Tag Archives: book review

Research Shows US and UN Diplomats Promoted Abortion as Population Control

By Lauren Funk

(C-FAM) The new book by journalist Mara Hvistendahl on sex selected abortion shows how American diplomats and politicians were active in promoting abortion, often through UN channels, as a means of population control in the developing world.

A body of historical evidence connects the advocates of abortion and population control with US development aid policy, organizations such as Planned Parenthood, and the United Nations secretariat.

General William Draper Jr., a World War II general turned US diplomat, was a “staunch proponent of abortion,” Hvistendahl writes in her controversial new book “Unnatural Selection.” General Draper directed the government’s interest in population control to coincide with issues of security and international development in the post World War II world by connecting high fertility rates with poverty, and poverty with the possible rise of communism in Asia. Draper promoted abortion as a viable method of birth control, and encouraged it for the sake of decreased fertility, which was expected to have positive economic effects in the targeted nations, thus avoiding conditions favorable to popular revolutions.

General Draper continued to advise numerous presidential administrations in the 1950’s and 1960’s on the threat to US national security posed by explosive populations in the developing world, suggesting abortion and “family planning” as the solution. General Draper was “responsible for the first official recommendations that the U.S. government help other nations, on request, to deal with population issues,” wrote Planned Parenthood when they honored him with the Margaret Sanger Award in 1966.

General Draper also advocated for the creation of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 1969. International observers have criticized UNFPA for promoting “family planning” and access to abortion as a solution to the issue of poverty in countries with large populations and/or high fertility rates.

General Draper’s son, William H. Draper III, became one of the most significant figures at the United Nations during the following decade. Draper III was made head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 1986. Under Draper’s tenure, UNDP expanded its fundraising to new levels and began a “Women in Development” division, a division which now focuses on achieving universal access to contraception, sex rights and HIV, and gender mainstreaming.

Draper III is also a member emeritus of Population Action International (PAI) board of directors. PAI was originally founded as the “The Population Crisis Committee” by General Draper, and continues to play an active role in supporting population-related programs, including activism at the Cairo Conference on Population and Development in 1994.

Research from Hvistendahl and others also revealed that prominent politicians like Henry Kissinger also promoted abortion abroad as a tool to reduce fertility around the world. Kissinger claimed in a 1974 government memo that abortion is vital to the solution of world population growth. “No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion,” stated the memo, which was signed by Kissinger.

US presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush, similarly supported the promotion of population control in poorer countries, for the sake of American security and international stability

By Lauren Funk writes for C-FAM. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (http://www.c-fam.org/). This article appears with permission.

Book Review: Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

Part II: How “Complicit” is the UN in Asia’s Sex Selective Abortion Crisis?

(C-FAM) A new book has raised hackles among abortion advocates about just how much the UN Population Fund is to blame for more than 160 million missing girls in Asia: aborted in the quest for sons.

Mara Hvistendahl’s Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men is “one of the most consequential books ever written in the campaign against abortion” according to a Wall Street Journal review; the book’s scholarly credentials bolstered by a standing-room-only event with demographer Nicholas Eberstadt at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

While conservatives hail the book’s breakthrough research, Hvistendahl’s fellow progressives haggle over its findings. The liberal Guardian’s review elicited a terse letter from UNFPA condemning Hvistendahl’s conclusion that UNFPA and feminist organizations have done little to stop the practice. In the letter UNFPA claims credit for persuading the Chinese to outlaw sex selection in 1994.

That law has done little, however. Sex selective abortion persists despite a similar ban in India, resulting in extremely skewed sex ratios at birth. Normally there are around 105 males per 100 females born, but China now reports a ratio of 120 boys to 100 girls and that has led to trafficking for prostitution and widespread bride buying.

In her response to the UNFPA letter, Hvistendahl dodges direct conflict with the agency and instead criticizes the Guardian’s review as “misleading” readers into thinking she had proven UNFPA’s direct complicity in the one-child policy that fuels sex selective abortion. “There is a difference between outright funding an injustice and ignoring injustice once it occurs,” she argues. Readers may not be so convinced.

Hvistendahl ably demonstrates that despite UNFPA’s touted mission to fight gender discrimination, the agency deliberately refrains from taking a position on sex selective abortion. UNFPA officials told her privately this is because they are “in a bind” since, as one demographer working with UNFPA put it, “the right to abort remains UNFPA’s ‘priority issue.’”

“How do you hold on to this discrimination tag and at the same time talk about safe abortion access to it?” a UNFPA officer told her: “It has been a huge challenge to us…We are walking a tightrope.”

Internal UNFPA directives tell officers to shift the blame, emphasizing “women whose husbands beat them or threaten divorce if they don’t produce an heir.” One pamphlet directs advocates to “avoid language that holds the mother responsible…she has very little control over the decision…choice in the absence of autonomy is no choice.”

Hvistendahl cites a 2010 internal staff memo warning UNFPA country officers to stay away from the 1995 UN Beijing statement on women that condemned “prenatal sex selection and female infanticide” and to avoid associating the practice with human rights.

As soon as they acknowledge how many women go through numerous abortions to get a boy, a Canadian sociologist told her, “the Vatican will be the first one to say, ‘Ban abortion, make abortion illegal!’”

“Fear of the ‘A-word’,” Hvistendahl concludes, has “immobilized the very people who should be crying oppression.”

By Susan Yoshihara writes for C-FAM. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (http://www.c-fam.org/). This article appears with permission.