Cizik is Wrong on Contraception and Overpopulation

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of The Christian Post or its editors.

Sadly, my friend Rich Cizik is wrong, both about contraception and overpopulation.

Chemical contraception would not be the answer to mythical “overpopulation,” even if that problem actually existed. In his study of the effect of judicial rulings on the access of minors to family planning services in the U.K., David Paton (2002) reports, “I am unable to find any evidence that family planning has reduced either conception or abortion rates. Indeed, there is some evidence that family planning provision has been associated with an increase in conception rates for [girls under 16].” (Paton, David, “The Economics of Family Planning and Underage Conceptions,” Journal of Health Economics 21: 207-225, 2002.)

Family planning programs that market contraception to teenagers not only undermine the right of parents regarding the upbringing of their children but are associated with an increase in sexual activity that leads to both greater abortion and birth rates, as documented by such scholars as Thomas J. Kane and Douglas Staiger (Kane, Thomas J., and Douglas Staiger, “Teen Motherhood and Abortion Access,” QJE, 111(2): 467-506, May 1996). Similarly, studies out of Sweden, the United Kingdom and Spain all conclude that increased use of contraceptives correlates with an increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and abortions.

As importantly, the world is not “overpopulated.” According to the U.N.’s Population Division, “Perhaps the most significant demographic change over the past three decades has been the substantial decline in fertility in all areas of the world. Since 1970-1975 world total fertility has declined by 37 percent: from 4.5 births per woman to the 1995-2000 level of 2.8.” (“Fertility Levels and Trends in Countries with Intermediate Levels of Fertility")

A major factor in all of this is the “war against girls” in the developing world. As Science Magazine writer Mara Hvistendahl’s book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men documents, the U.N. Population Fund has provided funding such that, in total, 160 million Asian women have been aborted in recent decades, and the demographic trends in Europe indicate a virtually irreversible population decline See:  FRC blogs on Chinese Gendercide  and Arab Europe.

Moreover, many of those who advocate population reduction in the developing world also oppose the introduction of such things as hybrid grains and electrification that could save tens of millions of lives. In the words of Nobel Prize winning agronomist Norman Borlaug, “most Western environmentalists ‘have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things.’” 

Neither birth control through ready access to chemical contraception nor an anti-natalist approach to population will address either the material or spiritual challenges facing our world. Rather, advancing the sanctity of life through economic policies that enlarge, instead of contract, the global food supply and that defend personhood both within the womb and outside of it are not only within our reach, but are identifiably Christian. Those who profess the Name above all names should fight for them.