ABORTION AND POPULATION

The Mail

To the Editors of The Crimson:

The bill to establish a Massachusetts Population Commission, introduced in the state legislature by Representative Robert E. W. etmore and co-authored by David N. Carter of the Divinity School, is a fine and necessary step in achieving a population policy and program for Massachusetts.

However, Mr. Carter's statement that "We don't care about abortion. Any good demographer will tell you it has little to do with population growth" is a misrepresentation of the facts.

There were 3,559,000 births in the United States in 1971. Estimates of the number of abortions performed that year range from 400,000 to 1,500,000. In this country from one out of ten to one of three pregnancies are terminated by abortion. This is demographically significant.

In Eastern Europe, population experts estimate that 23 per cent of all pregnancies are aborted in Poland, 44 per cent are aborted in Bulgaria, and 60 per cent are aborted in Hungary and the Soviet Union. Latin America, China, and Japan rely very heavily on legal or illegal abortion to avert unwanted births. In all these countries, abortion is demographically significant.

Mr. Carter was probably commenting on the fact that legalization of abortion in this country would probably have little impact on population growth. Based on his study of legal abortions in New York City. Dr. Christopher Tietze of the Population Council estimates that as many as 80 per cent of the women seeking abortions would have them performed illegally is necessary to terminate pregnancies.

Mr. Carter was also reacting to political reality in Massachusetts. "Population" is equated with "abortion" for many legislators. Dealing with population growth and distribution from the points of view of land use planning and education as to the need for a balance between people and economic and natural resources is valid and important. Dealing with abortion from the points of view of health, ethics, the rights of women, and the reality of dangerous illegal abortions is also valid and important. Jeansette Atkinson `61   Zero Population Growth   and Pregnancy Counseling Service