Minnesotans For Sustainability©
Sustainable Society: A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.
Population And The American Future
John D. Rockefeller 3rd,
Beyond my own personal feelings, I oppose open abortion on demand and support limited therapeutic abortion laws for the following reasons:
1. The Commission report does stress that abortion should not be a substitute for birth control, but has not intimated that liberal abortion takes the responsibility away from sexual activity. Impulsive, irresponsible sexual involvement can be rationalized without fear of pregnancy if abortion is open, legal, and free.
2. My pragmatic feeling is that the United States is not ready for abortion on demand because:
Government agencies and politicians shy away from the issue.
Fifty states have 50 differing laws, though this is wrong, for laws should be uniform across the nation. These differing laws will take a long time to change. States will adopt a therapeutic law before adopting an open law.
Abortion is still a major moral issue.
Our Commission’s public opinion poll indicates that, though 50 percent were pro-abortion on a patient-to-doctor relationship, the other half approves it not at all or half-heartedly.
Title X of the Public Health Service Act and the Economic Opportunity Family Planning Act will not fund or support abortion.
Conflicting state and federal court interpretations on the legal right of a fetus will not be resolved until a nationwide law or court decision is passed.
Until public opinion conclusively fights the strong groups opposing open abortion, the American Law Institute model presents a more acceptable alternative than open abortion. This model, admittedly, has deficiencies in defining the mental health of a woman or in its egalitarian selection. However, I advocate therapeutic abortion on the basis that: (1) abortion is a decision between woman and physician; (2) it is approved by a hospital committee; (3) it is performed in a hospital or accredited clinic; and (4) the limit for the gestation period does not exceed 18 weeks.
* See also concurrence with statement of Commissioner Otis Dudley Duncan on page 153.
Legal Impediments for Minors
The recommendation that contraceptive information and services be made available to minors is indeed objectionable when it is applied to all minors. There is no question that this should be so in reference to those who are acknowledged to be emancipated minors, such as married teenagers or self-supported ones who may be living within or outside their parents’ home. In this instance, the same guidelines and safeguards which have been noted for family planning services should apply. It should be voluntary, with due consideration given to the religious beliefs and culture of the individual; supporting services such as counseling and social service should be available; emphasis on privacy, consideration and the dignity of the individual should be always present; and there should be ease of accessibility for everyone.
On the other hand, when we as a society accept the responsibility of giving contraceptive advice and services to those who are minors living in a family unit, then we are striking at the foundation and roots of family life, which are already weakened by our misuse of affluence and technology. First of all, it should be stated that the age of menarche or beginning of menstruation is continually going downwards, so that today it is about 12.5 years. The implications of this are indeed obvious and need not be belabored. What is of greater importance is that our society has the responsibility to provide the kind of family life, education, neighborhood, recreational facilities, and creative outlets which would make it possible for all minors to live in an environment which would be conducive to the growth and development of the child which is due him. If this affluent society cannot do this, then it has failed miserably and does not deserve to continue to exist. Contraceptive approach to minors is the cheapest and most irresponsible way for our society to solve this problem.
The majority’s recommendation that a nationwide abortion-on-demand law modeled after the New York State statute be adopted cannot be supported. Abortion in the opinion of this Commissioner is destruction of human life since it kills the fetus; and society through its laws has a responsibility to protect all human life. Support for this concern can best be expressed by discussing some of the issues raised in this section.
The Law: The argumentative posture of these paragraphs is exclusively that of the pro-abortionists, namely, that abortion legislation has been no more than a health measure postulated on the welfare of the mother only. This section of the report does not even make an attempt to provide a legal accounting for the unborn developing child.
The Moral Question: This section of the report proposes that only one moral principle be the controlling factor in the abortion situation: the woman’s freedom to reproduce. Such moralistic monism, simplistic as it is, at bottom fails to consider the freedom of the unborn child to live. Overall, the arguments of this section would make some sense if the topic was a woman’s right to use preventive contraceptive methods.
For all its language about moral sensitivities, the text seems completely oblivious of the fact, much less the implications, of defining a segment of humanity as “unwanted.” The Commission does not face the question: What does it mean as public policy to legitimate the destruction of “unwanted children”?
Public Health: The report overrates the problems of illegal abortions as much as it overrates the feasibility of unrestricted abortion laws to solve what problems there really are. Most of the data cited in this section of the report come from New York City, and are based on a limited experience. This is concerned almost exclusively with the short-range effects of abortion on the mother’s health (at that, there is no way of following up on the out-of-staters). The data from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Japan on the negative long-range effects of abortion on a woman’s reproductive system are ignored.
It also should be noted that the overall maternal death rate, even with the presence of restrictive abortion laws, has been steadily declining for years. The role of positive maternal health care has been overlooked.
The complete failure to consider even the massive destruction of developing fetal life as some kind of balancing factor in public health is but an indictment of the myopic point of view of this section.
Family Planning: The report ignores the evidence in England, Japan, and the Eastern European countries that the easy availability of abortion destroys motivation to have consistent recourse to preventive contraception methods. As the text reads, the Commission would be saying that it believes that the transition from the abortion mentality to the preventive contraceptive mentality could be achieved by the simple presence of adequate contraceptive technology. If such would be the case, this would be the first time in human history that technology has ever solved a specifically human problem. This faith in technology is hardly justified, either historically as regards technology or specifically as regards family planning.
Demographic Context: It is highly ironic that a Commission concerned with population policy should settle for the kind of scattered information that is available regarding the demographic impact of abortion, yet would recommend unrestricted abortion as public policy. In this section, the Commission practically writes off the demographic impact of abortion as a significant issue for the United States.
This Commissioner is one who identifies with the third position in Chapter 1 and firmly believes that population growth is indeed not the major problem in our society and that, of more import, is the need for a radical rearrangement of our values and priorities as well as the relationship of man to himself, of men to each other, and to the earth from which we sprang. As René Dubos stated in a speech which he made before the Smithsonian Institution on October 2, 1969, entitled “Theology of the Earth,” the first chapter of Genesis tells man and woman to replenish the earth and subdue it; but of more importance is the second chapter wherein man is instructed to dress and keep the land. This means that man must be concerned with what happens to the land and its resources.
It is of particular importance to keep this in mind because, many times throughout the Report of the Commission, the need to speak in terms of statistics about people, rather than about people themselves, may leave the impression that human beings are looked upon as things or chattel which can be equated in terms of numbers or quantities; what it costs to produce them; what is the supply and demand; and how they can be moved or rearranged.
This then brings me to the recommendation of this chapter on population stabilization. I voted for it, but I would not want anyone to believe that the phrase, “the Commission recommends that the nation welcome and plan for a stabilized population,” is intended to mean that I would support any national or state governmental policy or regulation which would in any way interfere with the desires, aspirations, and needs of any family concerning its size or number. For our government to interfere with this sacred trust given to each family would be to bring Orwell’s 1984 prediction closer to reality. My intent is expressed by the following statement of goals by the Commission: . . . creating social conditions wherein the desired values of individuals, families, and communities can be realized; equalizing social and economic opportunities for women and members of disadvantaged minorities; and enhancing the potential for improving the quality of life.
I agree with most of the views expressed in the final version of the Commission Report. Many of my early concerns over specific portions of prior drafts were eliminated in later revisions. But, as with the other Commissioners, my concurrence in this Report should not be interpreted as meaning that I necessarily agree with every statement or always with the wording chosen. I do want to make the following comments on the views expressed by the Commission on a few specific substantive points.
Resources and the Environment
I agree with the conclusion reached in this chapter that a lessening of population growth will buy us some Lime in the struggle to maintain a livable biosphere. The Commission’s mandate was to study the effect of population growth on our environment and natural resources, and the models on which its studies were based emphasize the population factor. Those reading the Report should keep this in mind.
The Report argues that continued population growth inevitably speeds up the depletion of natural resources and requires rapid technological development —to meet the ever-increasing demand for goods and services— all of which increase environmental pollution.
Proceeding from this assumption, the Report attempts to show the impact of population on the environment by “using a quantitative model which shows the demand for resources and the pollution levels associated with different rates of economic and population growth.” If the Commission’s use of this quantitative model —appropriate for the Commission’s function— were to be misunderstood, unintended and unjustified conclusions could be drawn from it about the Commission’s view of the relationship between population growth and environmental degradation.
This bears clarification, for, in The Closing Circle, Barry Commoner comments on the danger of this kind of approach to the environmental problem:
This approach, it seems to me, is equivalent to attempting to save a leaking ship by lightening the load and forcing passengers overboard. One is constrained to ask if there isn’t something radically wrong with the ship.
His point is well taken.
Population pressures did not lead soap manufacturers to switch to detergents.
Population pressures did not lead farmers to the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Population pressures did not lead our cities to the abandonment of public transit systems nor to our public’s dependence on the private automobile.
Population pressures did not develop the too-big and too-powerful American automobile.
Population pressures did not bring about the switch to flip-top beer cans and nonreturnable bottles.
Population pressures did not fill our homes with myriad electrical gadgets.
