— Posted by John (October 27, 2006 at 5:08 pm)
Reader Ellen recently alerted us to an entry posted earlier this month on the pro-abortion blog RHRealityCheck — the same blog that also recently included a series of posts by one Tyler LePard, who attended our “Contraception Is Not the Answer” conference last month.
Amidst the media hysteria about the U.S. population reaching 300 million this month, it seems an opportune moment to reflect on the deeply subjective nature of the concept of “overpopulation.” One example: how is it that Europe’s low birth rate is a population “crisis,” whereas Africa’s high birth rate is also a population “crisis”? Three guesses.
For this and other food for thought, I highly recommend 10 Reasons to Rethink ‘Overpopulation’ [PDF], a thoughtful new resource from Hampshire College’s Population and Development Program that explores the links between population, reproductive health, human rights, racism, and the environment. Here are some particularly compelling reasons to rethink:
1. Population control targets women’s fertility and restricts reproductive rights.
2. Population alarmism encourages apocalyptic thinking that legitimizes human rights abuses.
3. Conventional views of overpopulation stand in the way of greater global understanding and solidarity.
If I had my way, it would be required reading for all 300 million Americans…
In response, reader KellyR posted a comment that begins:
I was surprised to see this post. I would consider these old arguments to be harmful rhetoric and should be placed as such under that portion of your website. The paper referenced above only harms the family planning/reproductive health movement now that we’ve moved on.
“Now that we’ve moved on?”
On the one hand, there’s some amount of credit due to self-styled “pro-choice” advocates when they recognize the historical connection between racism, eugenics, and population control.
(As an aside: The aforementioned Tyler LePard claimed that the “(not so subtle) undertones” of the presentations at last month’s CINTA conference — demographer Andrew Pollard‘s in particular — “were anti-immigration, racist, and sexist.” These accusations are hopelessly off the mark, of course, but don’t take my word for it. Listen to his whole talk and judge for yourself.)
But to suggest that the so-called pro-choice movement has readily acknowledged the dark history of population control and “moved on” is ridiculous.
Exhibit A: the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, which still, to this day, refuses to come clean about the beliefs of its founder, Margaret Sanger. (For background, LEARN has an excellent article titled “The Truth About Margaret Sanger” here.)
There are any number of examples that could be used to illustrate Planned Parenthood’s rewriting of history about the woman it praises as having gained “worldwide renown, respect, and admiration” for founding the American birth control movement.
The same page on Planned Parenthood’s website also notes, for example, that Sanger:
always believed that reproductive decisions should be made on an individual and not a social or cultural basis, and she consistently and firmly repudiated any racial application of eugenics principles. For example, Sanger vocally opposed the racial stereotyping that effected passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, on the grounds that intelligence and other inherited traits vary by individual and not by group.
It would seem that those at Planned Parenthood today have never heard of — much less read — Sanger’s “Plan for Peace”, published in the April 1932 edition of Birth Control Review, in which she proposed the creation of a “Population Congress”, one of whose goals would be:
to keep the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feebleminded, idiots, morons, insane, syphilitic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class barred by the immigration laws of 1924 [emphasis added].
The pro-abortion movement of the early 21st century is the direct descendant of the birth control/population control movement of the early 20th century. Considering KellyR’s comment cited above — that it “harms” the abortion rights movement when the dark history of the population control movement is mentioned — we as pro-lifers must not stop talking about it.
It is inevitable that the widespread availability of contraception will lead to coercive population control.
As a very wise man said in 1968:
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of [contraception] passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone…
You can “rethink overpopulation” until the cows come home, but until you recognize that abortion and contraception are the problem (and, indeed, that there is no such thing as overpopulation — as Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “How can you say there are too many children? That’s like saying there are too many flowers”), you’re wasting your time.
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