Kristof’s Error: Population Control is an Easy, but Wrong Solution
Commentary by Bryan Clowes, Research Manager, Human Life International
October 1, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Nicholas Kristof’s entire article “Birth Control over Baldness” [New York Times, Sept. 25, 2010] is constructed around a single sentence: “It’s impossible to fight poverty effectively when birthrates are sky high.”
His answer to this problem, of course, is the simplistic, short-sighted and dangerous solution that many others seem to endorse: Put everyone on birth control. He thus falls into the pit occupied by so many others – the fallacy that complex social problems have a “quick fix” that will make everything better, or at least greatly improve the situation.
Let us get one thing straight before proceeding: The goal of the developed nations is not to improve the standard of living of the people in developed nations. If it were, we’d see billions going toward building schools, investing in business, and other proven methods of helping the people of Africa and Asia flourish. The true objective of population control efforts is neatly summed up by the 1974 top-secret U.S. National Security Study Memorandum 200, revealingly subtitled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests,” which said that:
The U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries. … Wherever a lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the United States.
We must also be clear about another thing: The ultimate objective of the population controllers is not to ensure the widespread availability of contraception, but the worldwide availability of abortion.
NSSM-200 said that, “No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion.” Shortly after NSSM-200’s release, Malcolm Potts, former Medical Secretary of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and perhaps the most knowledgeable person in the world about population matters, said that “No developed country has brought down its birth rate without a considerable recourse to abortion, and it appears unlikely that developing countries can ever hope to see any decline in their fertility without a massive resort to induced abortion, legal or illegal.”
Today, the most powerful population control groups in the world are quite frank about their desire to legalize abortion worldwide. For example, in its 1996 Charter on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, the IPPF claimed that “All women have the right to information, education and services necessary for the protection of reproductive health, safe motherhood and safe abortion and, which are accessible, affordable, acceptable and convenient to all users.” The 1994 Program of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) demanded that all nations make abortion available and free to all women by the year 2015.
Perhaps this impending deadline is goading these groups into getting more and more extreme in their rhetoric; in 2008, one United Nations “expert group” ludicrously claimed that “Withholding legal abortion is a form of gender-based discrimination and violence against women.”
Trampling the Rights, Laws and Traditions of Developing Nations
In their rush to legalize abortion worldwide, the population controllers have no trouble with trampling on the laws of pro-life nations. In its 1984 document The Human Right to Family Planning, the IPPF baldly stated that “Family Planning Associates and other nongovernmental associations should not use the absence of law or the existence of an unfavorable law as an excuse for inaction; action outside the law, or even in violation of it, is part of the process of stimulating change.” Other population control groups, including Marie Stopes International and Medecins Sans Frontieres, have admitted to committing illegal abortions in nations with pro-life laws.
When the only objective is to meet population control quotas, human rights are the first thing to go out the window. NSSM-200, which has never been officially repudiated as United States population policy, outlined the possibility of forced population control programs and the withholding of food as coercion:
âEUR¦ mandatory [population control] programs may be needed and that we should be considering these possibilities now. âEUR¦ On what basis should such food resources then be provided? Would food be considered an instrument of national power? Will we be forced to make choices as to whom we can reasonably assist, and if so, should population efforts be a criterion for such assistance?
Most of us are familiar with the hideous Chinese one-child and forced-abortion program, which “celebrated” its 30th anniversary this week. It is telling indeed that no population control organization has ever condemned or criticized this inhumane program. In fact, many of them have actually praised it. Nafis Sadik, former Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has said that
China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth over the past 10 years. Now the country could offer its experiences and special experts to help other countries.
This slavish dedication to suppressing the population has inevitably led to horrible abuses all over the world. Forced abortion and sterilization programs have been exposed in many countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland, Tibet, Vietnam, and even the United States.
This trend seems to show no signs of slowing down. John Holdren, President Barack Obama’s “Science Czar,” wrote a 1977 book entitled, Ecoscience: Population, Resources and Development, with Paul and Anne Ehrlich [Paul Ehrlich is the author of the thoroughly debunked but still influential The Population Bomb]. In this book, Holdren and the Ehrlichs said that minority women and other undesirables should be forced to have abortions against their wills; that sterilizing agents should be put in the water supplies of the United States to help hold down the population; and that a “Planetary Police Force” should enforce population control measures.
This callous attitude is reflected in the public statements of countless population controllers around the world. After a number of Bangladeshi women died due to the side effects of injectable “contraceptives,” gynecologist Josas Kon said that “In order to have a good thing there is always a price to pay. If two or three women die — what’s the problem? The population will be reduced.”
This kind of uncaring attitude led Indian citizen Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for economics, to remark that “Promoting a “family planning first” strategy can send a message to poor people: `Wish you weren’t here’.”
Having traveled to nearly forty poor nations in the Southern Hemisphere, this writer can confirm from personal experience that nothing contributes more to the image of the “Ugly American” than our attempts to compel the citizens of other nations to adopt our values ? particularly in the most sensitive area of deciding how many children they should have.
The Poor of the World Need Plows, Not Pills
What the poor people of the world need is not pills and condoms, but authentic economic development. Studies have demonstrated that, when the standard of living of poor people is raised, they tend to have fewer children. Urbanization, the education of women, increased consumerism, and job opportunities for women outside the home are among the factors that influence people to have smaller families.
But correcting such deficiencies is too difficult and complex for the population controllers. They prefer the simpler and more direct policy of “Find ’em, bribe ’em, neuter ’em and forget ’em,” which does nothing more than make large poor families into small poor families.
The world’s richest nations, led by the United States and the United Kingdom, have poured more than $75 billion into population control over the past two decades, wreaking havoc in the families and cultures of the developing world. Imagine how many tens of millions of people could have been raised out of poverty to a higher standard of living had all that money been invested in the future of these nations’ future rather than in eliminating their future, their children.
See the LifeSiteNews Feature Page on NSSM 200