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Innocents Betrayed: A side of family planning the White House does not discuss

The purpose of this Population Research Institute (PRI) report is to
respond to the assumptions and conclusions contained in President
Clinton’s Finding of January 31, 1997, entitled “The Impact of
Delaying USAID Population Funding from March to July 1997:
Justification for a Presidential Determination on Section 518A(a) of
the FY97 Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs
Appropriations Act,” hereafter referred to as the Finding.

The Population Research Institute has five primary objections to the conclusions reached in the President’s Finding, as follows;

(1) Reallocation of USAID population control funding to authentic economic development would save the lives of thousands of women and children.

(2) Population control programs are actually detrimental to the countries listed in the President’s finding.

(3) The USAID population control program appears to be motivated by safeguarding U.S. economic interests, not the health and safety of the women and young children of developing countries.

(4) USAID funds help promote abortion throughout the developing world, by funding pro-abortion organizations such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

(5) The President’s Finding uses outdated population projections to reach its conclusions.

The basis for these objections are documented herein.

The Allegations

The President’s Finding states that “Increases in unintended pregnancies and abortions would be inevitable … The consequences would be increased unintended pregnancies, more abortions, higher numbers of maternal and infant deaths, and, of course, more births” (pages 1 and 3). It also states as fact that “… most of all, the health and well-being of women, men and children who are beneficiaries of U.S. assistance would be severely threatened” (page 1).

These conclusions appear to be drawn from the January 1997 Rockefeller Foundation report entitled High Stakes: The United States, Global Population and Our Common Future.

High Stakes alleges that:

  • The cuts in population assistance have had devastating and immediate effects. A group of five leading U.S. research organizations (The Alan Guttmacher Institute, The Futures Group, Population Action International and Population Reference Bureau, in consultation with The Population Council) has estimated the effects. In just one year:

  • 7 million couples in developing countries will lose access to modern contraceptives, resulting in 4 million unplanned pregnancies;

  • 1.6 million of those pregnancies will end in abortion;

  • 8,000 more women will die in pregnancy and childbirth; and

  • 134,000 more infants will die as a result of an increase in
    high-risk births.”

High Stakes merely repeats the figures first published in an Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) Memorandum of March 6, 1996, entitled “Estimate of Number of Additional Abortions, Maternal Deaths and Infant Deaths Resulting from a 35% Cut in USAID Funding for Family Planning for All Countries Excluding China.”

Problems With the Allegation

To begin with, the amount of money being contested in March 1996 was $190 million, and the amount of money currently at stake is $123 million ) about one-third less. Yet the Rockefeller Foundation merely repeats the numbers found in the AGI memorandum.

This reveals an extremely important failing of the President’s Finding, because it is based on the Rockefeller Foundation and Population Council reports: No new research has been performed to buttress its conclusions. In other words, the Finding simply regurgitates the previous figures without regard for changing conditions or the facts.

On March 18, 1996, the Population Research Institute published an analysis of the AGI memorandum. The PRI report found that the AGI memorandum was fatally flawed in its assumptions and calculations, thereby rendering its conclusions meaningless. For example, the AGI completely disregarded the effects of the more than 400,000 contraceptive failures that would occur among users if the 35% funding cut were restored, and it grossly overestimated both maternal and infant mortality rates in developing countries. These and other basic errors had a cumulative effect that led AGI to overestimate by 81% the total number of unwanted pregnancies that would occur as a result of a 35% cut in USAID population programs. This, in turn, led AGI to overestimate by 121% the numbers of maternal deaths and infant deaths that would allegedly occur due to the March 1996 funding cuts.

Reallocation to Maternal and Infant Health Care

More importantly, the PRI report showed that a reallocation of the contested $190 million to prenatal and infant care in the poorest nations would save the lives of 94,671 women and children, or 30,483 more than would be saved if the money were given to USAID for population control programs.

The PRI report concluded that if the contested $190 million were disbursed for population purposes, instead of being used for prenatal and infant care, more than 30,000 women and children would die as a result. Because the impacts of reallocation are directly proportional to the amount of money reallocated, if the contested $123 million were disbursed for population purposes, instead of being used for prenatal and infant care, about 20,000 women and children would die as a result.