Most of our environmental disasters have been the technological successes of an economic system where the goal is to use technology to maximize profit.
The ecologically unsound technological developments of the past two decades would have created the environmental crisis even if the population had been stable during that period.
The final few pages of Chapter 5 tend to balance out the preceding emphasis on population as the cause of environmental deterioration. However, the Report states that: “Population growth is clearly not the sole culprit in ecological damage.” I would like to point out that population growth is not the major culprit, either. The major culprit is the manner in which we use, control, and evaluate our technology.
Slowing population growth will give us time to reevaluate and change our technology, but it cannot substitute for the changes which must be made if we are to survive.
The Commission recommends enactment of a Population Education Act and presents a persuasive case for a greatly enlarged federal effort. I was the Senate author of both provisions in the present law cited by the Commission dealing with federal assistance in the development and implementation of population education programs, materials, and curricula —in the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act (P.L. 91-572) and in the Environmental Education Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-516). As Chairman of the Special Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee, I also conducted oversight hearings on the Administration’s failure to implement these programs.
But I am not at present certain in my own mind whether it would be more appropriate to achieve our ends legislatively by amending existing laws or by enacting an entirely new statute.
Legal Impediments for Minors
The Commission recommends the elimination of legal barriers to, and the establishment of, programs for the distribution of contraceptive information and services to all, including unmarried teenagers. I support fully the Commission’s purpose: to eliminate the suffering which an unwanted birth often produces both for mother and child. The means of implementing the Commission’s recommendation that such information and services should be provided without parental consent to unmarried teenagers living in the home concern me, however.
I do not believe the Commission has placed sufficient stress on the role and responsibilities of parents regarding the provision of birth control information and services. Although I believe appropriate discussion of reproduction, birth control, and venereal disease should be included in the basic school curriculum for adolescents, I also believe it would be a mistake to place our principal emphasis on that method of education. Society and schools should make every effort to encourage child and parent to discuss these matters honestly and openly. Our educational programs should stress this.
I have similar concerns about medical authorities providing contraceptive services to unemancipated teenagers without parental consent or knowledge. I strongly believe that it should be the obligation of the health professional to counsel the unemancipated teenage patient to raise this issue with his or her parents. Nonetheless, despite my serious concerns on this question, I concur that it is poor public policy for pregnancy to be treated as a kind of moralistic punishment for what some may consider promiscuous sexual behavior.
Although the Commission expresses strong concern —which I share fully— over the danger that abortion may be used as a means of birth control, the Commission also recommends the adoption of state laws permitting abortion upon a pregnant woman’s request, provided it is performed by licensed physicians under conditions of medical safety.
I am unable to join in this recommendation because I hesitate to endorse governmental sanction of the destruction of what many people consider to be human life. I am particularly concerned by the social and ethical implications of such action now, given the general atmosphere of violence and callousness toward life in our society and in our world. Ours has become an incredibly violent time. Our people are involved in acts of violence both in our streets and in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile all mankind exists under the dark shadow of the strategy of nuclear terror with its threat of sudden death for all of us.
Has life ever been held more cheaply? Has there ever been greater indifference to the taking of life? Are we really aware of just how hardened we have become?
I wonder if, in this atmosphere, we are capable of making a wise decision on this issue involving our very attitude toward human life. Perhaps we should wait for a more compassionate and less callous time.
I want to make it plain that I recognize the inconsistencies and inequities involved in many existing state laws permitting abortions for “therapeutic” reasons. They have the effect of depriving low-income persons of equal access to medical procedures readily available to the more affluent. Such laws, along with the even more restrictive or prohibitive laws in some states, result in utter tragedy for women who, unable to afford travel to another state or abroad to obtain an abortion, turn in desperation to illegal abortions and suffer butchery that often destroys both the fetus and the mother.
I understand and respect the view that many people hold that abortion is fundamentally a question of a woman’s inherent right to control her own body. But I also understand and respect the view of many others that a second body also is involved —a human fetus. And, as I have indicated, I am concerned about the effect of all this on still a third body —our society itself.
The Commission recommends that Congress enact legislation to impose civil and criminal sanctions on employers of illegal border-crossers or aliens who are in an immigration status which does not authorize employment. Such a statute would, in my judgment, impose on employers an onerous burden of having to ascertain in fact whether each individual is in a proscribed category. This could very well have a chilling effect on hiring in international border areas, thereby seriously jeopardizing employment opportunities for Mexican-Americans.
Only in the case of an employer who knows or has clear reason to know that an employee is within a proscribed category would I favor imposition of any criminal or civil penalty.
One burden I would place on the employer is that he inquire about the
citizenship of each prospective employee. If the applicant states he is an
alien, the employer should require submission of evidence of lawful admission
for permanent residence or of authorized employment status.
I think we need to find better ways of halting the employment of illegal aliens, while at the same time not imposing onerous or counterproductive burdens or restraints on employers. Two that I am considering are:
1. Requiring that Social Security cards issued to aliens be of a different color, or in some way clearly distinguishable, from those issued to citizens. (We would reed to make sure, however, that citizens are not unreasonably put to great trouble in producing evidence of citizenship in order to secure a Social Security card.)
2. Requiring each prospective employee to complete a non-notarized affidavit form regarding his or her United States citizenship. Material false statements would be punishable under the Federal False Statements Act.
It is important that in coping with the employment of illegal aliens, we consult with those population groups most directly affected. It is equally important that we do not choose a remedy that imposes special burdens on any geographical, ethnic, or racial group.
Depressed Rural Areas
In discussing the goals of our population policy as it relates to migration and economically depressed rural areas, concepts such as population maldistribution and the need for population dispersion take on real meaning only after careful analysis of the economic and social consequences of the changing structure of the agricultural industry. However, I wish to make certain observations about what causes people to leave rural America.
Of the 5.5 million individual farms that existed in 1950, only 2.9 million remain today. If present trends continue, there will be fewer than two million farms in 1980. In other words, 900,000 farms will disappear in the span of just eight years. Some 900,000 farm families will be forced to seek their livings outside of farming —often in already overcrowded urban centers where they are ill-equipped to compete in a job market that requires skills and training unacquired in rural life.
The structure of modern agriculture is changing dramatically. Twenty to 30 years ago, the rural landscape was dotted with family farms and small, thriving communities. Today, small farmers are being blown off their land by the winds of economic and technological change. Farms are increasingly large scale and mechanized; the farming industry is increasingly dominated by giant corporations and conglomerates that buy up prime farmland and seek the total vertical integration of the industry from “seedling to supermarket.” The production, processing, marketing, and distribution of agricultural commodities are increasingly controlled by huge corporate entities that have little, if any, stake in the rural community. With an economic base that is primarily urban, these agri-industries siphon off what few economic resources are left in rural America.
The Commission’s statement that “many places have simply outlived their economic function” could be interpreted as an acceptance of the myth of the inevitability of bigness of agriculture. The unfortunate reality is that corporations and conglomerates are moving into farming not because smaller units are inefficient, but because present federal policies are encouraging these entities to diversify into agriculture by providing them with tax benefits and other economic incentives. Their presence in agriculture-and the nonfarm resources they control —make it virtually impossible for the independent farmer to compete successfully, even though he is likely to be the more efficient farmer.
If we are to discuss maximizing freedom of choice about where an individual wants to live and work —and I believe such freedom is essential— we must make it possible for the independent farmers and businessmen of rural America to survive economically. As the Commission notes, we must build up the economic and social base for the maintenance of rural communities so that people have a real choice about where to live and to work. We must also resist the temptation to assume that we can revitalize rural America only by bringing in new industry. Although rural communities desperately need infusion of new capital, industrialization alone will not provide jobs and economic stability there in a manner consistent with environmental and social quality.
It is vital that we examine these issues in more detail if we are to develop and implement viable national policies and priorities that can achieve a better rural/urban population balance.
Department of Community Development
The Commission recommends that Congress enact legislation to establish a Department of Community Development to undertake, among other things, research on the interactions between population growth and distribution, and the programs such a Department would administer. I agree that this research is necessary. An administration bill, S. 1618, to establish such a Department, is pending before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, of which I am a member. But until I am able to resolve all the difficult issues involved in creating this super-Department —including the implications of removing the community action program from the Office of Economic Opportunity— I believe it would be premature for me, as a member of the authorizing committee, to join in this Commission recommendation.
We inquire what is the effect of a growing population on a “healthy economy.” But the majority of the Commission, no doubt wisely, did not care to inquire into what may constitute “health” in regard to an economy. We accept projections to the effect that, three decades hence, “the average individual’s consumption is expected to be more than twice what it is today” without inquiring whether a doubling of consumption every 30 years be a sign of “health,” or, perchance, of some disease whose horrors will only be disclosed to us by degrees. The Commission cannot plead that the proper questions were not raised before it, for they are trenchantly stated in the paper, “Declining Population Growth: Economic Effects,” prepared for the Commission by J. J. Spengler. I wish to conclude this statement with a quotation from Spengler’s paper:
Today it is assumed that the economic circle can be squared; for. . . it is supposed that a society may have guaranteed full employment, price-level stability, strong producer pressure groups (trade unions, business and agricultural groups, government employees), and freedom from direct economic controls. In reality, of course, it is impossible for these four objectives to be realized simultaneously; only two, possibly three, are compatible. The policies driving the American economy are much more directionless than those which animate the Strassburg goose and the Sumo wrestler to eat continuously, the one to become liver pâté and the other to “belly” one of his kind from the ring; for this economy, with its momentum based upon destruction of a finite earth’s depleting resources, neglects the fundamental requirement for survival, namely, conducting its affairs in keeping with an infinite time or planning horizon.
