POPULATION CONTROL IN
COMMUNITY ACTION ON
LATIN AMERICA NEWSLETTER
Vol. 2, No. 8
The legitimate demands of the women's in abortion. In Montevideo and Buenos
movement for control of our own bodies-- Aires it is estimated that there are three
abortion and birth control that's legal, abortions for every live birth. 2/5 of
safe, and abailable to all equally--are all maternal deaths are due to abortions.
being distorted by the U.S. government and It is clear that many Latin American women
private ruling class foundations into a are experiencing unwanted pregnancies and
means of repression of poor and Third World that illegal and unsafe abortion is a major
people. Population control programs, which means of controlling births. The question
use various forms of coercion, are increas- then becomes, who will control family
ingly being implemented in Third World planning and -whose interests will it serve?
countries and in U.S. ghettos, for ruling Birth control and safe abortion are desirclass interests. able fvor individual freedom and family welfare, but with demographic policy in
The question is not whether Third the hands of the imperialists, the goal is
World women want and need access to birth an efficient and rapid lowering of aggregate
control and family planning. It is the fertility, not the welfare of human beings.
right of human beings to control their
reproduction in accord with what they feel WHO FUNDS POPULATION CONTROL?
to be their best interests. Birth control Originally financed by elite private
has an obvious vital role to play in the organizations like Ford and Rockefeller
liberation of women. In some Latin American Foundations and the groups they fund, popcountries one of every two pregancies ends ulation control programs by 1968 received
55% of their funds from the U.S. Agency for PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN
International Development (AID). AID's In an effort to gain mass support for
1965 budget of $2.1 million foi population their population control programs, the
control has skyrocketed by 1973 to $125 ruling class conducts vigorous propaganda
million. At about the same time, AID fund- campaigns. An ad.in the New York Times
ing for all other health programs decreased in 1970 warns "civilized" Americans, "The
from $126 million in 1966 to $77 million in ever mounting tidal wave of humanity now
1969. Apparently the population explosion challenges us to control it, or be subin the Third World is such a serious threat merged along with all our civilized values
that it must attacked from both ends--in- ... a world with mass starvation in undercreased mortality as well as decreased developed countries will be a world of
fertility, chaos, riots, and war. And a perfect
breeding ground for Communism, We cannot International agencies are also in- afford a half dozen Vietnams or even one
creasing their involvement. In 1968 John more. Our won national interest demands
D. Rockefeller III took charge of the First that we go all out to help the underdevelopNational Policy Panel on Population esta- ed countries control their populations."
blished by the United Nations. It was proposed that the U.N. 's Population Trust Such ads are signed by ruling class
Fund be enlarged from $1.5 million to $100 families including the Mellons, Rockefellers,
million within a three year period. Part duPonts, McCormicks, Vanderbilts, Cabots,
of the program is carried out by the World Tafts, and others closely associated with
Health Organization, which has received at elite interests. They suggest that the
least $10 million. sole problem of the Vietnamese is too many
Vietnamese. The poor are poor because of Private foundations, like Ford and excessive breeding. At no time are the
Rockefeller, and organizations such as the realities of racism, sexism, imperialism,
Population Council and Planned Parenthood- and capitalism acknowledged. The fact
World Population, are still active in the that with 6% of the world's population,
field. ~the U.S. consumes 60% of the non-renewable
resources, is conveniently ignored.
PROFIT vs. PEOPLE
What are the reasons for this growing STERILIZATION IN THE THIRD WORLD
interest in population control? The rhe- In Latin America women's bodies are
toric tries to convince us that it is for actually being bought off by U.S. financed
purely humanitarian concerns--that population control is necessary for economic development in poor countries and the only way to rai-se the standard of living and provide a more abundant life for all people. However, the real concern of the U.S. ruling class is not humanitarian, but economic. Growing populations put pressure on natural resources and raw materials that U.'S.
corporations want to continue to exploit for private profit. Population pressures 0
may increase political instability and the potential for revolution.
?The 1952 report of the U.S. President's Ma terials Policy Commission concluded that the U.S. had the necessary resources to sustain its high standard of living only if we could rely on Third World supplies. It warns that population growth in these Areas presses hard on available natural resources.
family planning programs. In 1965, Jaime words: "This family planned its future."
