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"the cancerous growth of human numbers..."

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 07, 2004

David Mills at Touchstone links an article by a Bay-area woman whose neighbors are in her face because of her three children:

After my [third] baby was born, the hostile looks and mutterings continued. While I was waiting in line for coffee one day with the kids in tow, one woman offered to me that she thought three children constituted a big family. When I told her it really isn't considered a large family in many other parts of the country, including the Midwest town I had recently moved from, she asked me with disdain, "Where was that, a religious community?" Then there was the woman who said to me as she pushed by my stroller, "Three? Don't you think you have enough?" It's not like I was asking her to contribute to their college fund! I was just taking my kids to the bathroom

This reminded me of a Boston Globe Sunday Magazine story of a decade ago (April 26, 1992), which provoked reactions of such intensely anti-child hostility that I copied them out (May 10, 1992):

My heart sank as I read "And Baby Makes ... Five" (April 26). Eileen Ogintz's blithe commentary on baby-boomers and three-kid families shows little understanding of the world and time in which we live. The psychology professor has it exactly backwards when she tells Ogintz, "If you feel you can have an impact on the outside world, at least you can do something positive at home." Having a third baby is guaranteed to have a negative impact on the outside world.

Lucy Johnson, Quincy.

And this from our friends at the Sierra Club:

We are appalled by the cavalier glee with which Eileen Ogintz reports that more and more American couples decided in the 1980s to have a third child. It's no coincidence that this occurred during the reigns of Presidents Reagan and Bush. We often hear of the less-than-sterling environmental records of these two men. But their gravest insult against environmental quality has come in the form of their opposition to every population-stabilization proposal brought before them.

The Sierra Club believes that overpopulation causes or aggravates nearly every major environmental threat. We and a coalition of other national environmental groups assert that the first step toward halting the cancerous growth of human numbers in a humane and dignified way should be to make safe and effective birth-control methods available to anyone who wants them. Half of the people in the world of reproductive age have no access to modern birth control.

It's ironic that Ogintz quotes a consultant who says that the new interest in larger families is a "reaction to the '80s, to the greed." Many of us feel that, on the contrary, a decision to increase family size is a manifestation of runaway greed. The best way to express concern for children is not to bring more and more of them into the world but to help assure that who already exist will have a cleaner, more livable world to inherit.

Debra Trione, Editor, National Sierra Club Population Report, Concord
Henry Barbaro, Greater Boston Sierra Club Population Chair, Medford

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 07, 2004 7:46 PM ET USA

    How sad that because of a twisted viewpoint of the world these people deny themselves the most percious gift in the world, that of the love of a child and the joy that they bring into the world with them. Comeing from a large extended family with over 60 cousins all I can say is that they are missing out and in a few years they will be gone, but the shame is untill then they will be depending on our children's to take care of them in their old age. And who says God doesn't have a sense of humor.

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