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CEO Stresses Importance of Family Planning, Education

Winston Freeman ’20, Contributing Writer

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According to John Seager, the question of how many people the earth can support is not a definite number – it depends on how you want to live.

In an event titled “Soaring Past 7 Billion: Population Challenges for a Crowded World,” Seager lectured on the dwindling resource availability for the booming world population.

Seager is the president and CEO of Population Connection, a “national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by Earth’s resources,” according to its website, populationconnection.org. According to the website, Seager is also a veteran of over 50 political campaigns, and has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and served as Chief of Staff for US Representative Peter H. Kostmayer (D-PA).

Seager frequently stressed the importance of family planning, and he voiced his opposition to President Trump’s restoration of the Mexico City Policy, which according to Slate Magazine is also known as the “Global Gag rule.” The former policy, according to the Human Rights Watch [HRW] banned the use of US foreign aid for abortion-related activities since 1973. The policy applied to organizations that “provide abortion services, counsel patients about the option of abortion or refer them for abortion or advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws.” Unlike the previous policy, which applied specifically to U.S. family planning funds, the new policy extends the restriction to all U.S. global health assistance firms. According to HRW, this policy is expected to cut $9.5 billion of U.S. aid for health programs, including family planning, HIV, TB, malaria, maternal and child health.

Seager explained the effects of this policy on Nepal specifically, and the impact on the country after President Obama rescinded the Mexico City Policy in 2009. Since then, Nepal’s maternal mortality rate has fallen by a third, said Seager.

Population Connection started the #Fight4HER campaign, the goal of which is to rescind the Mexico City Policy, as well as ban it from being implemented in the future.

Seager then discussed abortion rates and their tendency to be higher in countries with anti-abortion laws. Providing access to abortion and contraception, Seager claimed, is important because it helps prevent unwanted pregnancies that exacerbate the population crisis. He continued, arguing that giving women options and the knowledge to make use of those options usually lowers birth rates to manageable levels.

During the 50s, 60s, and 70s more women started going to college. This raised another point of Seager’s: women who attend college tend to have fewer children and at a later age. Having children at a later age, explained Seager, lowers the likeliness that women will have large families.

“We know how the problem arises and it is within our reach [to solve it]” concluded Seager.

The event was held on Friday, April 2 at 5 p.m. in the Stafford Auditorium. About 70 students attended.

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CEO Stresses Importance of Family Planning, Education