In an earlier blog I reported about the Boston College ethicists who argued that single women should not be permitted to undergo in-vitro fertilization (IVF) because we have too many people. (ref: http://www.robertfleischmann.com/archives/145).
Now, consider the story of the effectiveness of giving away free birth control to teenagers in reducing pregnancy on the one hand (regardless of the potential abortifacient nature of a form of birth control) [see story here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28693239] and the outlawing of permanent birth control in Iran to boost population [see story here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/iran-ban-permanent-contraception-population-growth].
In discussions like this there is a lot of talk about “fertility rates.” The fertility rate is the measurement of the number of children to be born to each woman in the country. In the United States and most developed countries the optimum fertility rate is around 2.1. That means for every woman there should be a little over two children born. Those two children replace the parents when they die. The “.1” covers those who do not have children and the children that have died. You will see that since legalized abortion the United States has not maintained a replacement fertility rate (see: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2012/world-population-data-sheet/fact-sheet-us-population.aspx). Population growth in the United States primarily comes from immigration, which is partially why that topic is such a political hot potato.