LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - World leaders are pushing a false narrative on population control in the wake of World Population Day, an annual United Nations commemoration devoted to "the urgency and importance of population issues."
In support of this year's theme, "Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations," population program supporters held coordinated awareness events in dozens of developing countries.
To some analysts, a particular sense of urgency seemed to permeate this year's commemoration, and certainly, President Trump's pledged withdrawal of $600 million in U.S. taxpayer funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) was a prominent topic of discussion.
Speaking at the Family Planning Summit in London, billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates lamented, "This is a difficult political climate for family planning. I'm deeply troubled, as I'm sure you are, by the Trump administration's proposed budget slash."
In her opening address, Gates, a self-described Catholic, declared contraception "one of the greatest anti-poverty innovations the world has ever known."
"Contraceptives," she claimed, "empower women."
In a statement to Church Militant, Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, a nonprofit research group dedicated to exposing the myth of overpopulation, reflected, "These people have never seen a government program that they didn't embrace — from massive spending (and taxes) to stop 'Global Warning,' to radically expanded government to provide socialized shelter, food, and medical care (how's that working out in Venezuela?), to radically equalized incomes, to huge wealth transfers between North and South."
In a Center for Family and Human Rights (CFHR) article published Friday, Dr. Susan Yoshihara, Senior Vice President for Research at CFHR, observed that the principle argument of the population lobby is the "demographic dividend," by which fewer children will yield greater wealth and opportunity. In short, the argument is: Contraception and abortion are essential to empowering women — they are essential to solving the population crisis.
But even as as population control advocates push forward with calls for more funding for international contraception and abortion advocacy, critics point out that the facts on the ground don't match the rhetoric streaming from the podiums. Where, they ask, is the crisis?
Birthrates are collapsing, a phenomenon demographer Philip Longman warns is threatening world prosperity. In most areas of Europe, population numbers are in full retreat. The United States has seen its birthrate hit an all-time-low in 2017. Japan is enduring the same. China, which to population activists epitomizes the ravages of "overpopulation," is suffering a demographic crisis; its population is aging faster than any on earth.
As in years past, advocates pointed to the 1960s–1990s Asian Tigers as evidence that the theory works. The reference had the alternative effect of highlighting the fact that there are no other examples beyond the Tigers. Latin American and Middle Eastern nations, who enacted similar policies, did not get the same boost in economic growth. In Europe, industrialization was not the result of smaller families, but rather the opposite was true."
But the evidence is disregarded by the population lobby. They pressed on Tuesday, calling for increased action and more money to fight "overpopulation."
From the Family Planning Summit in London, Canada's Minister of International Development, Marie-Claude Bibeau, defended her government's decision to allocate five times as much money for contraception and abortion programs than for hunger relief, calling abortion "a tool to end poverty."
In London, Denmark's Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tornaes, announced her government would increase spending on family planning in developing countries, suggesting such programs could "limit the migration pressure on Europe."
And in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation urged the country's leaders to declare a population "state of emergency."
But Nigeria is pushing back. As Yohishara notes in her article, Joachin Ulasi, director of Nigeria's National Population Commission in Anambra State, is rejecting the notion that his country is overpopulated.
"We are lucky to be middle-heavy," he remarked. "If you go to Britain, you will notice that they have top-heavy population which means that they have more old people. In Nigeria, we have more young people who are productive and that shows that our population is of quality, and if we manage our population well, Nigeria will be able to produce what it needs as a nation."