On Earth Day this year, Having Kids wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking it to consider supporting new family planning policies that would address overcrowding and other factors that impact the spread and impact of Covid-19 and that threaten to help create new pandemics.
On May 27, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC kindly responded, noting that 1) United States birth rates are at an all-time low, and 2) the CDC is doing much to protect families and children from Covid-19.
We appreciate the response and applaud these efforts, but we have responded with the following ask:
Given that the CDC in its letter recognizes the connection between low birth rates, overcrowding, and pandemics, would it support our call for new legislation promoting smaller families? Forthcoming legislation on Covid-19 could be linked to forthcoming legislation on childcare and subsidized “baby bonds” in a way that starts to change the underlying model that drives family planning outcomes and transitions the country to smaller families who can invest more in each child.
We are also asking the CDC (and World Health Organization) to include in the policy change the other three inevitable factors present in all family planning regimes: 1) the impact on prenatal, birth, and early development conditions on qualitative outcomes like health, education, and the development of empathy, 2) the impact of equity and prospects for equality of opportunities in life, and 3) the impact on the environment and prospects for the restoration of nature as a buffer against future pandemics. The CDC and WHO can support policy transitions to better family planning and can codify the human rights-based child-centered model in a variety of ways.
The facts are clear:
- Population growth and the large families that cause it have worsened the impact of Covid-19.
- The impact of Covid-19 depends on the civic qualities of the populace, including empathy and the willingness to engage in measures that protect others. These qualities, and related factors like the effective dissemination and internalization of simple public health information, depend in part on family planning regimes.
- Equity and the massive disparity in health outcomes during Covid-19 largely depend on family planning and birth conditions.
- The underlying driver of future pandemics is the degradation of nature. We need policies that restore it.
In other words, the historic spike in population growth over the past century has been a public health problem.