Ultimately, attainability of a population goal compatible with the finiteness of that part of the biosphere accessible to the American people turns on what happens in the moral realm —on determination of the content of this goal and construction of a penalty-reward system calculated to make the goal realizable. Market forces alone cannot assure its realization, for the reasons that make exchange, though the main organizing principle, inadequate without appropriate institutional and legal underpinnings. A population goal cannot be settled upon in isolation, but must be viewed as one of a set of interrelated goals, the attainability of any one of which turns on the weight attached to other goals within the framework of a finite physical as well as social environment.
In this section, the Report recommends a universally available child-care system. In the sense that the Commission holds voluntary participation to be essential, the Commission’s position that participation in a child-care program not be a condition for other governmental assistance is not inconsistent. What is difficult to reconcile is the contention that a child-care system affords opportunities for learning, development, and companionship; but government should not require the people it supports to utilize these opportunities. These are the very people who, through little fault of their own, are otherwise isolated from these advantages and, as a consequence, from the mainstream of society. Thus, they are the very people who have the most to gain from exposure to child-care programs, but who may, understandably, be the most hesitant and apprehensive about volunteering.
In fairness to them, I believe they deserve priority in any child-care system financed by the federal government. In fairness to those who pay the bill for any government-sponsored program, I believe the government has the responsibility to set conditions which attempt to assure fulfillment of the program’s goal This should be no less true in the case of the welfare program, where one of the goals is to assist people in finding a meaningful and contributory niche in society, than it is in any other program.
All this is not to say I am prepared to support the Commission’s recommendation for government to subsidize —beyond the tax relief recently enacted— a comprehensive child-care program of sufficient proportions to accommodate all those who want to participate. If the demand for child-care service continues to grow —and that seems to be the sign of the times— I believe those who want it should be willing to pay for it, if they can.
I am also convinced that pre-kindergarten education should not be established as a separate federal school system, but should be integrated with other private and public education.
Children Born Out of Wedlock
I agree with much of the analysis presented in this action on the need to reduce the social and moral stigma attached to children born out of wedlock. It is no fault of the child that the circumstances of his birth may have been deemed irregular by society. Thus, anything that this Commission’s recommendations can do to reduce or eliminate the social and moral stigma is appropriate.
I am not, however, similarly convinced that the legal ramifications of the distinction between legitimacy and illegitimacy have been fully analyzed by the Commission in sufficient depth to enable it to recommend that the legal status of a child born out of wedlock be the same as a legitimate child. The purpose of the legal discrimination was not, as the Commission states, to protect the sanctity of family and discourage extramarital sex, so much as it was to clarify and make more certain the inheritance of property and the rights of individuals to legally obligate others. Even if the purpose had been to protect the family and discourage extramarital sex, the fact that the goal has not been realized causes me to argue against the relaxation of restrictions; it could easily be argued that the restrictions should be tightened, not weakened. By analogy, one could also argue that since laws against murder have not eliminated murder, they should be abolished.
The examples cited in the Report of reductions of discrimination only point out the complexities of the matter. For example, the amendments to the Social Security Act recognize, appropriately, certain conditions such as contributions to the support of the child by the father or a court decree identifying the father as a necessary precondition, a substitute, if you will, for marriage, “legitimizing” the status of the child. Unless there is some overt act of assumption of responsibility, the distinction is not removed.
Because of the complexities of the matter, I can agree that research and study by the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and other groups concerned with state laws are appropriate. I cannot, however, join in the Commission’s recommendation that all legal distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate children be eliminated.
Women: Alternatives to Childbearing
Throughout this section, there runs the refrain that our primary object and goal is to provide greater freedom to the individual in society. In urging the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment, the Commission may be inciting the substitution of greater regimentation and control rather than encouraging the expansion of individual freedom.
We are a pluralistic society. The vitality, the experimentation, the openness of our society is directly attributable, I believe, to the fact that we are free to march to the tune of different drummers. To force our citizens into a straitjacket of conformity and sameness would stultify individuality and undermine freedom. Yet I believe that in the name of equality such a course of action is being proposed here.
Women have been discriminated against in employment, in education, in legal arrangements, and in family relationships. I do not question this. To employ a blunderbuss, through enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment or the anti-sex-discrimination amendment to the education laws, however, can harm as many or more than it can help; and there is a better way to put an end to discrimination against women.
Wherever discrimination exists which deserves government action to overcome it, efforts should be made-and are being made —to provide remedies through measured steps, where facts are gathered, causal relationships established, and the margin for serious error reduced. In the enactment and now the strengthening of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, this has been done. Similarly, it appears that both Houses of Congress have agreed upon the need to eliminate clearly illogical and harmful sex discrimination in the areas of vocational education and graduate higher education. Correctional action is also being taken to equalize the property rights of women and their status as heads of households.
The goal of the Equal Rights Amendment is to eliminate distinctions between men and women in the law, but there can be distinction without discrimination. Treating people differently, respecting their individual needs and desires, looking upon them as unique human beings —not as a part of a statistical herd— is not discrimination. Treating everyone alike, regardless of their preferences, however, is all too often discriminatory.
Many women find enjoyment and gratification in remaining home, being mothers, and rearing children. Eliminating laws which protect that status is every bit as discriminatory as any efforts to impose such a status or role. Adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment, in particular, would not only have this effect, but would tie the hands of Congress and the people in efforts to recognize the uniqueness of individuals and their right to pursue their own objectives.
For over a century, organized labor has struggled to obtain protections for women who must or who choose to work. I would assume that, if polled, most women would elect to preserve these safeguards. Yet that which took many years to obtain would be undone overnight if the Equal Rights Amendment were adopted.
Serious erosion to individual freedom is also threatened in the area of education through either the enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment or legislation that permits the federal government to write admission policies where discrimination based upon sex has not been proven to exist. While no one can tolerate the denial of the opportunity for an education or fair consideration for employment in the field of education, the fact is that the great strength of America’s educational system since the founding of the nation has been its freedom from government dictation and control. Diversity and autonomy have been its hallmarks. This has included the establishment of a variety of options which have been made available to students, ranging all the way from totally one-sex schools to equally balanced coeducation.
The organization of education has been based on that which is best educationally for the individual, not on what mathematical ratios dictate. To prohibit such diversity and autonomy through the imposition of uniform requirements would constitute a clear and present threat to our educational institutions.
In graduate, professional, and vocational education, and even in some of our public undergraduate schools, the evidence is clear that discrimination —not diversity— exists. This should be corrected, and corrective legislation is in the offing. However, we have seen no indication that those who seek an education at other levels and in other areas are prevented by reason of sex from attaining their goal.
While figures on elementary and secondary education are unavailable, the record discloses that, in undergraduate education, females continue to represent a larger percentage of total enrollment, increasing from 31.7 percent in 1946 to 41.1 percent in 1970. For first-time undergraduate enrollment, the percentage increased from 28.3 percent in 1945 to 44.7 percent in 1970. In these same years, females represented 56.8 percent and 50.5 percent of the number graduating from high school.
In sum, the fault I find with any remedy that attempts to cure a variety of ills with a single stroke of the pen is that it ignores the individual, removes the good with the bad, and erodes principles which only peripherally touch upon the ills at which the remedy is directed. Overall, the effect is to discriminate where discrimination does not exist, and to restrict rather than to free. I believe these pitfalls are inherent in the Equal Rights Amendment and the recommendation that the federal government direct the admissions of our elementary and secondary schools as they relate to sex. Specific legislation to correct proven problems will permit us to avoid these pitfalls.
Legal Impediments for Minors
I am compelled at the outset in commenting on this section to offer an observation: I do not believe the Report is proposing that contraceptive devices be sold through vending machines in school corridors, and I hope it will not be so construed.
As to contraception, the law, and minors, I wish the Commission had applied an age qualification to the term minor. Even so, I cannot join in the Commission’s recommendation that all legal restrictions on access to contraceptive information and services should be eliminated to permit minors, youngsters under the age at which they are legally responsible for themselves, unlimited access to contraceptives and abortions.
As I have stated elsewhere, the goal of increasing the quality of life should not be paramount to the sanctity of life. The exercise of any right in excess can lead to license.
Throughout this Report, the emphasis on the rights of the individual is used to justify increased individual freedom and responsibility. Yet, the facts cited in the Report, particularly when dealing with questions of minors, show that minors are often inexperienced and ill equipped to deal with the questions that the new freedom gives them.
