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Created: July 21, 2002
Latest Update: July 21, 2002

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U.N. Funds and Abortion

Teaching Essay Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individaul Authors, July 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.

This essay is based on a New York Times Editorial on Tuesday, July 23, 2002: Population-Control Politics Backup. U.S. to Withhold Family Plan Money By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Filed at 9:14 p.m. ET. July 21, 2002. Backup.

President Bush's withholding of $34 million dollars previously approved for the United Nations Population Fund presents a complex ethical dilemma that will come up for discussion this Fall in our moot court program. Some of the ethical issues involved:

  • Relationship between genocide and population control.
  • Individual vs. community in right to reproduction.
  • Effects of social class, race, and ethnicity on enforcement of population control.
  • Evidence on ability of sovereign governments to feed and provide basic necessities to their citizens.
  • Relative valuing of adequate care to preserve life and freedom to produce life.
  • Religious convictions on related rights of both individuals and children (and potential children).
  • Relative positions on abortion.
  • Political policy on the United Nations and support of its programs.
  • Ethical position on honoring past promises.
  • Analysis of actual conditions on which Bush's refusal to honor the agreed-upon funding was based. Whose data, whose word shall we trust?
  • Extent of control sovereign governments are willing to cede to the United Nations, to the World Court.
  • Relative positions on contraception.
  • Etc., etc. etc.

Even this partial list would seem to establish the complexities that must be addressed in discussing the issues of population control, abortion, and our imposition of values on foreign sovereigns in exchange for the financial support of the US.


  • Population Research Institute

    • Mission statement of Population Research Institute Notice that the Institute is funded by other institutions and by private donors. None of these institutions or donors are named. That means that I cannot tell whether most of them are well-known for either their left or right perspectives. There is no statement that the mission is The mission states that is a non-profit organization. That means only that the objective of the organization is not to generate profit for its owners or sponsors. That doesn't mean that high salaries and other donations are not awarded as part of the institution's financial structure. Pay attention to such statements. They will tell you much about the site.

      Also pay attention to emotion-laden terms in the description of the mission:

      "Founded in 1989, Population Research Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization dedicated to objectively presenting the truth about population-related issues." In an age when we are necessarily concerned about the complex ethics and human rights issues, "the truth" is not something to which anyone is privy. There are many perspectives that must be carefully examined. So the truth raises a red flag alert to a single perspective touted as the "true and correct" perspective. If you site this resource, you should indicate such concerns, so that your reader will know you entertained seriously the questions of authority and power.

      "* To make a case against the widely held, but fundamentally wrongheaded, development paradigm which places economic and population growth in opposition to each other." "Fundamentally wrongheaded" is conclusionary. That is, it merely states a conclusion, and pejoratively so. There are many complex issues in population control over which reasonable people may disagree. To suggest that those are "wrongheaded" (read "stubborn, illogical, not too bright) who believe that economic growth is near impossible where there is unchecked population growth is to insult those with whom we disagree. That may work politically, but it is simply unacceptable in an academic analysis in which all perspectives for which valid evidence is presented deserve a good faith hearing. The role of education is not to persuade, but to inform, thus placing the means to persuasion and choice in the hands of those we educate. Consider the importance we place on making available to you the arguments of left/right and all the interstitial perspectives.