By Deena Sherman –
Maybe you saw me Saturday at Aurora’s downtown Farmers’ Market. I was at a little table with a banner that read, “Population Connection.” I was happy to volunteer for this group, whose mission is to explain the connections between overpopulation and issues such as pollution, poverty, hunger, deforestation, lack of clean water, while advocating for global family planning.
More than 200 Million women lack access to contraception. If they had it, according to Population Connection, there could be 67 Million fewer unintended pregnancies, resulting in 36 Million fewer abortions, 2.2 Million fewer newborn deaths, and 76,000 fewer maternal deaths.
It isn’t something we think about very much in this country. That’s probably because we have access to more than our share of the earth’s resources. Unlike places where very young women are forced into early marriages and constant childbearing, American women are the beneficiaries of more than 100 years of struggle to gain sovereignty over their own bodies.
The message was well received at the Farmer’s Market. Jean B. of Aurora affirmed that “everyone should have choices!” Kathy M. was grateful for this group because, “Someone has to teach people about family planning.” She added, “You have to invest in children. (Donald) Trump’s problem is that he’s never been poor.”
Karla D., another Auroran, agreed that “People should not have children if they can’t even take care of themselves. They can’t have healthy babies if they don’t have proper nutrition themselves, and they can’t rely on others to take care of them. Rather than giving hand-outs, we need to give them education.”
My husband, Dave, explained the “Global Gag Rule” to many stopping at our table. It was the nickname given to the “Mexico City Policy” when it morphed in 2001 to prohibit aid organizations which accept any government funding, from providing contraceptive education or condoms. Those who cannot afford children, and cannot prevent undesired pregnancies, end up becoming even poorer and often have desperate, unsafe abortions. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this hard line meant to prevent abortions, actually has doubled the number performed. “If we could help people have less children,” said Dave, “maybe they would need less aid from us in the future!”
Anton Kirner had strong opinions about U.S. policies. “We’ve got to stop trying to Americanize everyone! Don’t give people iPods and think you’ve solved the problem! They need the most basic technology.” He told us of a friend from Sierra Leone named Matt who said: “We need a tractor or a bicycle, not an iPod.”
Emily Beaupre, owner of Zen Loft in downtown Aurora, said women need, “access to education and opportunities.” She said, “I don’t have children, but I’m a nanny, school sub, and do a lot of volunteering with children. If I had even one child, I wouldn’t be able to help so many other children.”
July 11, was World Population Day. It was the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights. The Tehran Proclamation, from that conference, stated: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children…. Men and women have the right to choose when and how often to embrace parenthood, if at all.”
It’s a topic worth investing some thought. World population truly is connected to so many global issues. More information on making those connections can be found at www.populationconnection.org and www.un.org/en/events/populationday.
By Deena Sherman –