Norplant as social engineering device?

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue 09 Sep 2003 - 03:50:16 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Norplant as social engineering device?"

    I'm finishing up the first read of Patricia Turner's book _I Heard it Through the Grapevine: Rumor in African-American Culture_ (1993. University of California Press. Berkeley) and in her Epilogue she touches upon a topic relevant to recent discussion wrt birth control as social policy for population control measures. After submitting a draft of her book Turner noticed the emergence (ca 1990) of rumors that usage of the birth control device Norplant was forced upon black women as a condition for receiving welfare benefits. Though a rumor she comments on there being a kernel of truth to it citing some suggestions in popular media that welfare mothers be encouraged via incentives (eg- $500 in money) to use Norplant.

    Turner says (page 222): (bq) "In all probability, the rumors that began to circulate about these devices [Norplant] were heavily influenced by media attention. Since policymakers *have* suggested that welfare mothers be urged to have the devices implanted, some might argue that this constitutes "real news" as opposed to "mere rumor"." (eq)

    Focusing more on the kernel of truth here that these suggestions have been entertained, though Turner points out the outcry citing critics including arch-conservative Cal Thomas casting this as a new form of eugenics, I urge caution about putting forward birth control measures (even voluntary ones) as a strategy for population control. Even a benign sounding idea to curtail population growth, a situation which putatively leads to people feeling the tears of privation and incubating xenophobic "memes", could have negative implications, even if unintended.

    Having choices available to individuals needing them is a noble cause, but when this becomes an exercise in social engineering, for instance if someone were to think that by encouraging certain people not to have children because their socioeconomic situation might breed a sense of privation leading to deleterious "memes", that's when we should be a little more cautious IMO.

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