I would have preferred that the Commission qualify its recommendation to give greater weight to circumstances and the need for parental guidance. I can fully support the recommendations that the consequences of illegitimacy and teenage pregnancy be reduced so that the mother will have a chance of enjoying a satisfying life. The tensions associated with what is, perhaps, an unwanted pregnancy should be reduced. At the same time, however, we should not detach ourselves, as the Commission does, from the related moral and social questions.
By eliminating any need or concern for parental guidance, the Commission essentially takes the view that the child knows better than the parent what his rights and responsibilities are. This, in my view, goes too far in placing emphasis on individual right, and tends to ignore responsibility for one’s own actions.
A particular fear haunts me with regard to the lack of a recommendation that teenagers be exempted from laws permitting voluntary sterilization beyond the assumption that usual and accepted medical judgment will be exercised.
I do not know of any age a human being passes through that is more impressionable, more susceptible to suggestion, than the teen years. To couple this impressionability with access to sterilization without parental guidance can mean that many youngsters, in their zeal to be patriotic, to do something for mankind, will know more than a few moments of torment and regret.
It is no answer, to my mind, to these young people and others merely to suggest that sperm banks can alleviate concern about a change of mind. Technology in this area has not advanced to the stage that permits this guarantee. And, finally, the moral questions posed by artificial insemination remain unresolved.
I cannot accept the recommendation that present state abortion laws be liberalized to allow abortions to be performed on request.
My basic premise is that we must include within our concern for the quality and enhancement of life a respect for life itself —indeed, it should be paramount. Otherwise, the concern for the enhancement or enrichment of life is entirely materialistic. Thus, I believe the Report should have resolved the moral and ethical issues it raised. The Report could have served a useful purpose at this point by a more wide-ranging discussion of these issues. Instead, it does nothing to clarify the fundamental bases on which people now quite rightly object to liberalized abortion.
A discussion of the moral and ethical issues, I realize, is not an easy task. How, for instance, do we distinguish between abortion and infanticide? The goal of relieving the mother of the burdens of child-rearing is the same; thus, some distinction between the means must lead to a recommendation of the one and not the other.
At what point in the development of the fetus do we consider it to be human life worthy of the protection of society? And what event signals the change of the fetus from the state of nonhuman to human? My own view is that the fetus is a new, separate human being from the moment of conception.
It would be helpful for those reading this Report to be able to review the reasoning leading to the judgment that liberal abortion is morally defensible. In my own view, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reach that moral judgment, and yet stop short of justifying infanticide, euthanasia, or the killing of the severely mentally or physically handicapped.
I believe that the failure of the text to resolve these questions of moral judgment places the recommendation outside a moral context.
Viewed within a moral or ethical context, I do not believe that this society can accept the destruction of human life for the comfort or convenience of individuals within the society.
Furthermore, the recommendations do not reflect the complexity of potential situations in which abortion may be called for. It does not distinguish, for example, between the rights of married and unmarried women to request abortion. What may be appropriate for an unmarried woman to decide between herself and her doctor may be completely inappropriate for a married woman, who thus ignores the rights of her husband. Moreover, there are numerous distinctions of a medical nature which could be made to limit the scope of the recommendation.
In this section, the Commission notes the difficulty of assessing the demographic impact of liberalized abortion. Its impact would be small, no doubt less than that of immigration. And yet, abortion on request takes precedence as a recommendation over one concerning the limiting of immigration. Since this is a “Population” Commission and not a “Birth Control” Commission, what compelling consideration leads the Commission to make this very controversial recommendation when it has little or no population or demographic consequence?
In summary, for all of the reasons noted, I find it impossible to join with the Commission in these recommendations.
Methods of Fertility Control
A trait common to groups and organizations concerned about a particular problem is citing their issue as one of highest priority, but failing to view it in the context of other problems that confront us as a nation. Obviously, not all of the myriad dilemmas we are trying to solve can be classified as being of highest priority.
Specifically, the Commission recommends that this nation give highest priority to fertility control research and that the full $93 million authorized for this purpose for fiscal year 1973 be appropriated and allocated. Next, it recommends that federal expenditures for such research rise to a minimum of $150 million by 1975.
To put the full funding recommendation in perspective, it is necessary to examine the definition of the word “authorization” as it pertains to legislation. In simplest terms, it sets a limit on the amount that may be appropriated for a given purpose. It is a figure that, more often than not, is merely taken from thin air. Rarely does an authorization reflect a diligent inquiry into actual needs or a search for an amount that can be efficiently and effectively expended during a defined period.
If Congress were to heed the cry for full funding of each of the authorizations it makes, the federal budget would be more than three times the $246.3 billion requested for fiscal year 1973. The amount of the federal debt would be imponderable.
Viewed in this light, the necessity to evaluate each request for funds alongside all of the other requests in the budget as a whole is clearly evident. The Report notes that amount expended thus far by the federal government for fertility control research is modest in terms of total research expenditures, but no attempt is made to assess this demand for funds as they relate to the thousands of other funding demands.
In like manner, the Report makes specific recommendations for funding levels of family planning projects. We are not suggesting that the amounts recommended are either too high or too low, but rather that they are merely judgments; and we do not want to judge funding levels for these purposes in isolation from funding requests for all other programs.
Equally important, the discussions on funds do not take into account the fact that federal support for family planning services and fertility control research in fiscal year 1973 will rise to $240 million, a threefold increase since fiscal 1969.
The Commission recommends that both “. . . public and private health financing mechanisms should begin paying the full cost of all health services related to fertility, including prenatal, delivery, and postpartum services; pediatric care for the first year of life; voluntary sterilization; safe termination of unwanted pregnancy; and medical treatment of infertility.” Moreover, the Commission suggests: “The same type of coverage could be built into existing private insurance programs.”
Either way, it seems to me, the public pays. Indeed, perhaps the public is willing. I suggest, however, that in making that decision several considerations warrant examination.
First, of course, it is important to ascertain the present direction of private insurance. Those of us who do not earn our livelihood through the private insurance system know that health insurance (and my reference to health insurance includes the whole gamut —medical, surgical, hospital, major, and comprehensive) is costly. What is more, we know it does not provide all the benefits we seek and premiums go up when new benefits are added. We can probably all agree as well that the only way medical expenses are going to go is up. And we rightfully ask whether private insurance can provide remedy.
In its 1971-72 report, the Health Insurance Institute tells us that some 170 million Americans under age 65 were protected by one or more forms of private health insurance in 1970. Despite Medicare, which serves those over age 65, over 11 million more persons, or 59 percent of the total population age 65 and over, carried private health insurance policies to supplement medicare in 1970.
From its birth in 1950 until 1970, major medical expense insurance —wherein each individual pays the first $100 or so each year for health expenses and 10 to 15 percent of expenses over the deductible amount— had expanded to cover 78 million people.
Without a doubt, the system is responsive, flexible, and expandable, but nonetheless in need of improvement. The question is, what form marks improvement?
It is my conviction that additional expenditures, be they public or private, for health-related costs should be devoted to answering our needs for more medical personnel (a program already under way, I should point out), to allaying the burden to individuals of prolonged or unusually heavy medical expenses, and to preventive medicine.
It seems to me we must recognize that this nation has basic needs that government can and must meet, but our nation’s capital is not a bottomless well from which we can pump endlessly without fear of the well running try. There is a limit, and genuine priorities must be set. Surely public subsidy of sterilization and abortion should not come at the head of the list of priorities.
After the Commission had approved the section on "Racial and Ethnic Minorities,” a study by Finis Welch of the Graduate Center, City University of New York and the National Bureau of Economic Research, came to my attention; this study throws new and important light on the returns to education for blacks and whites. The comparisons in the text on income by education are for males 25 years of age and older and seem to indicate that income gains from increased education, especially college education, are very small for blacks. Mr. Welch undertook a new analysis of the 1960 Census of Population data in which the data for both whites and blacks were analyzed by estimated years of work experience. In effect, the years of work experience was the number of years since each individual left school.
His conclusion with respect to the analysis of income and education data for 1959 was:
In the 1959 data, the evidence is that for persons with 1-4 years of experience, black earnings rise relative to white earnings as school completion levels increase. This point has not been previously noted. For persons with 5-12 years of experience, the black/white earning ratio is insensitive to schooling and for persons with 13-25 years of experience the relative earnings of blacks falls as schooling increases.
A similar analysis of data for 1966 reveals two results of great significance. First, for blacks who entered the labor force in 1959 or later, the percentage increase in income for each additional year was substantially greater than for whites. Second, blacks who entered the labor force between 1947 and 1958 retained the same percentage income gains from an additional year of schooling relative to the income gains for whites in 1966 as had been found for 1959.
These conclusions are consistent with the behavior of black young men and women. In the last two decades, there has been a substantial narrowing of the gap between the number of years of schooling completed by blacks and whites. In 1969, blacks who were 25 to 29 years old had a median years of school completed of 12.1 years compared to 12.6 years for whites. For persons who were 45 to 54 years old in 1969, the median years of schooling completed was 9.1 for blacks and 10.9 for whites.