Even more lives would be saved if this funding were redirected into other bona fide health care programs such as providing vitamin supplements or vaccinations to poor children around the world. UNICEF estimates that 2.1 million children each are dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, and that Vitamen A supplements could avert an estimated 1-2 millions deaths each year.

The March 18, 1996 Population Institute Review response to the Alan Guttmacher Institute report is available from the Population Research Institute upon request.

Reallocation to Infrastructure Development

It is often said that “economic development is the best contraceptive.” This means that, when modern equipment and basic health care are available to rural people, they don’t have to have many children in order to work the fields, to insure that some children survive, or to take care of them when they are old and infirm. Additionally, as a nation develops, young people tend to marry later and have their first child later as well.

Construction of basic infrastructure in developing countries would not only bring the population growth rate down, it would improve the quality of life of the people dramatically.

The total present worth of USAID population control expenditures since 1964 has been $10,679,523,000 in current (February 1997) dollars.1 If this money had been reallocated towards infrastructure construction in developing countries, it would have at least:

  • Brought electricity and clean drinking water to 2,000 of the
    most remote villages, thereby cutting down the source of most
    disease and increasing production towards self- sufficiency.

It is too late now, of course, to “take back” the more than ten billion dollars that have been squandered on population control and reallocate it to authentic economic development. However, it is not too late to reallocate this year’s USAID funding to purposes that will strengthen entire nations, instead of merely turning big poor families into small poor families.


Pages 11 through 14 of the President’s Finding lists fifteen specific countries that would allegedly suffer detrimental effects caused by cuts in the USAID population program.

The introductory paragraph on page 11 claims that “all of the countries listed below are experiencing rapid population growth, with annual rates of growth exceeding 2 percent. The exceptions are Turkey, where the annual growth rate is 1.6 percent, and Russia and the Ukraine, which both have low fertility but extremely high abortion rates.”

To begin with, the President’s finding uses population growth rates that are more than a decade old, and therefor greatly overestimate the actual current rates. It claims that twelve of the fifteen countries listed have annual population growth rates exceeding 2.0 percent; in reality, only six of them do.2

More specifically and to the point, every one of the countries listed in the President’s Finding have been harmed by United States population control efforts, as described below. If the US government is truly concerned about the health of women and infants, it should conduct an independent review of USAID population control programs in recipient countries using bona fide health care professionals who have no relationship with, or interest in, the continuation of such programs. Such a review would, we believe, reach the conclusion that USAID population control programs should be terminated and the funds redirected to maternal and infant child care and authentic economic development.

It would be impossible to list all of the incidents of the extraordinary damage inflicted upon the people and cultures of developing countries by US-funded population programs.We have selected four of the countries listed in the President’s Finding which exemplify certain negative consequences of such programs. Similar ill effects could be adduced for virtually all the developing nations which have been targeted for population control.

  • Bolivia. Bolivia’s problem is not
    overpopulation, but underpopulation. The current total population of
    the country is 8,230,000 persons in an area of 1,089,581 square
    kilometers, for a population density of only 8 persons per square
    kilometer, compared to Europe’s 103 persons per square kilometer.
    The total fertility rate has plunged from 7.3 children per woman in
    1965 to 4.2 children per woman currently, a drop of 42 percent.2
    Such a large decrease in such a short time will inevitably lead to
    massive strains on Bolivia’s social security system, as fewer and
    fewer wage earners support more and more retired persons, and the
    population pyramid becomes inverted. In addition, Bolivia currently
    experiences significant labor shortages, suffering particularly from
    a lack of able-bodied workers to develop its mineral resources.
  • Haiti. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Horizon
    Television Show “The Human Laboratory” of November 7, 1995, the
    United States has a long and dishonorable history of using Haitian
    women as guinea-pigs for the testing of new contraceptives. USAID
    has carried out Norplant testing in Cite Soleil, one of the poorest
    communities in Haiti. Norplant insertions were done without the
    informed consent of the women concerned. Norplant removals were
    denied or delayed, even to women who suffered extremely severe side
    effects such as bleeding extensive enough to cause anemia or
    paralyzing headaches. Women who complained were verbally abused by
    clinic personnel. Complications were not recorded, in what the BBC
    suggested was an effort to ensure a positive outcome for the drug
    trial. Such blatant violations of human rights not only hurts poor
    women, it helps to ensure that all future USAID-funded programs will
    be viewed with a jaundiced eye.
  • Mexico. The total fertility rate among Mexican
    women has plummeted from 8.2 children per woman in 1965 to 2.7
    children per woman currently, a drop of 67 percent . This is the
    second highest in Latin America, behind Jamaica’s 69 percent.2
    Mexico’s social security system is already coming under intense
    strain, because the current generation is much smaller than the
    previous one, leading to first a diamond-shaped population pyramid
    and then an inverted population pyramid, indicating a rapidly
    greying population. This situation is exacerbated by massive
    emigration, both legal and illegal, of able-bodied young people to
    the United States and other countries.

The last sentence of this subparagraph of the President’s Finding
exposes the true motivation behind U.S. population programs in Mexico:
“If USAID cannot meet its funding commitments, not only would programs
suffer, but US credibility would be damaged as would US ability to
leverage Mexican resources in the future.”

  • Philippines. One of the largest beneficiaries of
    USAID funds is the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF),
    which has been relentlessly promoting abortion in the Philippines for
    more than thirty years in flagrant disregard for the nation’s customs,
    laws and religious beliefs. The following extract from a Hastings
    Center Report article shows how the IPPF assists groups in
    circumventing the laws of developing countries, while systematically
    covering up such activities:

The International Planned Parenthood Federation of London (IPPF)
has been the most outspoken advocate of legal abortion services in the
developing countries … As a central body it receives funds from
international donors, including AID [the United States Agency for
International Development], and passes money and supplies along to the
local associations … The IPPF’s stated position is that abortion
should be legally available to those who desire it and that local
associations, when possible, should assist in providing the necessary
services …

In the Philippines, where abortion is both illegal and explicitly
against official population policy, the IPPF provided 200 ‘menstrual
regulation’ [first trimester abortion] kits for demonstration purposes
… Further controversy arose when the FPOP [the IPPF affiliate,
Family Planning Organization of the Philippines] distributed
‘menstrual regulation’ kits to local doctors. Although the
government had laws specifically prohibiting the importation of
abortive devices, these kits were brought into the country as
‘medical instruments’ to obtain ‘sample tissue for examination.’
These examples show the potential of the IPPF and its collaborating
organizations for circumventing national laws and policies …

One of IPPF’s largest projects, totalling about $62,000, was in Bangladesh, where 5,000 vacuum aspiration kits were provided to the local family planning association. These kits have also been supplied to Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and India. Although most of these projects have been relatively small – usually under $30,000 – the IPPF has not provided details of its activities in its published reports, even in its main report to donor agencies. One reason, apart from the illegal and controversial nature of these activities, may be that the federation is under constant scrutiny from the U.S. government to insure that it is not violating the Helms Amendment.3

The IPPF’s abortion agenda in the Philippines was recently exposed by the head of its local affiliate, the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP). Ramon Tagle, a well-known Manila attorney and President of FPOP, resigned in protest over what he called IPPF’s “hidden agenda” on abortion and its continuing efforts to use FPOP as a trojan horse to legalize abortion in his country.

Senator Juan Flavier recently criticized IPPF and the United States when he said that “We had just celebrated our 50th anniversary of independence from America, but we can still see insidious methods of imperialism trying to subvert our self-determination by using [population control] funds as subtle leverage … I strongly oppose abortion. It is prohibited by our laws and the Philippine Constitution. Hence, we should be prepared to lose foreign funding rather than be pressured into causing the death of unborn children.”4

By funding the IPPF through USAID, the United States is providing financial support to an organization which advocates, as a first principle, the worldwide legalization of abortion, even if this means violating the national sovereignty and undermining the traditional values and cultural norms of developing countries. Our support for such insensitive policies resurrects the specter of the “ugly American,” and impedes genuine efforts to assist in the economic development of other nations.

