“Today I hope we can agree first and foremost that government has no place
in the personal decisions a woman makes about whether to bring a child into the
world,” U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton told the delegates at the
Hague Forum. The Hague Forum is a meeting of government and non-government representatives
discussing the progress the world has made on population issues since 1994s UN
Conference on Population in Cairo, Egypt.
When it comes to family size, “that is a decision that should be made
freely and responsibly without government coercion,” Clinton said.
The Hague Forum produced the usual round of commentary about overpopulation.
The Boston Globe, for example, followed Paul Ehrlich’s lead with its editorial,
“A population Bomb.” World population will continue to boom, despite
the ongoing decline in total fertility rates, unless the United States increases
its family planning assistance to developing nations.
On the other side were conservatives such as Jay Ambrose who noted “Lester
Brown of the World Watch Institute is still watching and still announcing how
close we all have come to endless midnight, though … statistics still
show human welfare improving virtually any direction you look.”
There might be some middle ground here, though. Clinton, the Globe and Ambrose
all agreed that increasing the status and health options of women is of fundamental
importance for the 21st century.
Hillary Clinton urges an end to forced family planning. Mike Corder, Associated
Press, February 9, 1999.
Population summit. Jay Ambrose, Scripps Howard News Service, February 9, 1999.
A population time bomb. Boston Globe, February 8, 1999.
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