Mr. Welch’s study and, more importantly, the decisions made by young black men and women cast considerable doubt upon the quite strongly held view that the returns to education for recent entrants to the labor force is now substantially lower for blacks than for whites. That the returns to education for blacks who entered the labor force before the late 1940’s is below the return realized by whites is not in doubt.
It is good that the data from the 1970 Census of Population will soon be available to permit further analysis of the returns to education.
Forecasting economic events even for a few months into the future is a hazardous exercise. Making extrapolations for three decades or so, as one is required to do if one is to forecast the impact of demographic developments, is an even more uncertain undertaking. The Commission was therefore commendably cautious in asserting what it could identify as the probable economic impacts of slower population growth.
Nevertheless, there exists a growing body of highly interesting, though speculative, literature on what the many different economic facets or aspects might be of slower population growth. Some of these contributions were done at the request of the Commission and will be issued as supplemental research reports. These comments, in fact, are largely drawn from those reports.
Perhaps the most important of these speculations concerns the possible impact of slower population growth on the extent and incidence of poverty in the United States. It seems highly probable that per capita incomes overall will be almost 100 percent higher than they are today by the end of this century if Americans adopt a two-child family as their norm and 75 percent higher if they opt for the three-child family. Certainly, such income increases should help reduce the absolute if not the relative incidence of poverty in our society.
However, reasons also exist for suspecting that slower population growth could help equalize the distribution of income as well. A slower growing population tends to be an older population, and it is a reasonably well-established economic fact that people save more in the later parts of their working lives, that is after the ages of 45 or 50 or so. Accordingly, some of the economists advising the Commission have suggested that these higher savings rates may depress the rate of return on capital and correspondingly increase the share of total national income going to labor. Since wage and salary income are more important to lower than higher income groups, and conversely for returns on investments, such a shift would suggest some equalization in the distribution of income.
Even without this effect, which is admittedly quite speculative, there are other reasons for suspecting that slower population growth could imply a more equal income distribution. Specifically, more unwanted births appear to have occurred historically among poorer families. Thus, the reduction of family size from slower population growth may be greater for these lower income families. In the late 1960’s, in fact, the birthrate for women in families with incomes of less than $5,000 per annum declined by over 15 percent more than for the rest of our society. The poor still have a higher birthrate than the middle classes —but the recent trends suggest that this discrepancy may be disappearing. Thus, even if family or household incomes do not go up relatively more rapidly for poor families in the future —and as we have just noted there are some reasons for suspecting that they may— the per capita income available to members of lower income families could rise relatively because their family sizes will shrink relatively rapidly.
Another economic benefit that we might derive from slower population growth would be some simplification of the structural problems we now seem to face in absorbing labor force growth. This, in turn, could reduce the intensity and frequency of certain classes of unemployment problems that now bedevil our society. Many of our present unemployment difficulties, for example, are due to a sharp rise in unemployment of teenagers and those in their early twenties who are now a larger and increasing proportion of our society because of the post-war baby boom.
To illustrate what this means, consider the years 1949 and 1971 which had virtually identical overall unemployment rates, 5.9 percent. In 1971, however, the 16- to 24-year-old unemployment rate was 12.7 percent, while in 1949 it was 10.8 percent. And again, do not forget that the higher percentage rate in 1971 was applied to a larger portion of the total population than in 1949. Or, to put the matter slightly differently, if we were to calculate the ratio of unemployment rates for those 16 to 19 years of age to the unemployment rate for those 25 years and over, we would find that the annual average of this ratio was approximately three times higher in the late 1960’s than it was in 1949 or 1950; indeed, this ratio even in 1960 was 3.27, while at the end of the 1960’s it was almost 6.0. Slower population growth implies (though it does not guarantee for reasons that are outlined elsewhere in this Report) a steadier and relatively smaller flow of young people into the labor market and this in turn should simplify planning their absorption into the labor force.
It should be stressed, though, that reduced entry pressures on labor markets from slower population growth will not be realized quickly. Again, there is the momentum created by the post-war baby boom. Thus, the level of new entrants into the labor force during the 1970’s should average approximately 3.5 million or almost 700,000 persons per year more than the annual average for the 1960’s. By the 1980’s, however, growth in the number of labor force entrants should be nominal. What happens in the 1990’s, of course, depends on what our birthrates in the 1970’s actually prove to be.
Adversities, of course, can flow from slower population growth as well as advantages. For example, some economists advised the Commission that slower population growth might complicate the problem of maintaining full employment in our economy. An equal number of economists advising us said just the opposite. As just noted, slower population growth might as well simplify as complicate certain aspects of achieving full employment. So, on balance, it would seem that the Commission was correct in concluding that unemployment would not be a serious consequence of slower population growth. In essence, an unemployment problem can be solved by wise fiscal and monetary policies. Slower population growth is a very cumbersome and imperfect substitute for such wisdom.
Another difficulty of slower population growth noted by the Commission is that an older labor force may lack the vigor or flexibility to keep productivity growing at historic rates. A question also arises of whether a work force more uniformly distributed by age brackets will provide as many incentives (opportunities for promotion) as the present pyramidal age structure. In essence, a more uniform distribution of workers by age, while it may simplify certain absorption problems at the lower end of the age spectrum, may create new structural problems elsewhere in the system.
Clearly, one approach to solving such new problems is, as the Commission suggested, development of new and better programs of continuing education. The required structural adaptation may necessitate certain other changes as well, such as reinforcement of the basic market or pricing mechanisms in our economy which we depend on for the realignment of resources and economic activities.
To brush aside a separate statement on the issue of abortion on the grounds that it is based on religious or denominational “hang-ups” is to equate abortion —a matter of life and death— with simpler matters of religion such as observance of the Sabbath, dietary restrictions, abstention from coffee and alcoholic beverages, or other similar religious observances. I prefer to believe that even nonreligious persons would be concerned with the issue of life and death, even as to the unborn.
My opposition to legalized abortion is based on several concerns that touch a variety of issues, not the least of which is the effect such a law would have on millions of innocent and ill-informed persons. These concerns center around the rights of women to control their own bodies, the rights of the unborn child, the poor in our society, the safety of abortion, our country’s commitment to preventive as opposed to remedial measures, and our future as a democratic society.
Rights of Women to Control Their Own Bodies
I fail to understand the argument that women have a right to control their own bodies. Control over one’s body does not stem from a right, but depends on individual self-image and a sense of responsibility. I am not referring to the victim of rape or incest. And I am not referring to the poor for whom contraceptive services and techniques are not as accessible as we would want them to be.
With the recent advances in contraceptive technology, any woman who so desires is better able to control her fertility in a more effective way than has ever before been available. I accept the argument that, aside from total abstention, there is no perfect contraceptive; but no one can argue that effective contraceptives are more available now than ever before, but are effective only if used. Personal and contraceptive failures do not give women the “right” to correct or eliminate the so-called “accident” by destroying the fetus.
Advocacy by women for legalized abortion on a national scale is so anti-women’s liberation and women’s freedom that it flys in the face of what some of us are trying to accomplish through the women’s movement, namely, equality ―equality means an equal sharing of responsibilities by and as men and women.
With women already bearing the major burden for the reproductive process, men have never had it so good. Women alone must suffer the consequences of an imperfect contraceptive pill —the blood clots, severe headaches, nausea, edema, etc. Women alone endure the cramping and hemorrhaging from an intrauterine device. No man ever died from an abortion.
more serious question is the kind of future we all have to look forward to if
men are excused either
And laymen are not the only ones who reflect this attitude. Blame must also be placed on churchmen, who throughout the tumult and controversy surrounding legalized abortion, have expressed their concern only as abortion affects the moral and psychological problems of women, adroitly avoiding the issue of man’s responsibility to decisions connected with his role in the reproductive process.
Abortion After Rape and Incest
Pregnancy as a result of forcible rape is not common. As a rule, forcible rape involves a struggle, the effects of which can be outwardly detected. An observing parent or adult can detect the effects of such a struggle in a young girl. There is a personal responsibility for reporting such assaults. To shirk this duty under the guise of privacy, pride, or dignity is to permit abuses to go unpunished and to condemn an innocent girl to live in anguish through no fault of her own. Forcible rape should be reported as the crime that it is. Under such circumstances, the victim is given medical attention and medication that can prevent her from getting pregnant.
The key words in the definition of rape are: “without her consent.” There are varying degrees of consent and resistance. To permit abortion because a woman has bad a change of mind or heart after intercourse, is to deny justice to the unborn child.
Generally speaking, incest is more prevalent. Proving incest is difficult. Pregnancies resulting from incest are seldom reported or recorded as such. As in rape, abortion in this instance is punishing the child and the young girl.
Rights of the Unborn Child
In relation to the rights of the unborn child, we seem to be confused as to the meaning of human life before and after birth. The fetus does not become “a life” at a specific magic moment in the process of development. Some biologists support the foregoing and I quote from one of them:
Everyone of the higher animals starts life as a single cell —the fertilized ovum. .. . The union of two such sex cells (male germ cell and female germ cell) to form a zygote constitutes the process of fertilization and initiates the life of a new individual.” [Emphasis mine.] [Bradley M. Patten, Foundations of Embryology, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964, page 2.]