The President’s Finding states that “Progress toward global population stabilization has been recognized as vital to U.S. foreign policy interests for the past three decades.”

These “foreign policy interests” are principally strategic and economic in nature and are described in the National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 200 of April 24, 1974, subject: “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.”

Chapter III of NSSM 200, entitled “Minerals and Fuel,” states that:

Whether through government action, labor conflicts, sabotage, or
civil disturbance, the smooth flow of needed materials will be
jeopardized. Although population pressure is obviously not the
only factor involved, these types of frustrations are much less
likely under conditions of slow or zero population growth … The
U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals
from abroad, especially from less developed countries [See
National Commission on Materials Policy, Towards a National
Materials Policy: Basic Data and Issues, April 1972]. That fact
gives the U.S. enhanced interest in the political, economic, and
social stability of the supplying countries. Wherever a lessening
of population pressures through reduced birth rates can increase
the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes
relevant to resource supplies and to the economic interests of the
United States.

Part Two of NSSM 200, entitled “Policy Recommendations,” states that:

It is vital that the effort to develop and strengthen a
commitment on the part of the LDC [less developed countries] leaders
not be seen by them as an industrialized country policy to keep
their strength down or to reserve resources for use by the “rich”
countries. Development of such a perception could create a serious
backlash adverse to the cause of population stability …

The conclusion of this view is that mandatory [population control]
programs may be needed and that we should be considering these
possibilities now … On what basis should such food resources then
be provided? Would food be considered an instrument of national
power? Will we be forced to make choices as to whom we can
reasonably assist, and if so, should population efforts be a
criterion for such assistance? … we should recognize that those
who argue along ideological lines have made a great deal of the fact
that the U.S. contribution to development programs and health
programs has steadily shrunk, whereas funding for population
programs has steadily increased.

These statements infer that a large population in a lesser-developed countries (LDCs) leads to a strong international presence that is not easily manipulated. The United States, in order to maintain the flow of raw materials from these countries, must be certain that their populations are “stabilized” through “lessening of population pressures through reduced birth rates.” LDC leaders must not see this effort as a form of imperialism by developed countries, so USAID and other government agencies funnel funds and resources through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Pathfinder Fund, and various United Nations organs such as the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). These population control programs may even be made compulsory in the future (as they are now in the People’s Republic of China), and aid in the form of medical assistance or food may be made contingent upon acceptance of population control measures that desperate countries and peoples would not otherwise accept.

Although the President’s Finding does not baldly state its intentions, it still hints that its primary motivation is the preservation of U.S. economic options overseas. For instance, it says that “If USAID cannot meet its funding commitments, not only would programs suffer, but US credibility would be damaged as would US ability to leverage Mexican resources in the future.”

The Finding also says that “If a nine-month funding delay occurs in FY97, there could be serious contraceptive shortages … as well as potential loss of jobs at one or more of USAID’s contraceptive manufacturers in Alabama, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania … That would result in disruptions in condom shipments to field programs and require the manufacturer to lay off most of the 200 workers dedicated to USAID contract production” (pages 15 and 16).

These statements bear a family resemblance to certain assertions contained in the Rockefeller Foundation’s January 1997 report entitled High Stakes: The United States, Global Population and Our Common Future. Beginning in the late 1950s, the Rockefeller Foundation has been a relentless advocate of population control programs for developing countries. In expensive full-page advertisements in the January 30, 1997 Roll Call, and the February 2, 1997 Washington Post, the Rockefeller Foundation said that “As population growth exacerbates poverty in many developing countries, opportunities for U.S. exports could stagnate. High fertility drives down wages, encouraging the export of U.S. jobs.”

We believe that the preponderance of the evidence shows that there is a generally positive relationship between population and economic growth. The most important determinants of a country’s economic development, however, are its political and economic system, not the size of rate of growth of its population. But even if it were the case (and we do not believe it is) that high fertility in foreign countries “encourages the export of US jobs,” is it morally justifiable to consciously and deliberately set out to reduce the populations of its potential economic competitors, as America has done for the past thrity years?

The President’s Finding states that “As a matter of longstanding law and policy of this and previous Administrations, USAID funds may not be used either to fund abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate any person to have an abortion.”

