Tag Archives: population control

Billionaire’s Wife Attacks Catholic Teaching on Birth Control

By Timothy Herrmann

NEW YORK – C-FAM) Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a Catholic, is telling governments to dismiss the controversial link between contraception and population control and explicitly rejects Catholic social teaching along the way. Her rhetoric is part of her multi-billion dollar foundation’s new “NoControversy” campaign to reinforce universal access to birth control as a priority in the developing world.

Speaking at a TedxChange conference in Berlin, Germany, Gates argued that contraception has been mistakenly associated with population control, abortion, forced sterilization, and mortal sin and insisted they are “side issues” that “have attached themselves to the core idea that men and women should be able to decide when to have a child.”

Yet even Gates herself admitted that for years population control and contraception have become synonymous in the developing world, with countries like India “adopt[ing] unfortunate incentives [and] coercive methods as part of their family planning programs” in the 1960s and indigenous women in Peru being “anesthetized and sterilized without their knowledge” as recently as the 1990s.

Though these coercive practices may have fallen out of favor, it may be far harder for organizations like the Gates Foundation to separate their own promotion of contraception entirely from population control.

In their Annual Letter for 2012, the Gates Foundation draws a direct connection between “unsustainable” population growth and poverty and posits contraception as an essential tool to ensuring that “populations in countries like Nigeria will grow significantly less than projected.” Even recent history shows that governments that make fertility reduction a priority can easily slip into coercive modes such as what Gates recognized happened in Peru not long ago. The US government has said that even goals and timetables for contraceptive use are inherently coercive.

Gates was particularly critical of the Catholic Church. She singled out Catholic social teaching as an obstacle to access to contraception throughout the world, stating that “as a practicing Catholic,” and “in the tradition of the great Catholic scholars,” it is “important to question received teachings,” in particular “the one saying that birth control is a sin.”

Along with the Gates Foundation, organizations like UNFPA blame religious beliefs and contraception’s association with population control for creating a situation in which over 215 million women in the developing world experience what they call an “unmet need” for contraception. They define “unmet need” as “women and men who say they want no more children or want to delay their next birth by more than two years, but are not practicing contraception.”

However, claiming that women who do not want children immediately and who report not using contraception as in “need” of contraception is misleading, as was shown in a landmark study by economist Lant H. Pritchet, currently professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard.

The study finds that access to contraception has little effect on fertility and that women will have the number of children they choose whether they have access to contraception or not. The study also explains that factors such as dislike for the side effects of contraception and religious objections are just as important as the cost and availability of contraception.

Timothy Herrmann is Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute’s (C-FAM)representative to the United Nations. His article first appeared in Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM, a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (http://www.c-fam.org/). This article appears with permission.

How Population Control has Harmed National Security

By Tom McFeely

(NEW YORK C-FAM) For decades, a basic tenet of the international population-control lobby has been that declining fertility rates will generate a more stable international order. But according to an impressive panel of scholars who have contributed to a new book, this scenario of “geriatric peace” is untenably optimistic.

Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics is a collection of nine research essays, published by Potomac Books and edited by C-FAM senior vice president Susan Yoshihara and C-FAM senior fellow Douglas Sylva. In the book’s foreword, demographer and political economist Nicholas Eberstadt applauds its contributors for tackling the “profound and as-yet unanswered questions” associated with population decline and international politics.

The prevailing assumption that relatively old countries are predisposed automatically to peace is not historically defensible, as Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics points out. In the last century relatively aged regimes like Nazi Germany and Serbia in the 1990s were notable for their aggression against younger neighbors, and in classical history democratic Athens reacted to the demographic shock of a devastating plague by initiating a series of costly and ill-judged military actions.

Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics begins with three chapters, written by Phillip Longman, James R. Holmes and Francis Sempa, that set forth an analytical framework for assessing the interaction between geopolitics and demographic decline. The rest of the book is devoted to case studies of six key global actors: Russia, Europe and Japan, which are all wrestling with below-replacement fertility rates; the rising Asian powers of China and India, whose futures will be differentiated by strikingly different demographic profiles; and the United States, whose “demographic exceptionalism” makes it the only major developed power to resist depopulation.

