The new book by journalist Mara Hvistendahl on sex selected abortion (Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men) shows how American diplomats and politicians were active in promoting abortion, often through UN channels, as a means of population control in the developing world.
A body of historical evidence connects the advocates of abortion and population control with US development aid policy, organizations such as Planned Parenthood, and the United Nations secretariat.
General William Draper Jr., a World War II general turned US diplomat, was a “staunch proponent of abortion,” Hvistendahl writes in her controversial new book “Unnatural Selection.” General Draper directed the government’s interest in population control to coincide with issues of security and international development in the post World War II world by connecting high fertility rates with poverty, and poverty with the possible rise of communism in Asia. Draper promoted abortion as a viable method of birth control, and encouraged it for the sake of decreased fertility, which was expected to have positive economic effects in the targeted nations, thus avoiding conditions favorable to popular revolutions.
General Draper continued to advise numerous presidential administrations in the 1950’s and 1960’s on the threat to US national security posed by explosive populations in the developing world, suggesting abortion and “family planning” as the solution. General Draper was “responsible for the first official recommendations that the U.S. government help other nations, on request, to deal with population issues,” wrote Planned Parenthood when they honored him with the Margaret Sanger Award in 1966.
General Draper also advocated for the creation of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 1969. International observers have criticized UNFPA for promoting “family planning” and access to abortion as a solution to the issue of poverty in countries with large populations and/or high fertility rates.
General Draper’s son, William H. Draper III, became one of the most significant figures at the United Nations during the following decade. Draper III was made head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 1986. Under Draper’s tenure, UNDP expanded its fundraising to new levels and began a “Women in Development” division, a division which now focuses on achieving universal access to contraception, sex rights and HIV, and gender mainstreaming.
Draper III is also a member emeritus of Population Action International (PAI) board of directors. PAI was originally founded as the “The Population Crisis Committee” by General Draper, and continues to play an active role in supporting population-related programs, including activism at the Cairo Conference on Population and Development in 1994.
Research from Hvistendahl and others also revealed that prominent politicians like Henry Kissinger also promoted abortion abroad as a tool to reduce fertility around the world. Kissinger claimed in a 1974 government memo that abortion is vital to the solution of world population growth. “No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion,” stated the memo, which was signed by Kissinger.
US presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush, similarly supported the promotion of population control in poorer countries, for the sake of American security and international stability.