In fact, there is ample evidence that USAID funds go to organizations which promote and perform abortions, such as the IPPF. The Population Research Institute’s February 3, 1997, report Abortion for All: How the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Promotes Abortion Around the World details this advocacy. The PRI report uses IPPF’s documents, particularly its Vision 2000 Strategic Plan, to demonstrate unequivocally IPPF, both directly and through its 140 national affiliates, is aggressively agitating for legalized abortion all over the world, often in direct defiance of the laws of host nations.

The President’s Finding asserts no fewer than four times (pages 2, 4, 5, and 22) that “world population will double to over 11 billion by 2050.” These repeated assertions that the world’s population will double in a little over a half a century and, presumably, continue to grow after that, lend the Finding a tone of calculated urgency, if not downright stridency. And it is wrong.

The population of the world will never again double. According to all Census Bureau and United Nations median and “most probable” projections, population growth will peak in the next few decades and then begin to decline. United Nations “medium variant” projection has the population of the world peaking at 9.4 billion in the year 2050.6

In fact, according to the UN’s “low variant” population projection, which over the past decade has proven to be the most accurate of the three variants, total world population will never exceed 7.8 billion persons, and will top out between 2030 and 2040 and then sharply decline.

This means that the conclusions of the President’s finding are based on population projections that, according to the UN, are at least 1.6 billion persons too high and possibly as much as 3.6 billion

On page 23 of the President’s Finding, there is a graph showing that world population will peak at about 8.6 billion with widespread family planning, and at about 12.2 billion without widespread family planning. The implication, of course, is that worldwide mandatory family planning is essential in order to avoid a global population overload.

The figures used in this particular graph date from the late eighties when the annual population increment was peaking. It is hard to understand why the Finding, which was presumably drafted by USAID researchers with easy access to the latest population figures from the US Census Bureau and the UN, would use such outdated figures. Unless, of course, the intent was to exaggerate the rate of population increase in an effort to justify additional population funding.

The Population Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Alan Guttmacher Institute have provided the United States government with reports whose conclusions are based upon faulty assumptions, statistics and research methods. It is therefore inevitable that President Clinton’s Finding would reflect these fundamental errors when reaching its conclusion that USAID population control funding should be released early.

This report shows that United States population control funding has injured and is based on on a narrow and wrongheaded view of America’s interests. We believe that the current restrictions on USAID population planning funds are reasonable and should be retained. We also recommend the formation of an independent commission to assess and evaluate the rationale, efficacy, and impact of population control spending, as compared with other forms of foreign aid.

1 USAID population control expenditures are from a table “United States Agency for International Development Population Assistance – All Accounts ($000).” Consumer Price Index from United States Census Bureau. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States (1995 Edition). Table 761, “Consumer Price Indexes (CPI by Major Groups: 1960 to 1994.”

2 The World Resources Institute, in Collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Development Program. World Resources 1994-5: Guide to the Global Environment. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Table 16.2, “Trends in Births, Life Expectancy, Fertility and Age Structure, 1970-95.” Total fertility rates given in the table are for the periods 1970-1975 and 1990-1995. These rates are assumed to be representative of their midpoints, i.e., 1972 and 1992. The 1965 and 1997 rates are exponentially extrapolated using the average 1972-1992 rate. The current population growth rate in Haiti is 1.6% per year; in Mexico, 1.9% per year; El Salvador, 2.0% per year; the Dominican Republic, 1.8% per year; the Philippines, 1.9% per year; Turkey, 2.0% per year; Ukraine, stable population; Russia, 0.2% per year, and Zimbabwe, 1.6% per year.

3 Donald Page Warwick. “Foreign Aid for Abortion.” The Hastings Center Report, Volume 10, Number 2, page 33, April 1980.

4 Juliet Labog-Javellana. “Flavier Hits US Pressure on Abortion.” Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 9, 1996, page 2.

5 David S. Broder. “A Vote for Poor Women Overseas.” Washington Post, February 2, 1997, page C7.

6 “World Population Prospects: The 1996 Revision, Annex I.” United Nations, Population Division, November 1996.

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