Arango, a correspondent of the Colombian The next page shows a family with eight
daily El Siglo, reported that 40,000 women children living in misery in a shack, and
from rural areas and urban slums had been the words: "This family did not plan its
sterilized under the Association of Colom- future." Birth control information
bian Faculties of Medicine programs in a follows. It is a cruel hoax to imply';
two year period. The Association is heavily that affluence depends upon family funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to set planning. The connection bectwepan
up "family planning' programs in rural areas. poverty and family size does exist, but Arango charged that the experimental programs tFam7ily planning will not eliminate misery, had been conducted under the guidance of hunger, illiteracy, and exploitation.
North American doctors and consultants. He wrote that many women had been persuaded to The excellent Bolivian film Blood of
participate in the programs by money payments the Condor dramatizes the tragedy of up to $1.50, gifts of lipstick and artificial Indian women being sterilized without pearls, and offers of free medical services, their knowledge or consent by foreign doctors of the "Progress Corps". The
The Ford Foundation recently considered film is based on what are reported to be a pilot project in sterilization proposed by real life experiences of Bolivians with a North American businessman. He suggested U.S. sponsored population control programs.
that Ford invest $1 million in Housing Bonds in the Dominican Republic. The $80,000 per Latin American nations are being
year generated in interest would be used to increasingly high-pressured into establishpay any person $5-7 per month for the rest ing often unwanted population control
of his or her life, IF THE PERSON WOULD programs as a pre-condition for receiving
AGREE TO BE STERILIZED. The goal would be other forms of economic assistance. A
to attract young people of 18 to 215 years portion of Food for Peace program proceeds
,of age who have only a few children. For are to be used for voluntary programs to
impoverished Dominicans struggling to sur- control population growth in the recipient
vive, such an offer would be difficult to country. It is up to the President of the
"resist. Ford considered this proposal and U.S. to decide to what extent these rejected it, but in Costa Rica, U.S. AID voluntaryr" programs are being carried out.
set up a similar program called "Family Compliance is thus an important factor in
Planning Insurance." determining further aid.
,In Puerto Rico, sterilization is
already th-e main technique of population
control. In 1950 about one of every 5
deliveries in Puerto Rican hospitals was
followed by sterilization. Between 4 and
thousand sterilizations occur each year. .
tion of Puerto Rico operates clinics,
distributes free birth control pills and
has legally sterilized some 100,000 men
and women. By 1965, 34% of all the women of child-bearing age were sterilized.
People are persuaded to be sterilized
and to participate in birth control experiments through the skillful use of misleading propaganda. in pamphlets aimed at lower
class women, the connection between poverty and population growth is continually stressed. A booklet distributed in. Colombia b,,7 an
AID financed birth control clinic shows a
picture of a happy family with three children, 77
a good home, television, and car, and the
women as part of the free comprehensive health service. The Cuban government provides information and education on birth control, but makes no attempt to / .persuade Cubans to have either large or
.... ...small families. That isa personal and
Population control programs cannot be viewed in isolation from other mechanisms of U.S. imperialism. The women's movement must make a clear distinction between the goals of women's liberation and the aims \of the ruling class. We must insist that abortion and birth control be put into the context of demands such as free health
care, child care, no forced sterilization and no more deceptive population control programs in the Third World. Our demands will be progressive to the extent that all women's needs are voiced with them.
GUINEA PIGS -Sara BentleyA further illustration of the role
that racism, sexism and imperialism play Note: Thanks to Bonnie Mass and NACLA
in the area of population control is that Newsletter for much of the information : l.
experimentation with new contraceptives is used in writing this article.
carried out exclusively among the most exploited groups of the population--poor,
Third World women. The experimental W W
clinical program in Humacao, Puerto Rico 7 r
established the effectiveness of the pill. After the initial tests on Puerto Rican women, it was tried out in poor and work- .
ing class Mexican-American neighborhoods in o w
San Antonio and Los Angeles. Only after- $.4 J
4J EO SN1RIHSM
ward was it deemed "safe enough for affluent o 0
and middle-class white women.
The IUD was first tested in Puerto
Rico, then on black women at Harlem Hospital a C4
in New York, and in Sunflower County, Mississippi, and among poor black and white women in Atlanta. Injection methods have been tested among destitute women in Honduras, Brazil, and Chile.
These women are not given adequate D
warnings about possible side effects from P
these powerful dosages, nor do they receive rZ
sufficient follow-up care. 0 44 r
04 04~ 0
BIRTH CONTROL IN CUBA
It is of interest to note that 4J
socialist Cuba has accomplished what no 4 0
other Latin American country has--access to 4
safe abortion and birth control for all < M