For population control advocates, it’s fitting that the projected birth of the world’s seven billionth child falls on Halloween. To them, it’s a scary development that portends more risk of poverty, famine, and financial instability.
From another point of view, however, “this baby is a boon.” That’s how Kathryn Lopez of National Review Online describes the event in her interview with Anna Halpine, founder and CEO of the World Youth Alliance (WYA). This year the pro-family international youth organization is focusing on Population & Economics: Investing in the Human Person. Each new life should be welcomed, they argue, and seen as a new potential for creativity and innovation that contributes to opportunity and growth.
After all, you never know when the next baby could grow up to be a Steve Jobs or a Mother Teresa.
Because of this view, WYA often finds itself pushing back on the work of the United Nations and related organizations like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNICEF, which seem distraught about increasing population. The solution, according to some at the U.N., is to increase “population control” efforts through more access to contraception and abortion. The U.N. pressures developing nations to eliminate regulations or bans on abortion.
In an essay contributed to the Heritage collection Indivisible: Social and Economic Foundations of Liberty, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins points out that population control advocates’ dire predictions are off-track:
Ironically, it is depopulation, not “overpopulation,” that is the gravest threat to our future. Using the United Nations’ own data, demographer Nick Eberstadt warns of an “Old Age Tsunami”—not only in the developed West but also in countries such as China, India, Korea, Russia, and even the Arab world. Such evidence should lead us to question why U.S. tax dollars go to fund such anti-birth outfits as the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), Planned Parenthood, and a host of U.N. conferences on various issues.
In his Wall Street Journal column last week, Bill McGurn notes how our view of the human person shapes our policy perspectives generally:
Malthusian fears about population follow from the Malthusian view that human beings are primarily mouths to be fed rather than minds to be unlocked. In this reasoning, when a pig is born in China, the national wealth is thought to go up, but when a Chinese baby is born the national wealth goes down.
One view suggests that “so long as people are free to trade and use their talents, the more the merrier.” The other, McGurn suggests, “treat[s] people as a great mass of more or less interchangeable cogs, hence the worries about ‘sustainability’ and ‘carrying capacity’ and the like.”
This latter view is a highly static view, one that grossly underestimates the power of an individual to improve life for millions.…The static view of the human person underestimates the dynamism of ordinary men and women going about their business in a free economy.
Rather than hand-wringing over today’s milestone birth, we should advocate principles and policies that will allow each new life to flourish to its full potential. These include marriage, the rule of law, and economic freedom.
“[I]t all comes down to your conception of the human person,” writes McGurn. “Instead of looking for ways to reduce the number of people at the banquet of life, we would do better to look for ways to lay a better and more bounteous table.”