Neither is it a “mass of cells,” as anyone who has witnessed an abortion can testify to. Having witnessed some abortions, I would ask those in favor of abortion to visit any hospital where abortions are performed and request permission to see an aborted fetus. It will not be intact unless the abortion was performed by the saline method. Then it will be pickled, but intact.
“Wanted” and “Unwanted” Fertility
To talk about the “wanted” and the “unwanted” child smacks too much of bigotry and prejudice. Many of us have experienced the sting of being “unwanted” by certain segments of our society. Blacks were “wanted” when they could be kept in slavery. When that ceased, blacks became “unwanted” —in white suburbia, in white schools, in employment. Mexican-American (Chicano) farm laborers were “wanted” when they could be exploited by agri-business. Chicanos who fight for their constitutional rights are “unwanted” people. One usually wants objects and if they turn out to be unsatisfactory, they are returnable. How often have ethnic minorities heard the statement: “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you go back to where you came from?” Human beings are not returnable items. Every individual has his/her rights, not the least of which is the right to life, whether born or unborn. Those with power in our society cannot be allowed to “want” and “unwant” people at will.
The Poor in Our Society
I am not impressed nor persuaded by those who express concern for the low-income woman who may find herself carrying an unplanned pregnancy and for the future of the unplanned child who may be deprived of the benefits of a full life as a result of the parents’ poverty, because the fact remains that in this affluent nation of ours, pregnant cattle and horses receive better health care than pregnant poor women.
The poor cry out for justice and equality and we respond with legalized abortion.
The Commission heard enough expert testimony to the effect that increased education and increased earnings result in lower fertility rates. In the developed countries of the world, declining fertility rates are correlated with growing prosperity, improved educational facilities and, in general, overall improvement in the standard of living.
But it is not necessary to go beyond our own borders to verify this contention. Current data indicate that the same holds true for minority groups in this country. The higher the education attained by minorities and the broader the opportunities, the lower the fertility rate.
Thus, the sincerity of our concern for population growth (because of its effect on the quality of life for all people) will be tested, if, in the face of incontrovertible facts, we move rapidly to utilize alternatives to abortion in order to reduce fertility.
The Safety of Abortion
The general public has not been given all the facts on the dangers, risks, and side effects resulting from abortion. On the contrary, we have been told that abortion is a “safe and simple” procedure, as easy as “extracting a tooth.”
These are the facts. In Japan, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Sweden, England, and the United States, studies and surveys indicate that abortions are not that safe.
In Japan, for example, a survey conducted in 1969 by the Office of the Prime Minister revealed an increasing percentage of seven different complaints reported by women after abortion. These include increases in tubal pregnancies, menstrual irregularities, abdominal pain, dizziness, headaches, subsequent spontaneous miscarriage, and sterility.
Although one could argue that abdominal pain, dizziness, and headaches can be experienced by anyone, sterility, tubal pregnancy, and subsequent miscarriages are after-effects that have been reported in other countries.
From the Hungarian Women’s Journal, April 17, 1971, No. 16, come the following statistics:
At every 87th abortion, surgery (uterus) perforation occurs.
At every 40th abortion, hemorrhaging complications set in, to such degree that the woman has to be hospitalized and again requires medical help.
Every 55th abortion is followed by inflammation.
Totaled up, this means that complications can be expected at every 25th abortion; or, out of every 100,000 abortions, 4,000 patients must be hospitalized and require close medical attention. There were 12 maternal deaths out of 278,122 abortions recorded in New York after abortion became available on request.
Dr. Donald L. Hutchinson, Chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, February 16, 1971, as follows:
A survey of complications following 1,400 therapeutic abortions showed that about 10%, or 140, of the women had significant medical complications following the procedure. The most serious complication was one death which occurred during surgery made necessary by the failure of the method—injection of salt—used to induce the abortion.. . . Among 1000 women aborted by the “D and C” method (dilation and curettage) there were six that required major surgery as a result of laceration of the wall of the womb. In several cases the womb had to be removed. Among the 400 women on whom the salt solution injections were used, the most serious complications resulted from the injection of the solution into blood vessels. In three other cases there was evidence that the salt had gotten into the circulatory system and had been carried around the body... . in another case there were transient signs of brain damage while other cases included infections and the loss of blood through hemorrhaging, with the result that 5% of the 1,400 required blood transfusions.
Numerous other statistics on the after-effects of abortion exist, but are not included for lack of space. However, the New York experience, which is being touted as “highly successful” cannot go unchallenged.
Mr. Gordon Chase, New York City Health Services Administrator, in testimony before the Commission’s hearings in New York City on September 27, 1971, reported that New York had experienced a birth decline since the advent of the abortion law. The fact is that the entire nation experienced a birth decline during the same period without legalized abortion.
The reduction in maternal deaths in New York, as reported by Mr. Chase, was credited to abortions. This is an assumption and not a proven fact. The decline in birthrates obviously, in itself, accounts for the decline in maternal mortality. Besides, maternal mortality declined throughout the country.
Recent statistics indicate that over 60 percent of abortions performed in New York were performed on out-of-state residents. Complications and deaths occurring as a result of abortions performed in New York on out-of-state women would not be recorded in New York; therefore, any New York statistics on the safety of abortion are challengeable at every level. Statistics can be categorized in different ways to support different conclusions.
Infant mortality rates are not reduced by killing an unborn child. How sad and incriminating that quality health facilities and services, denied to the poor for lack of money, are being used for performing abortions instead of being utilized for healing of the sick poor. But then, one represents a profit and the other an expense. It is all a matter of values.
Our Commitment to Preventive Measures
Although we pride ourselves on being a nation that believes in “a stitch in time saves nine,” we really do not practice it. The Commission’s Report includes a section on “Methods of Fertility Control” which I consider an excellent exposé of this nation’s lack of commitment to the development of safer and more effective preventive measures for fertility control. If it is true that this society does not want to see abortion used as a means for population control, then I, for one, will expect an immediate and dramatic allocation and distribution of resources into the field of research on reproductive physiology; the development of safer, more effective, and more acceptable methods of fertility control for everyone —men and women— plus wide-scale distribution of same throughout the country. The degree of swiftness this nation employs in moving in that direction will measure the extent of its commitment to check population growth through preventive measures and not with abortion.
Our Future as a Democratic Society
The ease with which destruction of life is advocated for those considered either socially useless or socially disturbing instead of educational or ameliorative measures may be the first danger sign of loss of creative liberty in thinking, which is the hallmark of a democratic society. [Leo Alexander, M.D., The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 241, July 14, 1949.]
In order to persuade the citizen that he controls his destiny, that morality informs decisions and that technology is the servant rather than the driving force, it is necessary today to distort information. The ideal of informing the public has given way to trying to convince the public that forced actions are actually desirable action... . we are consenting to our own deepening self-destruction. [Ivan Illich, Celebration of Awareness, New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday & Co., Inc., page 4.]
When one considers that medical science has developed four different ways for killing a fetus, but has not yet developed a safe-for-all-to-use contraceptive, the preceding quotes cannot be dismissed as the ramblings of extremists.
I believe that, in a society that permits the life of even one individual (born or unborn) to be dependent on whether that life is “wanted” or not, all its citizens stand in danger.
As long as we continue to view abortion as a solution, we will continue to avoid facing the real issue —that abortion treats the symptom and neglects the disease. When you consider that more than half of all abortions performed in New York were performed on women under 24 years of age (and not on “those unfortunate women who could not face the prospect of still another child”), you begin to get a glimpse of one aspect of the “disease.” When you consider the current rush to reform the welfare system because the cost has gotten out of hand supposedly as a result of “all those children being born to those lazy women,” but subsidies profit-making entities suffer not one iota, one begins get a glimpse of the disease.
When all of our people have access to the same benefits, advantages, and opportunities, abortion will not be necessary.
The Immediate Goal
I do not agree that “the policies recommended here all lead in the right directions for this nation, and generally at low costs.” It seems to me that too many of the policies we have recommended, both explicitly and implicitly, are in the wrong direction and have heavy social-psychological-environmental costs associated with them I believe that it is critically important that population growth be stabilized. To this end, I concur with Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, President Nixon’s former science advisor, who wrote: “The prime task of every human institution should be to halt population growth. . . the first great challenge of our, time is insuring that there are no more births than deaths. Every human institution, school, university, church, family, government, and international agency, should set this as its prime task.” In addition to this concern for population stabilization, I must go beyond and say that the present size and distribution of the population in the United States is inconsistent with the traditional values of individual freedom, individual justice, and the true spirit of democracy. Thus, the population problem has a broader dimension. As stated in the introduction, the population issue raises profound questions of what people want, what they need, and what people are for. It is against this broader perspective that we have to measure the cost and direction of our population policies.
