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Petitioning Members of Congress

DEPO PROVERA: END FEDERAL FUNDING for World’s Most Dangerous Contraceptive

Rebecca Project for Justice (RPJ) is educating women of color in the United States, Africa and other emerging markets about unethical medical practices and Pfizer’s carcinogenic contraceptive Depo Provera (DMPA).  Depo Provera is targeted to Africans and women of color globally. Typically, Black, low-income and vulnerable women & girls of all races are targeted and injected without full informed consent.  In the U.S. less than 2% of white women are injected with Depo Provera, and in Europe the use of injectables such as Depo Provera is negligible. In Israel, Depo Provera is now restricted with funding from Shira Saperstein of the Moriah Fund. However, Saperstein callously promotes Depo Provera as a safe contraceptive for Black women in the US and Africa while protecting her Jewish communities. 

On September 23 2011, RPJ’s unethical medical practices and anti-Depo Provera advocacy culminated in the publication of The Outsourcing of Tuskegee: Nonconsensual Research in Africa report.  It was launched at Congressman John Conyers’ Judiciary Brain Trust during the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Conference. RPJ received intense scrutiny and pressure from Reproductive Health funders, their activists, and some policymakers to withdraw the report.    

On March 1 2012, Rebecca Project published a companion report to The Outsourcing of Tuskegee: Unethical Medical Research in Africa Funded or Assisted by the US Government or Other US-Based Institutions 

On June 25 2013, Rebecca Project for Justice published a definitive policy report: Depo-Provera: Deadly Reproductive Violence Against Women.  Kwame Fosu, the report’s author and Policy Director at the Rebecca Project describes Depo Provera’s violence against women, as one of the most egregious and insidious civil and human rights abuses by health providers and foundations.  Millions of women in the US, Africa and other emerging markets in Asia are misled about lethal harm documented by the FDA and NIH, and consequently suffer from debilitating diseases.  

On September 20 2013, a Congressional Briefing held by Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-MO) discussed “Black Box Warnings to Protect Black Women,” during the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference. Congressman Clay spoke at the briefing stating the need to end the unethical practice of misleading women about Depo Provera’s harm. Hon. Lacy Clay is a civil and human rights advocate and Vice Chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.    

In 2014, Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), is planning to hold a Congressional Hearing on Unethical Medical Practices in Africa. Witnesses will discuss Trovan and Nevirapine experiments, and the unethical use of Depo Provera by US doctors and researchers, for example Columbia University's Dr James Phillips of the Mailman School of Pulic Health  Depo Provera significantly increases HIV/AIDS infections and breast cancer. The discussion will also include Norplant, which was pulled from U.S. markets in 2002 after multimillion dollar settlements by Pfizer. However, as part of US family planning policy, Norplant is still implanted in economically deprived women globally. Pfizer evades US litigation by licensing Norplant/Jadelle to Euro corp. Bayer, and Norplant is promoted by global health foundations, such as Gates and the Population Council, to Africans and emerging markets (discussed on pages 4 and 13). 

About Congressman Christopher Smith: Congressman Smith is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. Some highlights of his human rights record are: In 1986, Chris Smith voted against his party to support sanctions against South Africa to help end Apartheid; in 2000, Smith authored the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to combat global human trafficking, and is an ardent advocate for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); Rep. Smith has supported billions for HIV/AIDS health funding  and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS ReliefPEPFAR; and in 2012 Rep. Christopher Smith orchestrated an important hearing to help blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng’s release from China. He patched Chen by phone, from a hospital room in China into the US Congressional Hearing room where Chen pleaded to the world for help.  

About our Executive Director, Elaine Riddick: In 1968, Ms. Riddick was forcibly sterilized at age 13 in North Carolina and fought back for 40 years for a 10 million dollar settlement.  Click here for Elaine Riddick’s story  narrated by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and NBC Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman: .

Letter to
Members of Congress
We write to ask you to end Federal funding for the world’s most dangerous carcinogenic contraceptive, Depo Provera. As elected leaders seeking solutions to health disparities and reproductive justice for women in the U.S. and globally it is imperative that Depo Provera is pulled from the market or strictly regulated. Ending funding effectively saves lives in low-income communities with the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the United States and Africa. Recent studies in policy reports have also confirmed that women who use Depo Provera have double the risk of developing breast cancer. Depo Provera also has an unintended consequence of doubling a female’s susceptibility to HIV/AIDS, because Depo Provera induces thinning of the vaginal epithelium.

For example, in the U.S., whereas less than 2% of white women are injected with the dangerous drug Depo Provera (DMPA), Blacks, Latinas, low-income and vulnerable women & girls of all races are predominantly targeted and injected without knowledge of FDA warnings of lethal harm, and without informed consent. In sharp contrast, use of injectable contraceptives in Europe is virtually nonexistent but they still maintain the lowest rates of pregnancies in the world.

Health providers that serve low-income women and girls, such as Planned Parenthood, are not informing patients about FDA warnings and should be required to post FDA/Depo Provera warnings on websites and explain all potential side effects to patients before administering injections to women. It is a violation of patients’ rights to deliberately mislead and misinform them about documented and serious potential harm from Depo Provera.

Finally, in a seminal unethical reproductive health experiment, researchers experimented with Depo Provera, approximately 9,000 impoverished women in Ghana were not informed they were human subjects in the “Navrongo Experiment”, designed by Dr. James Phillips a Population Council researcher and currently a Columbia University professor. The Navrongo region is impoverished with inadequate clinics and hospitals.

We thank you and request that you adopt the Israeli anti-Depo Provera blueprint funded by Reproductive Health funders, Shira Saperstein & Mary Ann Stein of the Moriah Fund who supported Association for Civil Rights in Israel & others to end racist Depo Provera policies in Israel to protect and restore the dignity of women

References associated with this petition:

Depo Provera:

Pfizer/FDA “black box warning”:

double the risk of developing breast cancer:

Depo Provera induces thinning of the vaginal epithelium:

HIV-negative partners at a greater risk:

mislead and misinform:

Navrongo Experiment:

coerced into taking Depo Provera:

documented as a dangerous:

White or affluent:

historically misled Black communities about their reproductive health:

according to the CDC:

deaths among South Africans: