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Population Control Theory of Development is Fallacious and Dangerous


Westerners’ obsession with population control in developing countries at all costs can be hard to fathom. Tens of millions of aid dollars are spent on Depo Provera and similar hormonal contraceptives, alone, which have long been known to be unsafe. Needless to say, they are mainly used by people in poor countries, especially in African countries.

But the dangers of Depo Provera, which includes HIV transmission from men to women and from women to men, are considered a small price to pay for the satisfaction of the Western mind, which is convinced that if there were fewer people in poor countries, the ones left wouldn’t be so poor; and that the way to achieve this panacea is to push contraceptives of all kinds, safe, unsafe, expensive, cheap, effective and ineffective, on poor people.

So the Reproductive Health Reality Check site argues for the benefits of the copper intrauterine device (IUD), without reference to the wishes of those who may be recipients of Western funded IUD programs. Without reference also to the safety of widespread use of these devices.

What about countries with less than half the health personnel they need, less than half the hospitals and medical supplies? Where many people never see a trained health professional and where many of those who do are more likely to be infected with something incurable at the clinic than in their own homes?

Some become so fervent about population control that they implement female sterilization programs, advocate for them or try to foist them on women, who are promised a great life as a result. Sometimes they are bribed or otherwise coerced into accepting something that is not what they want and may do a lot of harm, medically and socially.

While this may sometimes elicit some sympathy even from those who still think enforced population control is acceptable and effective, they don’t seem so worried about the risks of nosocomial infection with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases that women face when they go to a health facility.

The whole population control theory of development is on shaky ground, anyhow. True, there are many people whose families are too big. But lower birth rates follow developments in health, education and social services, not the other way around. Small families in Tanzania and other African countries are usually from wealthier and better educated families themselves; the family doesn’t become wealthy just because there are few children.

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