The Harvard medical professor who was co-developer of the first birth control pill carried his urgent plea to halt the population explosion to a Ford Hall Forum audience in Boston's Jordan Hall last night.
Calling himself "a Catholic gynecologist with a scientific knowledge of sex," John Rock '15, clinical professor of Gynecology, emeritus, uttered a strong appeal for the United States to "set an example for the rest of the world" by holding down the birth rate as much as possible, especially in urban areas.
By the year 2000, Rock said, there will be at least six billion people on the earth--about twice the present figure--unless immediate steps are taken. Pointing to underdeveloped nations as the most crucial at this time, Rock declared that "it is impossible that we will be able to feed twice as many people in 36 years, when we can't take care of everyone now."
He appealed for and predicted the coming of a new interpretation by the Roman Catholic Church of Biblical passages and canon law that have been presented as arguments against contraception. He quoted a Catholic theologian who said recently that "people make two mistakes about the Catholic Church: they think that it never changes and that it never makes mistakes."
"Forethought, directed by science utilizing reason, will enable man to achieve reproduction, instead of more procreations," and this is in conformity with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and other religious philosophers, Rock said. He described the responsible family as that which has only as many children as it can "bring up and educate decently."
Human beings, Rock charged, are "as sexually promiscuous and as hard to satiate as the ape. But sex in the human being consists of that indefinable attribute called love." The natural law of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, he said, demands that this love and the humanitarianism into which it is channeled be translated into responsible parenthood in a society based on monogamy.
Handling the questions of a potentially explosive audience with considerable aplomb, Rock translated the tense atmosphere into one of delight with his quips about his personal campaign for universal acceptance of contraceptive procedures. He did not predict when birth control will achieve success, but insisted that he "was born and will always remain an optimist."