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Baby Boom

How American “culture of life” policies are helping balloon the world population

March 3rd, 2007 · Written by · No Comments

Consider this: The places where life is already nasty, brutish and short are hotbed breeding grounds for terrorist and extremist militias. Now consider what would happen if those places are swelled by another five billion people.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the average family has six children, making the region one of the fastest growing populations centers in the world. By 2050 it will be triple the size of Europe’s population, despite a high AIDS-related death rate.

Many young women, undereducated in a patriarchal culture, are caring for large families of siblings

And the HIV cycle there is tragic. Many young women, undereducated in a patriarchal culture, are caring for large families of siblings, some by selling their bodies to pay for food and shelter. They inevitably contract HIV, die, and leave behind a family of children doomed to repeat the cycle.

In India, where the population will soon surpass China at over a 1.5 billion, cultural mores place a higher emphasis on male than female children and low education means low contraception use. Women are pressured to have several male babies — or keep reproducing until they do. The boys will supposedly care for the elders in old age.

Population models show that for the Earth’s population to stabilize at nine billion, the global average fertility rate needs to hover just above two children per couple (2.35, to be exact). But even a slight increase in that two-child rate could cause the population to soar to 11 billion.

Now, regardless of your stance on abortion, denying widespread access to education and contraception in the face of these concerns seems counter-productive to say the least. American family planning assistance does not — and has never — funded abortions. The 1973 Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act already prohibits funding abortion overseas. No violations have ever been reported.

The gag rule would also undoubtedly be ruled unconstitutional in the United States. Several court decisions have determined the conditioning of federal funds on adherence to such a requirement over how private funds are used violates free speech protections.

And family planning can work. It did in Kenya. The nation was a prime example of population explosion in the 1970s before AIDS threw off the demographic curve. Decades of family planning had dropped the fertility rate from seven to four children.

But the gag rule has forced budget cuts to women’s health care providers in Kenya. Clinics have closed. Staff has been laid off. These clinics were often the sole source of contraception and healthcare for the area. As result, the fertility rate has inched back up to five children per woman — and of the 34 million people; a whopping 65 percent are under age 25. Imagine all of them having 5 to 7 children in the next few years and you begin to see how models are predicting 11 billion.

In the end, it comes down to a cultural perspective. Because contraception inevitably leads to discussion of abortion, the preventative measure to such necessary population control policies are derailed. A “culture of life” sounds like a nice utopia, but what kind of life is it breeding? Our gag rule is certainly not the only contributing factor to blooming populations, but it’s not helping.

And not controlling this problem seems like a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot as the world’s most powerful nation.

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Tags: Nonfiction · ·

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