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GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS

December 16 -31, 2000

by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk
Communications Consortium Media Center,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005
202/326-8700

FAR-RIGHT SPIN ON POPULATION POLICIES UNDER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

The Weekly Standard's Jan. 1, 2001 issue, released Dec. 25, 2000, reported that President-elect George W. Bush "said his administration would be pro-life" and that he told Colin Powell "several weeks before naming him Secretary of State...[that Powell] would have to follow Bush's lead and eliminate any vestiges of the Clinton State Department's program to promote abortion around the world." The story reports that Bush intends "to reinstate the so-called Mexico City policy of Presidents Reagan and Bush senior that barred the use of American funds for groups promoting or performing abortions around the world" by either "sending a memorandum to Powell or merely by saying the old policy is restored." Link

 

GLOBAL POPULATION COVERAGE

Global Trends 2015, a report released Dec. 18 by the National Intelligence Council, "concluded that issues like the availability of water and food, changes in population and the spread of information and disease will increasingly affect the national security of the United States," according to a Dec. 18 New York Times story. Link

The Dec. 18 Los Angeles Times reported that the study offers "sobering predictions about the 'drivers,' or major forces, that will determine the [future] world," including predictions that "more than 3 billion people...[will be] living in 'water-stressed' regions, from Southern California to northern China" and that "while new biotechnology will dramatically lengthen average life spans in rich countries, old diseases will shorten life spans in some African nations by as many as 40 years." Link

The Dec. 18 Washington Post reported that "in stark demographic terms, the report paints what is in many ways a distressing portrait of planet earth in 2015, with the world's population having surged from 6.1 billion people today to 7.2 billion." The Post also reported that "ninety-five percent of the growth will be in developing nations, with nearly all of that occurring in urban areas," and that "the population of mega-cities larger than 10 million will double to 400 million." Global Trends 2015 was the result of a year-long study among all branches of the U.S. intelligence community.

The Associated Press reported Dec. 19 that "China hopes to cap its population at 1.6 billion by mid-century," according to a government policy paper released that day. The paper reiterated that China's one-child policy "must remain in place for the foreseeable future to keep [the country's] population from spiraling out of control." The Chinese government "has put a high priority on slowing China's population growth as it tries to eradicate poverty and lift the nation's living standards," though the one-child policy "has been blamed for a host of abuses," according to the AP story.

Several articles about declining populations were published. The Dec. 23 Economist reported that "for nearly 50 years now, women in a rising number of countries have been having fewer babies than their mothers did" and that "too few babies is emerging as a bigger worry in many countries -- not all of them rich -- than too many." Link

Trends in Russia made the news in a Dec. 28 New York Times article on "the flip side to Russia's decade-long epidemic of rising mortality: a baby bust of alarming speed and size, winnowing the nation's population by millions." The story noted that Russia's declines in fertility are "driven not by women's broader choices, but by the fact that many of their options -- marital, medical, social, financial -- have been all but obliterated by the earthquake that destroyed the Soviet Union." The article was published as part of a New York Times series on "Freedom's Toll" on Russian society. Link

The Associated Press reported Dec. 21 that "Japan's population in the last five years grew at its lowest rate since the end of World War II," causing the government "to reconsider the nation's strict immigration policies that have limited the employment of workers from overseas."

 

INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

The Dec. 23 Washington Post reported that in Brazil, the "popularity" of sterilization has led to a number of reproductive health problems for women in that country. The procedure "was technically illegal," but because it could be performed "under exceptional circumstances, such as cesarean births," it has led to an "alarmingly high use of cesarean sections" and corresponding birth-related deaths among mothers in that country. The popularity of sterilization has also "indirectly contributed to an AIDS crisis among Brazilian women by providing men a reason not to use condoms." Link

 

NEWS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ABORTION TRENDS

In Taiwan, the government "approved the sale of the abortion pill RU-486, conceding that a ban on the drug had not stopped women from taking it to end unwanted pregnancies," according to a Dec. 28 Associated Press story. The story noted official statistics that said "about 50,000 abortions were performed under [Taiwan's] national health program last year," but added that "gynecologists say the actual number is several times higher."

 

INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE AND PHILANTHROPY

Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo "will head a high-level panel on financing the needs of developing countries," according to the Dec. 16 Los Angeles Times. The panel will present recommendations to the United Nations in May 2001 "on ways that governments and private institutions can help increase the flow of aid, investment and trade to developing countries." The article noted that "official government assistance has dropped sharply over the last decade -- from 56% of all funds going to developing countries in 1990 to just 18% this year -- despite the dramatic growth experienced by industrialized countries during the same period."

The Dec. 21 Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that businessman Ted Turner "is directing the bulk of his latest round of international philanthropy toward reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS among young people in Africa." The grants, which total more than $1.7 million, are disbursed through the United Nations Foundation.

 

OPINIONS AND EDITORIALS

Columnist Judy Mann wrote in the Dec. 20 Washington Post about President-elect George W. Bush's deadline to reinstate policy restrictions on international family planning funds. Last year's budget compromise between Congress and the White House lifted the global gag rule from FY2001 international family planning funding, but prohibited spending until Feb. 15 when a new president could issue an executive order to restore any restrictions. Mann noted that the gag rule limits the free speech of "non-governmental organizations that provide health care to women in developing countries -- the very organizations best equipped to do public education and advocacy about women's health issues" and "has bitterly divided Congress." She wrote that if Bush "is serious about trying to unite Congress across partisan lines, if he's serious about compassionate conservatism and trying to bring people together, there is no stronger signal he can deliver than to not reinstate the gag rule."

A Dec. 28 editorial in the Detroit Free Press stated that "the so-called global gag rule that the United States has imposed on family-planning agencies abroad will provide an early indication of how far [Bush] is willing to go to appease the right wing of the GOP at home." The editorial concluded that "a compassionate President Bush would leave the gag rule as it is. Silenced." Link

Letters from Population Action International urging President-elect Bush to support international family planning and reject the global gag rule appeared in the Anchorage Daily News Dec. 23, Buffalo News Dec. 30, Atlanta Journal and Constitution Dec. 24, Newsday (NY) Dec. 24, and Miami Herald Dec. 22. Most noted that Bush campaigned on a "consensus-building approach to government," and that he "should fulfill his commitment to moderate, common-sense solutions" by rejecting pressure to reimpose the gag rule.

The Dec. 26 New York Times printed an op-ed by Planned Parenthood of America's Gloria Feldt that urged President-elect Bush to "Keep Choice in Mind." Feldt wrote that she embraces "Bush's promises to unite and heal the nation," but is "frightened by the assertions of Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer and others who seem to feel that the president-elect owes more to their partisan interests than he does to the American people." She noted that "if Mr. Bush truly wants to united the nation, he will take into account that the majority of Americans support reproductive rights."


The above analysis was written by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk at the Communications Consortium Media Center, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, 202/326-8700.

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