Professor Matthew Connelly (Columbia University) recently presented a radio documentary about the population control movement, “Controlling People”, on the BBC, in three episodes.
The story of a radical social-engineering campaign that began with high-sounding ideals and why it didn’t work.
Part One: The “religion” of Malthusian ideology: The self-interested Western desire to keep down rising populations in the Third World: population-control ideology spread by men in wealthy countries.
Part Two: The Indian Emergency: Mass sterilization camps in India in the 1970s operated on eight million people, induced by payments and imposed with government pressure and, later, force. Social scientist Steven Mosher, then a supporter of population control, tells about the methods of the one-child policy in China: government lock-up and coerced abortion. But the rise of working women led to delayed marriage and reduced fertility on its own.
Part Three: Continuing Incomprehension. Fertility rates are falling, but the population-control ideology of the 1970s remains, targeting the poor with sterilization. A surrogacy program in India exploits the needs of the poor to satisfy the wishes of Western couples. “The disappearing female child” targeted by sex-selection abortion and infanticide. The continuing conflict among pop-controllers between advocates of sterilization and contraception.
I should note that there are some biases in the presentation: Professor Connelly frames the conflict as merely one between somewhat arrogant proponents of sterilization and more liberal supporters of voluntary contraception, and he treats voices of opposition to abortion and contraception as a “fanatical” religious element. Still, the presentation of the history and the issues is worthwhile.