Tuesday, October 26th 2010

More on reproductive choice

Just a quick link I want to share today to Martin Robbins’s blog The Lay Scientist over at The Guardian. He has a guest post written by @naomimc that describes, more elegantly than I have, the importance of reproductive choice. Entitled “Where are the women in the ‘population control’ debate?” her post demonstrates how the conversation around population control, particularly in circles devoted to the ecological impact of human populations, seems to be devoid of women, or at least controlled by men.

One of my favorite passages is here:

The green movement is often, wrongfully, accused of misanthropy. “They care more about trees than people”, screech the professional oppositionists. But the obsession with population control by a minority of greens opens them up to very legitimate accusations of authoritarianism, ‘classism’ (i.e. it’s the poor we want to stop having babies) and gender-blindness. It is a paradigm dominated by elite men which spectacularly misses the point and ignores the evidence that actually protecting sexual and reproductive rights and empowering women to control their own fertility results in lower birth rates and importantly, lower death rates.

No one who works in maternal and reproductive health talks of ‘population control’. For historical and contemporary reasons it is associated with eugenics, China’s one-child policy, forced sterilisation and forced abortion. These morally abhorrent examples might be dismissed as extremes but they are simply the results of a way of thinking about reproduction which is coercive and rejects individual rights as fundamental to public policy. (my emphasis)

Go read the post.

1 Comment

  1. Lindsay said:


    I also think reproductive choice and lower birthrates go hand in hand — I saw a study somewhere (I'd have to look it up again to remember who wrote it when and what the details were) that found that when women were able to control their reproductive destinies, they had fewer children, regardless of what type of society they lived in.

    This contradicted what I'd read earlier, about the economics of having children, where people in agrarian societies have more kids because of the free labor, while people in urban, industrial societies have fewer because kids are expensive in that context. But this article seemed to say that, under *either* set of conditions, female choice = fewer children.

    I find that amazingly uplifting; it certainly gives me hope that we can greatly reduce the number of people being born without resorting to coercive policies like China's.

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