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WaPo Op-Ed Aims To Normalize Talk Of Population Control

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Nick Givas Media And Politics Reporter
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 The Washington Post published an op-ed Wednesday by Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy president Frances Kissling that encouraged people to talk more openly about population control.

“Fifty years ago, Paul Ehrlich’s bestseller ‘The Population Bomb’ predicted that the world’s population would double in less than 35 years — a frightening speed,” she wrote in the article. “The book had a major impact but spurred a backlash that made almost any further discussion of population radioactive.” (RELATED: Berkeley Calls For Population Control)

It’s still taboo to talk openly about population control due to the highly controversial methods suggested in the past, Kissling said. She also blamed the women of the feminist movement for not talking about it enough.

“Feminists also contributed significantly to the taboo by urging a shift away from policies focused on population control to policies supportive of reproductive health and rights,” Kissling wrote. “Both feminists and population stabilization advocates now agree that providing reproductive health services to women is first and foremost a right in itself.”

She also wrote about reducing fertility in African countries, and then pivoted to the dangers of climate change.

“Many African family-planning advocates are concerned because society with rapid population growth means many dependent children for each adult,” Kissling said. “If fertility were reduced, there would be fewer children and more adults able to work.”

“Prospects of African prosperity are also threatened by climate change,” she continued. “In regions that are already hot and arid, higher temperatures will make prolonged outdoor physical labor almost impossible and will also increase evaporation, further reducing already strained water resources.”

Kissling’s solution to the problem of population control is to make birth control even easier to access and expand abortion options for women who wish to terminate their pregnancy.

“Melinda Gates has shown one way of doing this, by focusing on making contraceptives more readily available to the 214 million women who do not want to become pregnant over the next two years but do not have effective preventive methods,” the article reads. “Equally important is providing women with access to emergency contraception following unprotected sex and making safe abortion available to women who need it.”

Kissling doesn’t once mention men to discuss their role in population control and said it’s up to girls and women to take control of the numbers so they can tackle the challenge of fertility.

“A central part of every discussion about population must be educating girls and women and ensuring opportunities for their participation in work and political life,” Kissling wrote. “Women need more options to take control of their fertility and lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.”

“The conversation about ethics, population and reproduction needs to shift from the perspective of white donor countries to the places and ­people most affected by poverty, climate change and environmental degradation,” she concluded.

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