India Limits Babies
India was notorious in the 1970s for its coercive sterilization campaign under Idira Ganghi. But controversial population control programs in India are not a thing of the past. Although there is no nationwide population control policy, many of India’s states are adopting restrictive policies with the approval of the Indian parliament, who are happy to impose policies on others that they do not enforce on themselves. Six states passed laws restricting village council members to two children. In other areas, this law applies to all government employees. Some districts report that more than 100 council members have lost their jobs because they had more than two children.
Some states have turned to positive incentives, also coercive, offering higher pay and land or housing for government employees having two or fewer children. India’s birthrate has plummeted from 6 to less than 3 children per woman in the last 50 years, but this isn’t enough for those who think the rate should be only at the replacement level of 2.1. As in China, in India there is a historic preference for male children. This has led to a serious problem of female infanticide in India, a problem that will only be exacerbated by these laws.
The New York Times interviewed one man, Dev Lal Gajpal, whose wife will lose her position as head of the village council because they had a fourth child. He believes that the laws will “deprive the village and even the country of future leaders.” by assuming that those who have more children are unfit leaders. He and his wife considered aborting their last child, so that his wife would not lose her job, but decided against it. “We are Hindus.” he said. “There is a notion that if you go for abortion, it is like murder.”
(Amy Waldman, “States in India Take New Steps to Limit Births,” The New York Times, 7 November 2003)
The first lady of Uganda, Janet Museveni spoke out strongly in favor of abstinence at a recent youth conference. Mrs. Museveni told 2000 youth gathered at the 13th annual Uganda Youth Conference held in January in Kampala, “You do not need sex at your age, Wait until you are married. You can choose to fight AIDS by saying no and being able to stay alive.” She added that a personal relationship with God would assist them in remaining abstinence, despite peer pressure.
At the same gathering, the gender, labor and social development minister Zoe Bakoko told youth to use the ABC plan — Abstinence, Being faithful, and Condom use — but to put character formation in the place of condom use.
(Herbert Sempogo, “You Don’t Need Sex, Janet Tells Youths,” New Vision, 8 January 2004; Richard Kavuma, “First Lady Tips Youth on AIDS,” The Monitor, 8 January 2004, both quoted in LifeSiteNews.com, 12 January 2004)
Health officials in Washington, D.C, recently announced a controversial new plan to install free condom dispensers in government offices. The 50 dispensers will be placed in public areas of the D.C. Housing Authority, and the Department of Motor Vehicles, among other venues. They are intended to reach members of the public and not city employees. Ivan O. Torres, interim director of the city’s HIV/AIDS Administration said that the dispensers will be, “as common as water fountains.” The plan calls for the distribution of 550,000 male condoms, 45,000 latex dental dams, and 30,000 female condoms over the next year. The public school system already distributes 50,000 condoms a year.
(Avram Goldstein, “District to Offer Condoms For Free,” Washington Post, 2 December 2003)
Not Enough Babies in Italy
Nowhere in the world is the birth dearth more obvious than in Italy. Not only is its population the oldest in the world, but its birthrate is the lowest. One small Italian town has reached the point of desperation. Reuters reports that there were only four new mothers in the town of Laviano last year. The total population is 1,600, significantly smaller than it was in the year 1970 when there were 3000 people living in Laviano, and 70 babies born. In order to combat the problem, Laviano Mayor Rocco Falivena is offering payments of 10,000 euros ($11,900), spread out over six years, to every couple who has a baby.
Italy is considering a country-wide baby bonus for 2004, which would give 1000 euros ($1200) to couples having a second child. It is unclear whether 1000 euros will be enough of an incentive. Guiseppe Gesano, editor of Demotrends, doesn’t believe it will be. “Italians are not so poor that a one-off payment of 1,000 euros is going to make them have children,” he stated. Interestingly, Italian women want at least two children, but only have an average of 1.2. Italian women delay childbirth for education or a career and then have perhaps just one child. The Italian demographic research organization IRPPS predicts there will be three to four deaths for every birth in Italy by the middle of the century.
(“Italian town offers $11,900 per baby,” Reuters, 3 December 2003)