonderful reply.

Dear Jane & Dungus,

Loved this! It’s that spirit of activism we are striving to rekindle. Thanks.

Saludos de Natalia

About a year ago I let Dungus know I was an atheist. He told me that he is a Muslim.  No way did he hold my atheism against me. He stayed the same person as always.

As an informed, thinking, and aware person I’m sure he has questions. How could he not? How can anyone who is informed, thoughtful and aware not have questions.  One can never know what anyone truly believes unless they tell you and even then… Hypocrisy and religion go together. They lie in the same bed. Trump now and I when I taught Sunday school way back when our kids were small and even during many of the 16 years of 34 Million Friends.

When I wrote my book (there is a PDF at the bottom of the home page of www.34millionfriends.org) I didn’t want to let people know I was an atheist because it very well might lessen support.  So I hid it. I said for instance on page 4: “There has been a willful denial of girls’ and women’s full humanity by individuals, governments, religions, cultures, and  customs.”  I would have liked to put “religion” first.    And on that same page: “We have to imagine a world where all people, men and women, in equal partnership with no artificial legal, cultural, religious, or economic barriers work together for the greater good.”  Again I deemphasized religion. And I’ve spoken to many religiously affiliated groups (Church Women United for example)  throughout the 16 years without coming clean.  And when many people have said “GOD BLESS YOU for what you are doing” I’ve stayed silent.  Difficult!

Humanity must let go of God for us to have any chance of making some kind of acceptable life for people and for all of life on the planet. Will this ever happen? Can faithless feminists lead the way?  Right now I’m very pessimistic. But at least I’m speaking my mind.

Jane Roberts




About the Author Karen Garst


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