by Susan F. Newcomer.
Addressing population growth in human terms, not as the bugbear “overpopulation,” necessitates addressing sexuality and childbearing, two particularly sensitive topics.
Over the years, Quakers have addressed “episodes of sexual activity” as “sacred, as an expression of a couple’s love for each other” and addressed contraception by saying “the separation of sexual intercourse and reproduction via contraception is appropriate.”
In my experience as a social demographer interested in research on family planning, I know there are several actions that will make a difference. They are:
- Making sure that all girls worldwide get at least an 8th grade education.
- Working with local groups that address climate and conservation issues to include family planning programming in their work.
- Educating all people of all ages about respecting and protecting their bodies and reproductive rights. Providing age-appropriate basic education about bodies and sex does not harm children.
- Respecting people’s desires not to marry and/or have children. Families come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- Providing information about and easy access to a range of contraceptives to all women and men in every country. States where contraceptives are accessible and affordable are also the states that have lower abortion rates and lower population growth rates.
Getting the message out that having fewer people everywhere is essential for care of the earth.
Susan F. Newcomer is a demographer who retired from the US National Institutes of Health in 2017. She is a member of the Chapel Hill NC Friends’ Meeting and the QEW Population Working Group.