A common thread which underlies many aspects of the “population problem” is the rapid growth of urban areas of unprecedented size. The rapid rate and extent of population concentration is clearly illustrated in the growth of urban areas of one million or more people:
If we had wished to avoid this massive concentration of people we could have done so by avoiding, not only population growth, but economic growth. Our huge urban areas are essentially creatures of economic forces evolved for economic ends. The motivating forces have been economies of scale, specialization and division of labor, profit to the developer, and efficiency in production. Thus, there is a direct linkage between our economy and population problems.
The result of these unbridled economic forces has been the creation of an almost totally man-made living environment —built initially by economic necessity and now reflective of only a narrow portion of the full range of human needs and concerns. As we rapidly become a nation that is almost totally urban-industrial, our man-made environments will increasingly shape our individual and collective behavior. Since we are presently products of environments of our own uncertain and narrow making, it seems obvious we had best be sure we are “making man” deliberately and consonant with his highest human potentials in the future.
In earlier times, our deference to economic forces for ordering our existence was necessitated by the struggle for subsistence. The pressure for sheer physical survival in an agriculturally based economy made a virtue of pursuing one’s own competitive self-interest. However, our rapidly increasing affluence makes survival concerns more and more inappropriate as goals around which to order our lives. The decreasing importance of survival concerns is reflected in the growth of our real family incomes which were roughly $2,400 in 1939, $9,400 in 1969, and are expected to be in excess of $21,000 by the year 2000. Another indication of our new-found affluence is shown by the fact that the proportion of the population in poverty has dropped from roughly 60 percent in 1929 to 12 percent today.
It seems clear, then, that a few select nations are rapidly entering a new age of human history where an increasing majority will live far beyond subsistence. However, our present values and institutions have been evolved for the express purpose of coping with the problem of marginal survival. Now, man has suddenly been deprived of his traditional economic purpose. We have been caught off guard by our success. We have only begun to realize how far we have come, let alone to think what might lie beyond. Thus, the fundamental question of our time arises: Are our contemporary values and institutions, inherited from a subsistence era, adequate or even desirable in coping with the problems and potentials of relative affluence, sophisticated technologies, and huge population agglomerations? There is mounting evidence which suggests that our continued reliance upon traditional economic forces will lead us into a population distribution future, as well as a larger American future, that is neither wanted nor desirable.
Economic— Research data show that our larger urban areas are growing because of the momentum of natural increase and in-migration rather than because of any significant economies of scale associated with their size. It appears that an urban place of 200,000 people is as efficient as one of several million. Therefore, the economic rationale for allowing the size of our urban areas to increase is marginal at best.
Political— We value our democratic processes; yet, other things being equal, it appears to be more difficult to exercise our democratic prerogatives as the size of the political unit increases. First, as the number of citizens increases, the time that can be spent with any one of them by a government official decreases. Second, as urban size increases, there is a more than proportionate increase in public service demanded; thereby putting an even greater burden upon the democratic processes. Third, with size comes a complexity which makes it increasingly difficult for the average citizen to maintain the “relative political maturity” necessary to effectively participate in the decision-making processes. Fourth, the trend toward metropolitan government will aggravate the first three impediments to a “grass-roots” democracy.
Social— We tend to judge the “goodness” of our urban concentrations by whether or not they seem to induce such behavioral extremes as criminality, mental illness, high divorce rates, etc. The few crude studies that have been conducted have been largely inconclusive but the implicit conclusion has been: since our big cities don’t produce much bad behavior, they therefore must be good places to live. However, since man is so highly adaptable, he can tolerate very undesirable environments without exhibiting pathological behavior. Clearly, reliance upon crude “tolerance” indicators to measure our social well-being will insure our living in an environment without the beauty and serenity of the countryside, without the stability and sense of community of a small town, and within the culturally desolate confines of a homogeneous suburban social layer.
Environmental— It has been conclusively documented in the Commission’s research that large population agglomerations aggravate environmental problems. This includes increasing air pollution, increasing noise pollution, decreasing access to open spaces, increasing travel time to work, increasing respiratory ailments, and adverse climatic changes. To make things worse, our research has also shown that it is oftentimes more expensive to cope with these difficulties in a larger urban environment.
Diversity— We value diversity as a precondition to freedom since freedom of choice is meaningless without something to choose from. And yet, a continuation of present distribution trends will largely narrow living choices to large urban agglomerations and will’ thereby eliminate a major element of diversity from our lives.
Opinion Polls— We are becoming an increasingly urban nation against the will of an absolute majority of the population. Our opinion poll survey showed that 53 percent of the population preferred a small town or country environment. Over 50 percent wanted the federal government to slow the growth of the large urban areas and over 50 percent wanted the federal government to encourage growth of smaller places. Implementation of policies consistent with these preferences would give people a greater diversity of living environments to choose from.
It seems clear, then, that we are blundering into a population distribution pattern which is unwanted by the majority of Americans. Historically, the pattern of urbanization has been a by-product of the economic imperatives of industrialization. Thus, we have trusted the control of our population distribution patterns largely to the workings of the marketplace. Only now are we learning the central weakness of the market system: The market has no inherent direction, no internal goal other than to satisfy the forces of supply and demand. With increasing abundance the market system continues to direct human activities into accustomed economic channels —yielding an increasing production and consumption of an ever larger volume of ever less valued goods. Robert Heilbroner notes that the danger exists that the market system, in an environment of genuine abundance, may become an instrument which liberates man from real want only to enslave him to purposes for which it is increasingly difficult to find social and moral justification.”
What is required, then, is a realization that to solve the population problem” requires us to create a new relationship between the economic aspects of existence and human life in its totality. Our affluence not only makes it possible but makes it imperative that we go beyond strictly economic concerns and become creative architects rather than passive pawns of our own environment. What we need as a starting point are national goals or guiding principles which go beyond a concern for mere quantity —in short a quality of life manifesto. I present the following as a suggestive listing of those individual and collective goals we might want to pursue as we become a post-industrial society:
1. Efficiency: Efficient production is desirable but not so desirable that in an affluent society it should take precedence over higher human values. In other words, we should be willing to accept some economic inefficiency as an inevitable but necessary price in realizing noneconomic values.
2. Growth: Just as population growth can reach disastrous proportions, so can economic growth. For example, if the rest of the world were consuming at our level, we would quickly exhaust available resources. Our continued high rates of growth are predicated upon continuing disparities among nations of the rest of the world. Therefore, we need to moderate our growth ethic and begin to create the society envisioned by John Stuart Mill:
. . . in which while no one is poor, no one desires to be richer, nor has any reason to fear being thrust back by the efforts of others to push themselves forward... There would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social progress; as much room for improving the Art of Living and much more likelihood of its being improved, when minds ceased to be engrossed by the art of getting on.
3. Equity: Elimination of poverty in an affluent society through overall increases in real income is too slow and unjust. Further, large disparities in income will only serve to encourage further demands for economic growth as those less advantaged note their relative rather than absolute income position. A reduction in inequity is a necessary precondition to justice as well as to the gradual attainment of a dynamic, steady state economy.
4. Democracy: Big business requires big government to control, big unions to bargain effectively, and big cities as productive economic mechanisms. In each case, the individual comes to feel that he just “can’t make a difference” as his political power is swamped by huge, complex organizations. Therefore, if we prize our democratic processes, we had best be willing to seek a population level and design our institutions so that they are compatible with democracy.
5. Environment: We can no longer assume the arrogant role of mastery over nature; rather, we must learn to live in balance and harmony with our environment. This means we must be sensitive to the possibility of world wide depletion of resources and to the domestic aspects of environmental degradation— particularly in our large urban areas.
6. Life Style: Finally, and perhaps most important, we need to insure a physical environment that is conducive to a variety of life styles. Underlying this is a recognition of the supremacy of the individual. This was well stated by the Eisenhower Commission on National Goals: “The first national goal to be pursued . . . should be the development of each individual to his fullest potential.... Self-fulfillment is placed at the summit.... All other goods are relegated to lower orders of priority.. .“ But what conditions are most conducive to self-fulfillment? Do the expressed and implied policies in this report enhance the creation of a physical and social environment compatible with human actualization? Too often they do not. The following points will briefly illustrate why.
Work— We have become a very productive society but at great expense to the fulfillment to be gained through our work. Most people are now alienated from their work, viewing it only as a means of acquiring the money to satisfy other needs. The excessive specialization and division of labor deprives the worker of a sense of completion and purpose in his productive process.
Nature— Our man-made environments have isolated man from his historical habitat and thus deprived him of an important life perspective. Whereas the agrarian environment forced a realization of man’s finitude in relation to the ecologic totality of the earth, the urban environment allows an arrogance of power since man is living in a world of his own making. Seldom is there a sense that man has not created all. The hubris engendered by this anthropocentric environmental perspective may help to explain our current despoliation and disregard for that seemingly outside of man’s created domain.
Community— In our search for personal identity through goods acquired and occupational status achieved we have been willing to move to wherever there were the greatest economic opportunities. These high rates of geographic mobility in search of social status have destroyed our sense of community.
