After the U.S. Congress and President agreed to a 35 percent cut in funding for population control programs, those groups with programs on the chopping block became very excited. With few significant sources of funds outside of the money provided by the U.S. Treasury, they feared losing so much funding from their principal donor. So beginning in early February with a Judy Mann column in The Washington Post, population controllers began producing a steady stream of disinformation designed to undercut Congressional resolve to do the right thing.
The population controllers’ most significant effort came in the form of a document produced by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), long associated in both finances and history with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The AGI report forecast disastrous consequences from the population control cuts. Senator Hatfield, who had commissioned the study, moved to restore the funding.
PRI’s crack team of investigators immediately went into action, analyzing both the numbers and assumptions Guttmacher used in its report. Serious problems were found with both. By 6 March 1996 PRI was ready to issue its own report. It found that increases in population control pledges by other countries will offset U.S. cuts, the demographic effects of such cuts will be negligible and that human rights abuses associated with population control programs will decline. Further, the U.S. will reap diplomatic rewards by ending support for population programs resented and resisted by the people of the developing world.
The duel of the reports came to a close when Senator Hatfield chose to misquote the PRI report from the floor of the U.S. Senate in support of his own position. His attention, however intended, combined with messages of support from other lawmakers, convinced us that Population Research Institute’s analysis had hit home.