Obama science czar John Holdren stated in a college textbook that “illegitimate children” born to unwed mothers could be taken by the government and put up for adoption if the mother refused to have an abortion.
Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, argued that “illegitimate childbearing could be strongly discouraged” as a socioeconomic measure imposed to control population growth.
As previously reported, WND has obtained a copy of the 1970s college textbook “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment” that Holdren co-authored with Malthusian population alarmist Paul R. Ehrlich and Ehrlich’s wife, Anne. The authors argued involuntary birth-control measures, including forced sterilization, may be necessary and morally acceptable under extreme conditions, such as widespread famine brought about by “climate change.”
On page 786, the authors wrote that one way to discourage illegitimate childbearing “might be to insist that all illegitimate babies be put up for adoption – especially those born to minors who generally are not capable of caring properly for a child alone.”
Alternatively, the authors suggested unwed mothers might place their babies up for adoption, writing: “If a single mother really wished to keep her baby, she might be obliged to go through adoption proceedings and demonstrate her ability to support and care for it.”
While observing that government-imposed coercive measures should be considered “only if milder measures fail completely,” the authors acknowledged extreme ecological situations could justify governmental intervention with coercive population control measures.
“It would even be possible to require pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, perhaps as an alternative to placement for adoption, depending on the society,” they write.
The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 2005, 68.8 percent of all African-American babies were born to unmarried women, while 30.5 percent of all white babies and 48 percent of all Hispanic babies were born out of wedlock.
Regarding teenage mothers, the federal agency reports the figures in 2005 were 16.8 percent of all births for African-Americans, 13.9 percent for Hispanics and 9.2 percent for whites.
‘General social deterioration’
The authors’ wish to control births to unwed and teenage mothers appears to derive from their concern that overpopulation leads to “general social deterioration.”
For instance, on page 838, they wrote the following: “If some individuals contribute to general social deterioration by overproducing children, and if the need is compelling, they can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility – just as they can be required to exercise responsibility in their resource-consumption patterns – providing they are not denied equal protection.” (Italics in original text.)
Nor do the authors see any constitutional protection for the right to bear children.
“Some people – respected legislators, judges, and lawyers included – have viewed the right to have children as a fundamental and inalienable right,” the authors continued on page 838. “Yet neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution mentions a right to reproduce.”
In a similar fashion, the authors argued that a right to privacy did not extend to an unlimited right to have children, elaborating on page 838 that, “Where the society has a ‘compelling, subordinating interest’ in regulating population size, the right of the individual may be curtailed. If society’s survival depended on having more children, women could be required to bear children, just as men can constitutionally be required to serve in the armed forces. Similarly, given a crisis caused by overpopulation, reasonably necessary laws to control excessive reproduction could be enacted.”
Coercive population control
Holdren and the Ehrlichs concede compulsory population control measures if implemented to prevent disasters resulting from uncontrolled population growth will be distasteful to those with moral objections.
Arguing that voluntary measures of family planning and birth control might not be enough, Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote on page 783 that compulsory birth control methods would need to be implemented when “massive famines, political unrest, or ecological disasters make their initiation imperative.”
In further defining this “disaster exception” in which compulsory methods including forced abortions and sterilization might become acceptable, if not necessary, Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote on the same page: “In such emergencies, whatever measures are economically and technologically expedient will be likeliest to be imposed, regardless of their political or social acceptability.”
And again, continuing on the same page, the authors wrote of compulsory population control measures: “Policies that may seem totally unacceptable today to the majority of people at large or to their national leaders may be seen as very much the lesser of evils only a few years from now.”
On page 784, the authors conclude the section by commenting: “Given the family size aspirations of people everywhere, additional measures beyond family planning will unquestionably be required in order to halt the population explosion – quite possible in many DCs [developed countries] as well as LDCs [less developed countries].”
In a section of the textbook on pages 786-789 devoted to considering “involuntary fertility control,” Holdren and the Ehrlichs discuss a variety of methodologies, including: an effort in the 1960s to vasectomize all fathers of three or more children in India; an effort in China to sterilize mothers after their third child; the development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired; the government issuance of a license entitling a woman to a given number of children; and adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods.
While in the next sentence the authors are careful to say a “far better choice” would be to control population by the “milder methods of influencing family size,” they also insist in the same sentence that efforts should be redoubled “to ensure that the means of birth control, including abortion and sterilization, are accessible to every human being on Earth within the shortest possible time.”
In the last sentence of the section on “involuntary fertility control,” the authors make clear even the most radical methods discussed in the section are morally acceptable to them under the right conditions of population emergency.
“If effective action is taken against population growth,” the authors note, “perhaps the need for the more extreme involuntary or repressive measures can be averted in most countries.”
“Compulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea, but the alternatives may be much more horrifying,” the authors concluded. “As those alternatives become clearer to an increasing number of people in the 1980s, they may begin demanding such control.”
Among the crises resulting from overpopulation that Holdren and the Ehrlichs saw as justifying government-imposed involuntary fertility control measures were “ecological collapses of various kinds, large-scale crop failures due to ecological stress or changes in climate and leading to mass famine; severe resource shortages, which could lead either to crop failures or to problems or both; epidemic diseases; wars over diminishing resources; perhaps even thermo-nuclear war.
“The list of possibilities is long, and over-population enhances the probability that any one of them will occur,” Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote on page 796. “Population control may be no panacea, but with it there is no way to win.”
The St. Petersburg Times’ fact-check website, Politifact.com, argued that in his Senate confirmation hearings, Holdren disavowed “optimal population” targets, a central thesis of the 1970s textbook, as a proper role of government.
While Holdren may have abandoned “optimal population” targets as a principle of public policy, an address he gave as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, subsequently published in Science Magazine in January 2008, shows he has adopted instead the standard of “sustainable well-being” as a guiding principle that could be utilized to set targets for acceptable population growth.
In that article, Holdren listed “continuing population growth” as a hindrance to realizing “sustainable well-being,” a point he supported by footnoting Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” thereby linking his current thinking with his 1970s-era thinking.
In that footnote, Holdren wrote that the “elementary but discomforting truth” of Ehrlich’s 1968 book “may account for the vast amount of ink, paper, and angry energy that has been expended in vain to refute it.”
Holdren’s “sustainable well-being” appears a nearly identical concept to what is known as the United Nations’ “Agenda 21”, articulating the concept of “sustainable development” that is currently institutionalized in the Division for Sustainable Development of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs.