April 13, 2024

Stop at two to save the planet, say British doctors

But they’re opposed to coercion
Family doctors in
Britain should rebuke women who want to have more than two children, according
to a
guest editorial in the British Medical Journal
. The authors, John
Guillebaud, professor of family planning at University College, London and Pip
Hayes, a GP, are trustees of the Optimum Population Trust, a lobby group which
would like to reduce the world’s population from 6.8 billion to about 2.7
billion. They claim that a British baby generates 160 more greenhouse gas
emissions than an Ethiopian baby. Contraception, they argue, is an essential
component in environmental ethics. All pregnancies should be planned, and
couples should be exhorted to stop at two to save the planet.

The controversial
editorial generated quite a number of letters in response. Although Guillebaud  and Hayes had many supporters, other doctors
derided their arguments as primitive Malthusianism which is “comfortably immune
from rational argument”. One doctor commented that “When the profession sees
its task to prevent the generation of new human life in the name of
‘environmental issues’ and ‘global warming’ it is acting beyond its remit which
is to treat the sick. We are not social planners or instruments of fashionable
political thought”.

The authors insist
that they are opposed to coercive population control. "We are not
criticising those people in Britain who had large families in the past, because
a lot of people had no inkling about the sustainability implications,"
Guillebaud told the Guardian
soothingly. "The decision that needs to be made is one that balances
rights. It’s people’s right to have the size of family they choose, but surely
that should be balanced against the rights of future generations." ~
British Medical Journal, July 24