Letter: Population control

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I am surprised and encouraged to find myself agreeing with much of what a Catholic priest says about contraception and the Third World, even if , partly, for different reasons.

The Rev Bernard O'Connor (letter, 7 July) is right to draw attention to the grossly disproportionate use of resources by the developed world. Our conclusion is that population growth in the developed world is a serious problem too, for, in terms of global resource consumption, an increase in population of one million is equivalent to an increase of several tens of millions in the poorest countries of the world.

The USA is the most alarming case, for it has by far the highest consumption per capita, and one of the highest population growth rates of the developed world. Nor should we in the UK be complacent. The latest official figures show that our population is growing at a rate of one million every six years. Even without immigration, our birth rate is adding an extra one million people every 11 years (Annual Abstract of Statistics, section 2.2.Population changes, 1996-2001).

As for the Third World, every liberal-minded proponent of birth control will emphatically endorse Bernard O'Connor in saying that provision of education and health care for women (but not only women) is the first requirement. Attempts to introduce family planning without these are not only patronising and imperialistic, but simply won't work. On the other hand, all the evidence is that, given access to health care, including a family planning service, women will take it up gladly, and who should deny them that?

CHRIS PADLEY

Green Party Population Policy Group

Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

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