How population control theory led to abortion

Fifty years ago last week, a government report lived up to the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

On March 27, 1972, a document known to history as the “Rockefeller Commission on Population Growth and the American Futurecalled for zero population growth in America as a way to save the world. While we have no reason to doubt that those behind the document had “good intentions,” history has proven this document to be a lofty mark of state-sponsored hubris. Not only did his proposed solutions make matters worse instead of better, they set a dark precedent for terrible crimes against humanity.

To “stabilize” the American population, the document calls for increased regulation of immigration and, especially given the Roe vs. Wade decision barely 10 months later, the legalization and even the encouragement of abortion. Yet, as dire as the consequences of the Rockefeller Commission report are, they are the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of the value and nature of human beings. He assumed, as many do today, that human beings are a net loss to the global future, that on the whole we take more than we give to the world.

During the mid to late 20th century, many elites became concerned about the growth of the world’s population. Even if he stayed by hundreds of millions for thousands of yearsthe human population, with the rise of new technologies and social structures, first exceeded one billion around 1800. Another billion was added in the early 1900s. human population was approaching 4 billion.

Because the commission assumed that each new person meant another mouth to feed from a limited global food supply, it also assumed that more people posed a problem that needed to be mitigated. The Rockefeller Commission did not so much find a solution to a real problem as it created a solution to an already assumed problem. To the chagrin of his devoted supporters still today, the Commission’s recommendations have not been implemented as widely as many would have liked. What remains of the report, however, is a mentality which validated both the abortion and the overpopulation hypothesis, even after predictions of global catastrophe turned out to be as fictional as a summer blockbuster.

In fact, since the report’s dire predictions, the world’s population has more than doubled, from 3.8 billion people in 1972 to around 7.9 billion today. Yet instead of mass starvation and increased conflict over resources, crop yields have increased dramatically, more than keeping pace with the mouths to feed.

Humans just didn’t turn out to be the virus so many people thought they were. On the contrary, they proved to be creators of new resources and innovative solutions, which makes sense if they were truly created to be co-creators by the One who created all things. Created to maintain the Garden of this world, humans are not just consumers. We are producers, responsible for cultivating what has been transformed into more than it currently is.

It would be nice if we could just look back and laugh at the madness of the ivory tower crowd and their bad ideas. But, as we often say, ideas have consequences; bad ideas have victims. The kind of thinking expressed in the Rockefeller Report has had very real victims – tens of millions, in fact.

Over the past 50 years, more than 60 million Americans have been killed by abortion. In China, where the myth of the population bomb led to the horrible one-child policysome 300 million babies were massacred, many against the wishes of their mothers. Instead of saving the planet, these vain ideas of population control have left the nations of the world with a shortage of birth. Russia, China and Japan in particular are struggling to maintain their numbers even as their older populations gradually leave the labor market.

We are fast approaching another 50th anniversary, which I hope and pray will be empty. Next January is the 50th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the miscarriage of justice that usurped state laws across the country and legally founded the malevolent presence of abortion in America. With the Dobbs with the case being decided in a few weeks by the Supreme Court of the United States, the anniversary of next January could arrive with deer a dead letter.

To prepare for the next phase of combating this evil mindset and practice that afflicts our nationthe Colson Center is hosting an event Thursday night, May 12 in Orlando, Florida. “Preparing for a Post-Roe Future” will take place the day before our annual Wilberforce weekend conference and will feature Tim Tebow, Stephanie Gray Connors of Love Unleashes Life, Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, Erin Hawley of Alliance Defending Freedom, and Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life.

Please join us as we work to bring better ideas to the world around us.

Release date: April 4, 2022

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Breakpoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint comments offer incisive content that people can’t find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio show, BreakPoint offers a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends. Today, you can get it in written form and in a variety of audio formats: on the web, on the radio, or in your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and radio host of Breakpoint, a daily national radio program offering thought-provoking commentary on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.