Do you guys worry about the human population? Because I do. There are a lot of us, and that is going to be a problem.
Population-growth is in decline in Europe and in Japan, as people (particularly women) gain more bodily and financial autonomy, focus more upon their lives and careers, and make more responsible choices when planning their families.
But that is not the case everywhere. And it’s a problem.
Did you read about how Israel may have sterilized some Ethiopian refugees without their permission or knowledge? Because I did. It is a little difficult to find a new source that is not either uncomfortable with levying the accusation, a source with a reputation for paranoid conspiracy-theories, or a news source with anti-Semitic leanings.
Just hearing the headline reminded me of two things: the first was an episode of Law & Order in which a doctor who worked at a free clinic in the inner city would occasionally implant IUDs in women whom she determined to be less-than-ideal potential parents. She did this without their permission or their knowledge (I say “less-than-ideal,” but one of the young women poured boiling water on a baby that she had already had, so don’t worry that this woman was sterilizing women whom she thought would feed their babies inorganic food or let them watch too much television). I was torn in that episode—I mean, I am a strong supporter of female reproductive rights, and that does not mean just supporting a woman’s unquestionable right to contraception and to abortion.
The “what would I do if I were in charge” question is a bit moot when it comes to how I would prosecute the IUD-happy doctor. The only case that I can make for forced sterilization is in cases of an abusive parent, and if I were in charge, no parent whom I knew to be abusive would be alive, much less free to get pregnant again. Am I okay with a vigilante who secretly sterilizes child-abusers? Absolutely. Is that a reliable rule for anything or how policies should be set? No. Does that mean that I am okay with refugees being sterilized? Absolutely not.
The second thing that came to mind was the larger question of population-control. I mean, it should be voluntary. There are organizations, such as Population Action International, that work to bring reproductive health services to developing nations. Now, I support this organization (um, in spirit—not financially, as that is so not in my budget at the moment). Their stated mission is to “ensure that every person has the right and access to sexual and reproductive health, so that humanity and the natural environment can exist in balance with fewer people living in poverty.” This is wonderful. It’s great from a human rights standpoint. It’s great from an environmental standpoint.
That said, organizations such as this one (I am not levying specific accusations, of course) represent an unlikely marriage of three different groups—feminists (and others interested in human rights), environmentalists (healthy families help make a healthy planet), and racists who believe that non-whites (and, realistically, many of those in developing nations are not white) continuing to reproduce in large numbers “endangers the white race.” Guess which one of those groups horrifies me?
I, however, am the sort of person who will take money from bad people if it will do a good thing. Working to combat poverty, disease, world hunger, and suffering? Yes, I will accept money from crazy people for that kind of cause. But I think that education and access to health care, particularly something as crucial as reproductive health care, is the key to making our planet a better place. Ideally, one that is no longer a home to racists.
What do you guys think?