- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Population czar

President Obama’s top science adviser has toyed with extreme measures of population control, even suggesting in one book how to make it more publicly acceptable for the government to spike drinking water in order to sterilize people.

John P. Holdren, named as Mr. Obama’s science “czar” earlier this year, described this in a book he wrote with Paul Ehrlich — author of the “Population Bomb,” which predicted masses would starve due to exploitation of resources through the 1980s — about the world’s rapidly increasing population. In the 1977 tome “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment,” Mr. Holdren and Mr. Ehrlich, in addition to Mr. Ehrlich’s wife, Anne, considered various ways to keep growth in check.

Several selections from the book have been highlighted at blogs critical of Mr. Holdren, particularly passages that appear to advocate sterilization, forced abortions and consideration of an “armed international organization, a global analogue of a police force” for population enforcement capabilities.

Although controversial, Mr. Holdren and the Ehrlichs argued such policies “could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society,” in a section titled “Population Law.”

At one point, the scientists discussed the benefits of a future sterilization mechanism that “could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission for a limited number of births.”

Later, the writers considered putting sterlization additives into drinking water and foods, acknowledging the notion “seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control,” but speculating that the public would be more open to it if developers could guarantee it was “free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock.”

Other ideas bandied about to lower the population included giving incentives to encourage late marriage and childlessness, such as a bonus for women who put off marriage until they are older than 25 and lotteries for childless adults, because, according to the authors, “Social pressures on both men and women to marry and have children must be removed.”

When asked whether Mr. Holdren’s thoughts on population control have changed over the years, his staff gave The Washington Times a statement that said, “This material is from a three-decade-old, three-author college textbook. Dr. Holdren addressed this issue during his confirmation when he said he does not believe that determining optimal population is a proper role of government. Dr. Holdren is not and never has been an advocate for policies of forced sterilization.”

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, did ask Mr. Holdren during his confirmation whether he thought “determining optimal population is a proper role of the government.” Mr. Holdren said he did not.

The White House also passed along a statement from the Ehrlichs that said, in part, “anybody who actually wants to know what we and/or Professor Holdren believe and recommend about these matters would presumably read some of the dozens of publications that we and he separately have produced in more recent times, rather than going back a third of a century to find some formulations in an encyclopedic textbook where description can be misrepresented as endorsement.”

Obama and abortion

Pro-life Republicans think President Obama’s health care plan is certain to cover abortion unless Congress specifically bars it from being included in the legislation now being drafted for the government-sponsored program.

Other government health programs have covered abortion until Congress instructed them otherwise. Critics cite previous bouts with Medicaid and Indian Health Services as the top examples of this.

Medicaid covered abortion from 1973 to 1976 until Congress, led by Republican former Rep. Henry J. Hyde of Illinois, changed Medicaid rules to prohibit it from doing so. Congress needed to make similar legislative changes after the fact to stop Indian Health Services from providing abortion as well.

“In both of these cases, explicit exclusions had to be added to ensure that taxpayers would not have to continue to pay for abortions,” said Republican Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, at a Tuesday press conference organized to draw attention to the potential prob- lem with Mr. Obama’s plan.

“The issue here is clear: If abortion is not explicitly excluded, it is implicitly included,” he said.

Two bills are currently being moved, one through the Senate and another through the House as a part of the White House’s fast-track strategy for the bill. National Right to Life Director Douglas Johnson said, “The pro-life movement needs to go to Threat-Level-Red status on this,” pointing out that the Senate’s health care committee last week rejected amendments that would strip abortion accommodations from the bill.

But the pro-lifers do have some Democrats on their side. Nineteen House Democrats wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in late June to say, “We cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.”

Among the Democrats signing were Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Bart Stupak of Michigan, and John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania.

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.