Anti-abortion activists using such rhetoric neglect the fact that Native American women are less likely to have access to reproductive health services, but more likely to experience unintended pregnancies than their white counterparts. To boot, Native American women have been the targets of proposed legislation curtailing reproductive health funding. The irony of anti-abortion activists citing Native Americans is mind-boggling.
The Religious Right down under has also started using indigenous peoples as symbols for its political agenda, in this case to oppose reproductive technology use by same-sex couples. Voiced from Australia's Religious Right have condemned not only same-sex marriage, but also the use of in-vitro fertilization and donor conception by same-sex couples who wish to start families. More and more, however, they warn that same-sex marriage and same-sex couples use of reproductive technologies will result in another "stolen generation" of Australian children.
The term "stolen generation" refers to an estimated 100,000 children of Australian aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander descent who were taken from their biological families and placed with white families. Under an Australian government policy from 1910 to 1971, tens of thousands of Aboriginal children were placed with white families in order to assimilate them into white society, according to Time Magazine. Mixed race children children were most commonly targeted. The result was personal trauma for the thousands of children and families impacted by the practice, as well as cultural trauma for Australia's indigenous communities.
In a move of questionable taste, some Australian Religious Right figures warn that same-sex couple's use of reproductive technologies will create another "stolen generation". For example, the "stolen generation" analogy has been used on the Australian Family Association's website to argue against same-sex marriage in Australia. Tim Cannon, a voice from the Australian Family Association, wrote in a 2009 column in News Weekly that same-sex marriage would result in children being conceived by one biological couple but raised by another, same-sex couple. He warned that such arrangements would create pain and a sense of abandonment for any children created, comparing it to the trauma of the "stolen generation".
Such rhetoric is not limited to the Australian Family Association. In a 2011 commentary at the Courier Mail, David van Gend of the Family Council of Queensland argued that gay men raising children would create a "gay stolen generation" by robbing babies of mothers.
Voices from the Australian Christian LObby are also fond of the "stolen generation" analogy. In June 2012, Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace used the analogy to condemn a court decision recognizing two men as the parents of a baby born through surrogacy.
"Love is not the issue here. Of course two men can love a child but they can never be a mother, no matter how hard they try," Wallace said in a statement. "The adoptive parents of many of the indigenous stolen generation also loved the children placed in their care but it was still a mistake to remove them from their biological parents."In August 2012, Mark Brown, the Tasmanian director of the Australian Christian lobby, criticized Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings' support for same-sex marriage by using the "stolen generation" analogy.
"I cannot understand why the Premier cannot see the link between forcing children to be removed from their biological parents between the 1950s and 1980s and gay marriage which also sets up a framework for children to be raised by someone other than their parents? ... “In 20 or 30 years, we will have a generation who will say, `who made the decision I should never have had a mother or father?"To demonize same-sex parenting by speaking of it in the same breath as a human rights violation against Australia's aboriginal community is tasteless in the extreme. It trivializes the trauma of forced adoption by using the "stolen generation" as a cheap political symbol. Furthermore, it ignores the many same-sex couples who have raised happy, healthy children from prior relationships, adoption, or reproductive technologies.
To the Religious Right on both sides of the Pacific Ocean: stop using indigenous people as political symbols for your agendas. Stop trivializing human rights violations against indigenous communities by using them them to demonize abortion or same-sex marriage. Show respect not only to same-sex couples, but also to the survivors of cultural trauma and their descendants.