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The Population Control Controversy

By Matt Abbott

During the last three decades, the issue of overpopulation – or perceived overpopulation - has been discussed in various capacities. The primary instigators of these discussions have been the radical environmentalists, the radical animal rights activists, and certain wealthy elites in our Western society. All of these groups more or less assert that human beings are destroying the planet. There are too many of us, they say. Hence, we must utilize “family planning” (read: abortion, contraception, sterilization), even in a coercive manner, to limit the number of people born into the world.

As a result of this elitist, anti-life mentality, also known as the “contraceptive mentality,” several countries, including the U.S., are steeped in what the late Pope John Paul II called a culture of death. In third world countries, abortion, contraception and sterilization seemingly abound; yet the most basic needs of food, clean water and medicine are often lacking. Why is this so? It would seem that international organizations such as the United Nations and Planned Parenthood are more interested in reducing the population of those less fortunate than in working to promote authentic economic development in developing countries.

The main questions involving this matter, I submit, are these: Is the world indeed overpopulated? What can be done to promote economic development and responsible parenthood in a way that is morally acceptable to virtually everyone?

The assertion that the world is overpopulated is essentially a myth. In a January 29, 2005 address given by Cesare Bonivento, Roman Catholic bishop of Papua New Guinea, at the Family Life International Symposium held in Papua New Guinea (see, Bishop Bonivento cited a 2003 report issued by the United Nations Population Division warning that “future fertility levels in most developing countries will likely fall below 2.1 children per woman, the level needed to ensure the long-term replacement of the population. By 2050, the UN document says, three out of every four countries in the less developed regions will be experiencing below-replacement fertility, with all developed countries far below replacement level as well.”

Bishop Bonivento continued: “The deeper reductions in fertility will have as a consequence a faster aging of the population of developing countries, and this aging will stress social security systems. Globally, the number of older persons (60 years or over) will nearly triple, increasing from 606 million in 2000 to nearly 1.9 billion by 2050.”

Interestingly, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released a report in 2004 predicting “that the world's population will increase by almost 40% by 2050, to 8.9 billion inhabitants” and that “such a demographic increase is an obstacle for development and for the environment.”

Bishop Bonivento gave the following observation for the aforementioned contradictory report: “Why such an evidently contradictory evaluation? Because the warnings of the other UN agencies and of the demographers are jeopardizing UNFPA's effort to curb the population with any means, including legal abortion. UNFPA is the agency supporting the Chinese one-child policy, which includes forced abortion for women having a second child.”

Now, what can be done to foster economic development in third world countries? According to Dr. Brian Clowes, author and researcher for Human Life International (, such a program would: “provide basic health care and prenatal care to women and children, thereby dramatically reducing infant mortality rates; build road systems and bridges to remote areas, thus promoting regional economic self-sufficiency; help break down artificial economic barriers, such as family-run utility monopolies and overly complicated procedures for securing permits in order to start small businesses, thereby stimulating healthy competition; improve agricultural production with rural electrification, mechanization and adequate grain storage, thereby improving nutrition; provide clean running water to villages, reducing endemic diseases; and provide basic education to those who are not receiving it.” (The Facts of Life, 1997, p. 311 – 312)

Finally, the widespread promotion of natural family planning, also known as natural fertility regulation, is vital, as it is “morally acceptable to all religions and cultures” (Clowes, p. 97). Information on natural family planning can be found on the following websites:,


Matt Abbott
  IL, US
Matt Abbott - Author, 



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1 - 3 of 3 Comments

  1. Tathiane L.
    4 years ago

    Thank you very much for sharing this information!
    I am so tired to hear that the world is overpopulated and the society needs abortion. How come we can need abortion?? I think we need love (=life) and no more selfshiness (=culture of death).

  2. Aaron
    5 years ago

    Michael, I believe Matt Abbott's claim of elitism refers to his phrase '...even in a coercive manner...'. An expansion of this sentence may include forced abortions(1.) , and forced sterilization (4.).

    Interestingly, despite a supposed 45% of the population believing abortion should be illegal(2.), the people are taxed to fund abortions, mainly through Planned Parenthood, and now internationally(3.). Obama's science adviser John Holden's textbook's considerations of forced sterilization and abortions, though he currently claims he would never did nor will support this method.

    It should also be noted that a common definition for 'natural resources' is defined relative to the existence of man: “naturally occurring materials such as coal, fertile land, etc., that can be used by man”(6.). I understand this to mean that 'natural resources' and thus 'overpopulation' are a technology dependent.

    Most Catholics (and I assume many other religions) decide the fundamental value of human life before they decide whether what they have in the pockets is sufficient for current needs. Should someone highly value human life, overpopulation would not be just myth, but verges on oxymoronic. In this case, abortion, like cannibalism, would be the last resort to other methods not threatening human life.

    As to his referencing the UN document, '2003 report issued by the United Nations Population Division', he specifically indicated less developing countries, so at the time it couldn't be related to your US population argument, thus I did not seek that document. It should also be noted that the U.S. has a positive immigration rate(7., 8.)., thus birth/population rates could less controversially be influenced by controlling immigration.

  3. Michael Doran
    6 years ago

    Talk about elitist! The author of this article would have trouble explaining why even a moderate estimate (by the US Census Bureau) predicts a population increase in the US by about 50% by 2050. Is he kidding that excessive population is a myth? What nonsense! Human population and development are taking a severe toll on the planet's natural resources and ability for self-cleansing. What good would it do if US citizens reduced their carbon and pollutant impact by 50% per capita if our population increases by 50%. the author needs to read more and become more objective and questioning regarding this ridiculous doctrine. Like many things that the "astray" catholic church says today, you cannot think about it, you just need to take it on faith.

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