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Planned Parenthood and the impacts of unchecked world population growth

Increased traffic in Beijing, China reveals China's new standing as the largest auto consumer.
Increased traffic in Beijing, China reveals China's new standing as the largest auto consumer.
Photo: AP/Andy Wong

Are you aware of how many people live on Earth?  There are almost 7 billion people inhabiting our little planet and according to Population Connection, 310,128,529 of those people live in the U.S..  Population control is not a new idea and it has, in the past, been carried out ruthlessly in some countries.  Thus, quite a few people have a prejudice against the idea of controlling population growth.  The need for population control is unmistakable, however, and urgent. The grassroots non-profit  Population Connection, formerly known as ZPG, has many educational tools for teachers who want to implement population studies in their curriculum and it encourages family planning for young adults. 

Unfortunately, there has recently been a lot of negative sentiment circulating among some republicans in regards to family planning centers and funding for them.  Planned Parenthood is a multifaceted reproductive health care provider that offers education and services to both sexes at their health centers nationwide.   These health centers provide young women access to, among many other things, emergency contraceptives like the Morning After Pill, STD testing or treatment, education on abusive relationships, and pregnancy education.  They do also provide information about and safe implementation of the much debated practice of abortion.  The service Planned Parenthood provides for so many communities is priceless because it gives women choices and information about those choices, not just whether they should abort or not, but how to be a healthy partner or mother in a healthy relationship.   For those who mistake family planning for "abortion planning" and adhere to the abstinence only education, here is some food for thought.

  1. Girls and boys are naturally curious at very young ages.  Without sexual education as they hit puberty and the access safe sex when they are more emotionally mature, then the greater their chance of getting pregnant.  Abstinence is definitely the way to go for young teens, but you try telling that to a teenage boy and his girlfriend in the backseat of his car.  It wasn't long ago in our own country when girls were expected to be wed before 18.  If you examine human history further yet, you'll find that girls were often marriageable not too many years after puberty.  Women have come a long way in extending their pre-relationship years, but the urges are still there and it's ridiculous to ignore them.
  2. Teenagers that are given a thorough education on sex, relationships, pregnancy, abortion, and the risks of sexually transmitted diseases would most likely wait to have sex or have only protected sex, thus reducing the incidence of abortions.  Knowledge is power, after all.

Curbing the population growth doesn't mean everyone has to stop having babies altogether.  It involves making an educated choice to have fewer children (preferably two:  one to replace you and your spouse when you pass away) when health insurance and advanced medicine is available; this ensures your children's' health/survival and support for yourself during your senior years.  The lack of medicines, in the past, was a key reason for having a large family.  There were more hands available to help in the farm work if death did strike.  Health insurance, access to medicine, and  vaccinations all contribute to a decreased mortality rate.  In our fortunate society, reasons for having children come down to a chance at giving our love to another and to continue the family name.  In the developing nations of the world, however, they are still working on building the medical support systems that we enjoy today.  Medicine alone will not be enough for many cultures to reduce their growing populations; education and sustainable technologies are also a necessity. 

**Take a moment to consider how an unchecked population can affect your environment and health.

  1. More people means urban sprawl - the expansion of cities and developments into rural areas- and this leads to lost agricultural lands, less permeable surfaces (more flooding), more pollutants reaching streams, lakes, and the ocean via run-off.
  2. More industrial pollution in the support of greater demand for products, thus leading to global warming and water and air quality decline and ultimately to more health problems for all lifeforms.
  3. More carbon emissions from more vehicles, leading to global warming.
  4. More crime as resources become depleted and competition for what's remaining becomes desperate.
  5. More viral outbreaks because more people will be living closer together.
  6. Less diversity of wildlife, wooded areas, and plant-life as land becomes more scarce and demand for housing increases.
  7. More wars as land and resources are consumed by growing numbers.
  8. Desperate and cruel actions like killing baby girls, the elderly, and the powerless in order to lower population stresses on individual civilizations.

Now consider what kind of life your children will have in this crowded world.  Perhaps providing education and opportunities for young women all over the world will allow us to give the fewer children we have today a more sustainable and healthier world tomorrow.  If you have any ideas or thoughts on the matter, please share them.  For more information on the population crisis, visit Population Connection online. 

If you have any comments, I'd love to hear them and thanks for tuning in.