Potomac Fever is the blog of the Hamilton College Semester in Washington Program.
our government advocates family planning for the poor in our country. President Bush (and every U.S President in recent decades I assume) advocated for family planning in places like Africa. Just saying...
I was not aware. It just seems kind of messed up.
it definitely seems weird- but family planning is kind of a bad term for it. Basically (in theory), family planning is supposed to provide a variety of contraceptive measures and make people aware of the results of their decisions about child-rearing. Granted, some of these scientists are probably radical enough to think that China has the right of it and that limiting family size is necessary for our world. However, many family planning advocates I know hate that idea and think that family choices are obviously personal and not for government or scientist intervention. They just want to make sure that families and individuals have all the options made available to them for determining their reproductive outcomes. Chances are most of these scientists would think a family of nine is large, but they'd acknowledge your family's ability to support them. Theoretically, since U.S. workers have such higher productivity than most foreign counterparts, we'd be entitled to have more children per worker than families in China or Africa for instance (if one wanted to think about in a cold-blooded way, which no one is doing).
Yeah I see what you are saying. I think I interpreted the article initially more along the lines of mandates and encouraging smaller families for everyone. Not really sure where I stand on it after reading your post. I guess in theory it is alright to provide the facts to people, but I worry about the incentives behind targeting poor people. What about a family who will never technically be financially able to raise a child?
no, you're completly right that there are a lot of people who would like to take it that far (limiting family sizes on environmental grounds and such). As of now, they target poor people because generally they are less informed and have fewer options (domestic impoverished or those abroad), and also because of the argument that they are least able to afford having children.As someone who grew up with the pro-life arguments, you'll recognize the parallels between this issue and pro-life issues (Which fyi, shhh... don't tell the others, but I know all the pro-life arguments as well - I worked pro-life booths at fairs through my high school years and I'm still pretty pro-life). Anyways, you'll recognize how the arguments against this targeted family planning for the poor because they can't afford children is similar to the arguments pro-life advocates make against abortion services being so heavily provided to the poor, and also similar to the argument that once you begin devaluing any life (the fetus or the children of the poor), you are devaluing life for everyone and going down a very slippery and dangerous road. Basically I'd say you've put your thumb on the crux of the issue- the first steps seem fine, but a lot of people want to extend the ideas into very dangerous areas.
Among industrialized nations, the U.S. is among the few with a birth rate high enough (without immigration) to sustain population. The native population of Europe is shrinking.
Megan and Patrick,I think both of you are reading way too much into this article and seeing things that are simply not there. The point is that ALL families should have access to contraceptives if they would like them. Nobody is advocating that the poor should have less kids, it is simply that people in poorer countries do not have the same kinds of access to or information about family planning as people in more industrialized countries do. Providing family planning is in no way a value judgment.Patrick, I think you completely miss the point about providing contraceptives in the context of the article Megan posted. You said "Theoretically, since U.S. workers have such higher productivity than most foreign counterparts, we'd be entitled to have more children per worker than families in China or Africa for instance." What? Increased WORLD population is the problem. By having more children, regardless of whether or not you can "afford" them, you are simply adding to the problem of food shortages. I understand your theoretical argument about prohibiting the poor from having kids, but promoting awareness of contraceptives is not some conspiracy to prevent certain people from having kids and allowing others to have as many as they want. The simple fact is most births are not planned and disseminating information about contraceptives at home and abroad is a cost effective and practical way of ensuring that people who do not want kids do not have them.
Planned Parenthood provides a majority of its services to poor individuals. 83% of all abortions are obtained in developing countries and 17% occur in developed countries. Women with family incomes over $60,000 obtain 13.8%. I don't think all these numbers can be attributed to the fact that the poor do not have adequate birth control options as Planned Parenthood is making it easier and easier to obtain birth control. Black women are 3 times more likely to have an abortion than white women, accounting for income. These facts make me wonder if the government targeting poor individuals (and possibly certain races) with family planning and at the same time making abortion services as easy as possible for them (think of where Planned Parenthood services are located) has some ulterior motive. Not entirely convinced, but I don't think it's ridiculous to look into given the statistics.
Most "population control" in Western nations is done through economic incentives. Small changes in tax code and benefits afforded to new parents are the real policy pivot points. In this sense, population control is not a matter of coercion but influence. While I'm sure abortion and birth control education account for some percentage of population control, the shifts we see in Europe (eg) are more a matter of economic circumstances. Even in China, present population control efforts are through stiff economic penalties, not outright coercion.As I see it, the issues of abortion and birth control education are tangential to the population control argument.
Yeah you are probably right although this scientist did advocate family planning as a means of population control. We kind of got on a different tangent regarding birth control and abortion.
Although I still do not like the idea of governments getting involved in such a personal matter.
Right, I think the point is that birth control decisions are for families to make, in response to government policy. Governments are not deciding who uses birth control and when, just encouraging its use through economic incentives.I think you are talking about restrictive birth policies. What about governments encouraging higher growth rates? This is what European countries are doing today. The United States also has strong pro- population growth policies. Marriage affords couples significant legal rights. Families with children get tax breaks. And, for better or for worse, there are many government programs that help parents support children (public school, perhaps?).
Having a child is never in your economic interest (unless you are a poor single mother), so the argument is we should make it even harder economically for people to support children in order to control the population? Nobody is going to benefit economically by having a child whereas those in support of population control taxes wish to make it so that families benefit economically from not having a child even more than they currently would. The programs you named are designed to help people support their children, not to increase the population, whereas population control policies seem to be aimed at only that. If a government is encouraging smaller families through the tax code and parents decide to go against what the government is incentivizing and have a child they would have less financial resources to raise this child therefore giving the child a lower quality of life, which does not seem fair. If, however, a couple decides to go against what the government is "incentivizing" through tax cuts and public schools and not have a child they would still be better off economically than if they had had a child.My point earlier was that governments do seem to be deciding who uses birth control and when by targeting poor people with both the family planning and the abortion fronts.
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