What is below was compiled and produced by Linda Greenhouse and Reva B. Siegel in their Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that shaped the abortion debate before the Supreme Court’s ruling.
According to Greenhouse and Siegel, this group changed its name to Population Connection and, in 2010, had a membership of 30,000.
Zero Population Growth
We Americans have a tendency to equate growth with progress. We think that every time we build a new dam or highway we have made some progress. It never seems to occur to us that instead of making progress we are barely keeping even. The new highway is usually built because the old highway has become inadequate to carry the ever increasing number of cars. Why don’t we think about stopping the increase in the number of cars, instead of increasing the number of highways? Or, to put it more directly, why don’t we stop the constant increase in the number of people? Less increase in the population means less increase in the number of cars.
Usually, when we build a dam it is because the greater population requires more electricity and water. Sometimes it is because we have destroyed the forests of a region—causing floods. The forests are frequently cut down to build more houses for the ever growing population. Thus we have a chain reaction type of effect. First we cut down the forests to build more houses for the expanding population, then we start to have floods because the natural growth has been removed from the mountains, then we build a dam to prevent the floods. Each step costs a great deal of money and scars the countryside. It all starts with population growth.
Growth means that the population expands and more facilities are built to take care of the greater number of people. Progress means that a distinct improvement has taken place in the quality of our lives. More people living in our neighborhood does not necessarily improve the quality of our lives. Usually, in fact, more people crowded into the same area results in a decrease in the quality of life for the inhabitants of the area. If your life is polluted by the presence of too many people too close to you, then be prepared for the situation to get worse. The population of the United States continues to grow, and all those extra people have to fit in somewhere. This country has reached the limit in terms of the number of people that can be supported comfortably. Of course, we could probably support more people at a survival level—but who wants that? In the 1890s, the last unused, unsettled land was taken up. Since then, we have been crowding more and more people into the same land area. Of course, there are still great uninhabited areas within the U.S., but these areas are, without exception, uninhabited for very good reasons. Either it is too hot, too cold, too mountainous, or there isn’t any water.
As we crowd more and more people into our country, we continually run into more and more problems of waste disposal. Somehow we have to get rid of all the trash and sewage created by these additional people. Unfortunately, we cannot afford adequate sewage treatment plants—we have to spend our money for more schools and colleges for the increasing population. So we dump the sewage into our lakes and rivers. The predictable result is that after a period of time the lakes and rivers become “dead.” The fish and wildlife die and we have a stinking mess instead of a useful and beautiful natural resource. We also dump vast quantities of waste into the atmosphere—over 500 pounds per year for each person in the country. It settles out as soot on our laundry and settles in our lungs as a possible cancer causing agent. When it gets bad enough we call it smog and it keeps us from seeing the scenery. In Los Angeles, one of the worst smog areas, people talk wistfully of someday having 1940 quality air.
Is There Any Hope of Stopping Population Growth?
YES! It is a realistic possibility. Some European countries have reached this goal. All that is required is that the average family size be two children. If there are only two children in a family, then the net long term growth is zero, because one child replaces the father and the other replaces the mother. In the United States it is that third and fourth child in a family that is causing population growth.
What Is Zero Population Growth, Inc. Doing?
ZPG is a non-profit, volunteer group which advocates that all measures be taken immediately to stem the tide of population growth.
1. That no responsible family should have more than two children. Any family wanting to care for more than two children should adopt further children. Adopting children does not increase the population.
2. All methods of birth control, including legalized abortion, should be freely available—and at no cost in poverty cases.
3. Irresponsible people who have more than two children should be taxed to the hilt for the privilege of irresponsible breeding….
ZPG has been in existence for only a few months, and already we have over 600 members. Funds collected from membership dues will be, and are being used to stop population growth. Many members are volunteering their time and energies to promoting ZPG’s goal.
The two most important lines of attack to be used in reaching our goal are:
1. Active lobbying in our legislatures and in the Congress for population oriented legislation—tax incentives for the smaller family and government support of birth control, including legalized abortion.
2. Advertising to reach the general public, which will popularize the two-child family and alert the public to the dangers of population growth.
Our goal is 1,000 members before the end of 1969—this goal is in sight and we expect to exceed it. By the end of 1970 our goal is 10,000 members. By joining ZPG you will be taking a concrete step to protect the environment.