On the right, when you ask about the negative impacts of climate change legislation you’re often met with a response about population control. Environmentalists want to limit the number of new children born, they say, and that leads to abortion and ugly tales of forced sterilization.
The central player in this scheme is the United Nations, which conservatives don’t like on a good day and certainly don’t care for when it comes to this topic. Newt Gingrich, the man who’s become the current Republican presidential frontrunner as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, has added his voice to those warning of the dangers of UN-backed population control. Except for that time in the late 1980s when he supported spending taxpayer dollars to support the UN’s family planning efforts.
In 1989, Gingrich was one of the sponsors behind a bill that would have made controlling the growth of the world population a goal of the U.S. government and given the UN a chance to do something about it. It’s just another in a long line of past positions that make Gingrich’s current role as the conservative alternative more than a little surprising.
The bill in question was the 1989 Global Warming Prevention Act, which Gingrich — along with 144 of his colleagues — cosponsored back in the 101st Congress. The bill never made it out of committee, but in the form Gingrich backed it he was likely very much on the wrong side of the pro-life community.
Here’s Title XI from the bill:
World Population Growth -Declares it is the policy of the United States that family planning services should be made available to all persons requesting them. Authorizes appropriations for FY 1991 through 1995 for international population and family planning assistance. Prohibits the use of such funds for: (1) involuntary sterilization or abortion; or (2) the coercion of any person to accept family planning services.
Requests the President to initiate an international conference on population, and to seek an international agreement on population growth. Establishes a National Commission on Population, Environment, and Natural Resources to prepare reports and convene conferences. Terminates such Commission three years after the enactment of this Act.
Mandates that multilateral development banks adopt guidelines promoting lending strategies which emphasize the maintenance of sustainable world population levels. Authorizes appropriations for FY 1991 through 1993.
Earmarking money for population growth control was a big deal back in the early ’90s. A lot of people were concerned about stories out of China. In April, 1990 the Washington Post editorial page bemoaned how Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush were “knee-jerking to the pressure of anti-abortionists” and canceling funding for a U.N. body focused on curbing the growing population. Later, President George W. Bush also refused to give money to the agency over concerns about China employing forced abortions to keep its population down.
The current Gingrich is onboard the anti-population control train, pushing conspiracy theories about UN plans to increase access to family planning and shooting down the very idea of population growth as a problem in an Amazon book review.
Gingrich’s backpedaling from his concerns about global warming (and then returning to those concerns only to back away from them again) has been well-documented. But this other aspect of the 1989 law, the population control material, is a fresh example of Gingrich’s past coming back to bite him with conservatives.
The Gingrich campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.