Two headlines: "Contraceptive Shortages Loom in Less Developed Countries"; "Low Fertility Not Politically Sustainable." Both come from the August/September issue of Population Today, that indispensable publication from the Population Reference Bureau. The first article, a front-page piece by Population Today editor Allison Tarmann, deplores the lack of "contraceptive security" in the developing world. "Analogous to food security," Tarmann writes, "contraceptive security denotes an adequate supply of choice of contraceptives and condoms for every person who needs them, whether for family planning or for disease prevention."

About the choices that make "contraceptive insecurity" such a threat, Tarmann is silent. The people she describes are active agents only in seeking to limit births and prevent infection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Meanwhile, on page 3, demographer Peter McDonald notes that while "the population field" has been dominated by "concerns" over high birth rates, "for many … countries the problem is now very low rates of birth." The goal of population-control advocates has been the "replacement level of two births per woman," but in fact "the birth rate has continued to fall in nearly all populations that have reached the replacement level."

How widespread is the problem? McDonald cites a PRB study showing that "65 countries and territories now have fertility rates that are below the replacement level, including 40 of the 42 countries and territories in Europe." McDonald's article bristles with the demographer's jargon, but the reality he's describing is utterly bizarre: whole societies, affluent beyond the dreams of most people in most of human history, failing to have enough children to replace their generation! ...

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