Family— With the transition to an urban-industrial economy we have had to forsake the extended family since it was no longer an economically productive mechanism. With its economic reason to exist undermined, the social rationale was not insufficient to insure its continuity. With further industrialization came specialized demands for education and the traditional educational role of the family was subsequently lost as well. Now, with further economic “progress” we have a developing interest in child-care centers for working mothers. Although I can grant the pragmatic desirability of such institutions within an urban-industrial context, it saddens me to think that we may soon see the day when the last significant role of the family —the love and warmth of the mother— will soon disappear just as did the economic and educational roles.
In conclusion, as a rural-agrarian society, we had many of the life style elements that we now look for in vain: our sense of belonging to, and finding identity in, the family and community, knowing that there was understanding, concern, and compassion deep felt by our peers and neighbors, and being able to exert influence on the political and economic institutions of our community and society. These parts of our lives and more are being lost in our passion for affluence and in the overwhelming surge of sheer numbers of people. Surely it is time for those in control of our political and economic institutions, our leaders, to begin to create conditions wherein the highest qualities of human existence can more fully come to fruition.
The Commission asks, what effect will slowing population growth have on the
health of the economy? It concludes, with minor exceptions, that slowing
population growth will not be detrimental to the economic interests of the
American people. The Commission does not ask what effect the American economy
has on the noneconomic interests and values of the people of this country and
the world; a world increasingly characterized by overcrowding, resource
depletion, ecological imbalances, and individual alienation. Put another way, is
an economic system predicated on the principles of productivity and efficiency
While the Commission is correct in concluding that slowing population growth will not necessarily prejudice economic interests, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the system itself is destructive of a broad range of values closely held by the American people, including the job security of significant numbers of people.
Unemployment will continue to be a difficult problem for the next several years. The reason is that the rate of increase in the supply of human resources will be high, and continuing competitive pressure for efficiency will reduce demand for labor per unit of work output.
The best predictor of the increase in the labor supply each year is the number of people born about 20 years earlier. In 1950, about 3.65 million people were born in the United States, and these people entered labor force pool about 20 years later, in 1970. By 1955, births had increased to 4.13 million, so the labor force will have to accommodate more new laborers in 1975 than in 1970 if the unemployment rate is to stay constant at its present level. By 1957, births had reached 4.33, so by 1977, the labor force will have to accommodate an increase of almost 20 percent over the number of new workers as in 1970.
The problem of absorbing this increasing number of new workers into the labor force each year will be rendered particularly difficult by the strong pressure for efficiency. Each year, the work output per worker is expected to increase. This means that the number of workers required for a given amount of work is constantly dropping. Thus, at the very period in the nation's history when a great many new jobs are required, the pressure for efficiency is reducing the demand for new workers.
The magnitude of the drop in demand for workers over the last several years is quite surprising.
For example, in 1950, scheduled air carriers employed 8.1 personnel for every million revenue passenger miles of transportation provided. By 1968, only 2.6 personnel were employed to provide the same mount of transportation.
From 1950 to 1968, the number of men employed in the oil and gas industries to deliver one quadrillion British Thermal Units of energy dropped from 28.4 to 11.5.
From 1950 to 1969, the number of people employed on farms to deliver 100 units of farm output decreased from 11.6 to 3.8.
This tremendous reduction in number of workers required per unit of work delivered in all existing industries and businesses means that there must be a tremendous increase in the number of new enterprises in the next 10 years if unemployment is to be kept at a level of six percent of the labor force.
The problem is compounded, because not only will here be continuing reduction in the number of workers per unit work output, but, in addition, there are a number of major industries in which there will be a reduction in the amount of work output, because of market saturation.
A particularly striking example is the aerospace industry. In 1970, the total number of jet aircraft used by all scheduled airlines in the world was only about 5,000 Boeing 707 equivalents. In 1972, at least seven major new models of large jet aircraft are being manufactured in several countries. The number of copies of these models that would have to be produced in order for the manufacturers to yield to a reasonable return on invested capital is very large. In fact, the world jet fleet would have to be at least doubled from present size. Since load factors (percent of seats filled) in commercial scheduled airlines had dropped to less than 50 percent in the early 1970’s, and domestic demand for seats only increased two percent in 1971, it is difficult to see how demand for new models of aircraft can hold up. Consequently, there will probably be still more layoffs in the aerospace industry in the next few years. This could have an important effect on the entire economy, for two reasons. First, the industry uses about 60,000 workers for each new model of aircraft manufactured; this is about one-tenth of one percent of the entire labor force. Second, jet aircraft is the most important single export item of the nation. Slackening of sales would intensify an already deteriorating balance of trade situation.
These problems are compounded by the prospect of increased costs resulting from environmental deterioration and escalating demands on our social and political institutions. What this suggests is that demographic trends, like environmental pollution, impose costs that the market economy traditionally has externalized or failed to take into consideration. That the present economic system is no longer representative of the beneficial interests of the American people and in fact, in conflict with the material conditions of the modern world, should not be discounted.
The Commission has asked: “Can government adapt to the new realities and fragility of our existence as the pace of our lives accelerates, the world grows more crowded, technology multiplies life’s complexities, and the environment is increasingly threatened?” It concludes, “. . .slowing down the rate of population growth would ease the problems facing government in the years ahead: . . .“ This is not a particularly responsive answer to the question posed. Perhaps the Commission did not intend otherwise.
Government has been defined as, “that form of fundamental rules and principles by which a nation or state is governed, or by which individual members of a body politic are to regulate their social action.” Accordingly, the question posed by the Commission cannot be answered by statistical projections or cost benefit analysis. Rather, we must ask if the rules and principles of government and social behavior are adequate to meet both the just demands of the people and the dictates of demographic and ecological imperatives. This question can profitably be viewed as three distinct inquiries.
First, what are the rules and principles of government in the United States; or, in other words, what is government for. One response to this question has been given by Arthur S. Mifier of the George Washington University Law faculty and a contributor to the Commission’s research project: “The raw material of -modern government is business, taxation, utility regulation, agricultural control, labor relations, housing, banking and finance, control of the security market —all our major domestic issues— are phases of a single central problem: namely, the interplay of economic enterprise in government. . .“ While it cannot be denied that modern government undertakes programs to accomplish noneconomic objectives, it can readily be seen that there is considerable truth in the observation that, “the business of government is business.” Indeed, the dominant analytical perspective taken throughout this Report supports a predominantly economic interpretation of the role of government.
The second question is to what ends are the rules and principles of government applied. This can be answered in a number of ways. For example, the ends can be equated with “values.” It is generally agreed that one of the primary stated goals or values of government in the United States is the promotion and enhancement of individual freedom for all the people. Thus, the “government” pursues the goal of “freedom” through the vehicle of the “free market” and the maintenance of competitive economic conditions. Fundamental to this particular notion of “freedom” is a reliance on the “invisible hand” or classical laissez-faire economics.
Another end or goal of the rules and principles of government can be ascertained by analyzing the distribution of wealth in society. By this standard, the end of “government” can reasonably be understood as seeking to maximize the satisfactions of the dominant forces in society, that is, the owners of the means of production. However, it has been forceably argued by the sociologist Max Weber that freedom and wealth are, in fact, one in the same:
The exact extent to which the total amount of ‘freedom’ within a given legal community is actually increased depends entirely upon the concrete economic order and specifically on property distribution. In no case can it be simply deduced from the content of the law.
The final question is, can the present political economy (government) of the United States cope with the demands presently being placed upon it. A. E. Keir Nash, formerly a director of research and now a consultant for the Commission, responded to this question as follows:
There is good reason to doubt the capacity of the American governmental system to accommodate a third 100 million citizens in the final decades of the 20th century. There are strong grounds for doubting the ability of the government both to maintain political order and to attain social justice among a citizenry of 300 million.
Dr. Nash goes on to note two fundamental failures of American government. First, is an historical failure to fulfill its basic promises of freedom and equality. Second, is the failure of government, “to shift government actions —so as to make them appropriate to the increasingly crowded world in which we live.”
Legislative and executive policymaking continues largely to be based upon log-rolling and incremental solutions to problems in the society and the economy which are not genuine solutions at all. Such pseudo-problem-solving may work respectably when the basic structures of the economy, the society and the environment are not in flux. They may be admirable in a largely empty and unsettled country, half slave and half free. Yet they are wholly unsuited to the problems which confront Americans today. The politics of yesterday is simply not suited to the needs of tomorrow.
The Commission chose to reject the evidence militating toward this conclusion. I cannot.
Although I fully share the goals of ending discrimination and providing equal opportunity for women, I disagree that passage of the Equal Rights Amendment would be a useful step in that direction. On the one hand, the Equal Rights Amendment would accomplish very little for women; what is needed is a specific body of legislation, federal and state, to end discriminatory practices and open up opportunity. On the other hand, the Equal Rights Amendment would have a destructive effect in that it would render invalid present state laws protecting women —particularly women workers— against certain kinds of injustice and hardship. For this reason, I do not support the recommendation endorsing the Equal Rights Amendment.
I believe the Commission should leave decisions on the amounts of funds necessary to the proper authorities. Such amounts may be either lesser or greater than those recommended in these sections.
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