Population control programs view people capable of pregnancy as ‘breeders’ of too many babies without considering the complex circumstances of their lives and their reasons for having children. Everyone should have access to high quality, voluntary reproductive health services, including safe birth control and abortion. In contrast, population control programs try to drive down birth rates as fast and cheaply as possible through the aggressive promotion of sterilization or long-acting, provider-controlled contraceptives like Norplant and Depo-Provera. In addition to their side effects, these contraceptives pose greater health risks for marginalized people in areas where screening and follow-up care are inadequate or nonexistent. Unlike condoms, they do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.
The 1994 UN population conference in Cairo came out against the use of coercion in population programs, but unfortunately it persists. Today, in India, a number of states punish poor parents who have more than two children by denying them access to government assistance, employment and election to public office. In China, the one-child policy is still enforced through forced sterilizations and abortions. In both countries, the strong preference for bearing at least one CAMAB son, coupled with restrictive population control policies, has led to sex-selective abortions of CAFAB fetuses and skewed sex ratios.