In Russia, births declined by a stunning 50% during the period 1987–1999. Murray Feshbach analyzes the effects of this baby blight in the context of military recruitment. Exacerbated by the widespread incidence of HIV and tuberculosis, the country’s severe shortage of fit young males “will lead to a more tenuous situation in Russian society, including the military, than the economic dimension would portend,” Feshbach predicts.

Japan has sought to ameliorate its own demographic challenge by substituting high-tech weaponry for soldiers. In the process, “the minimal defense capabilities that Japan should retain as an independent nation have already been forfeited,” according to one Japanese general. These limitations might also restrict Japan from contributing effectively to regional military alliances. If so, Toshi Yoshihara warns in his strategic analysis, this “could add tremendous volatility to alliance politics and trigger competitive great power dynamics at the regional level that could nevertheless have global reverberations.”

Faced with similar demographic constraints, Europe is seeking to exercise “soft power” (as opposed to military and economic “hard power”) through its domination of multilateral institutions, and also on continued high immigration. Whether the multilateralist approach will be effective is entirely unknown, Douglas Sylva notes, while Europe’s fertility rates are now so low it would require an immigration influx far beyond what the continent can accommodate.

Sylva suggests European policymakers instead consider a radically different approach of trying to advantage their own native-born “family-oriented women” to increase birth rates. Writes Sylva, “Doing so, of course, would force Europe to abandon some of its most cherished tenets of feminism and multiculturalism, a step for which there is little evidence to suggest any European governments are prepared to take, despite the geopolitical consequences.”

Tom McFeely 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.

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.

2011 UN Agenda: Same As It Ever Was

By Terrence McKeegan, J.D.

UN-watchers expect the new year’s agenda to include youth, demography, reproductive health, the homosexual agenda, and the global economic crisis.

Last summer the UN announced the International Year for Youth that runs for a year. UN leaders expected commitments for a global conference on youth slated for sometime next summer, but the General Assembly failed to approve a final plan. Even so, wary conservatives expect some aggressive action on youth in the new year.

In particular, social conservatives expect a massive push to sexualize young children, something made explicit at the World Youth Conference in Mexico last August, as well as in a UN report calling for radical sexual education for young children last Fall.

Global demographic meltdown also concerns UN Member States. Governments around the world bemoan below replacement fertility rates and crashing social welfare systems. The UN says 70 countries have fertility rates that are below replacement level. According to many economists, states with below replacement level fertility will not be able to sustain their social benefit systems, with too few new workers to pay for the benefits of rapidly ageing populations.

The demographic crisis challenges the decades-old emphasis by UN agencies and Western countries in pushing population control in the guise of reproductive health and sustainable development on the developing world. The UN Commission on Population and Development this year deals with the directly related issues of fertility and development.

One of the most contentious issues since the 1990’s, UN agencies, UN commissions and left-wing advocacy groups use the term reproductive health to push for a right to abortion. Advocates expect a pitched battle this year over the reproductive health agenda and a serious push back from pro-life quarters.

Just this month, the journal Contraception published a study from Spain that found that although contraceptive use increased 60%, the abortion rate doubled. This directly contradicts the widely-accepted dogma that increased use of contraception reduces the number of abortions.

Member States also face serious concerns over the deepening financial crisis. Western governments face massive deficits and are moving in the direction of austerity budgets. Newly elected Republicans in the US intend to follow Canada’s lead to defund Planned Parenthood, as well as other programs that push abortion and controversial issues.

With most of the major international donors experiencing severe fiscal problems, development aid and obtaining additional funding commitments will be a major emerging issue in 2011.

The homosexual agenda will be pervasive in many international negotiations in 2011, partly due to the Obama administration making it a primary focus of its foreign policy. Expect to see several attempts to incorporate the undefined terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into as many UN documents as possible.

Finally, UN Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon is up for reelection this year. Social conservatives complained about his outspoken support in December for the homosexual agenda and the appointments of many pro-abortion advocates to high level UN positions under his watch.

Originally published in Friday Fax, January 6, 2011. Friday fax is a publication of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM).