There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
She had so many children she didn't know what to do
She gave them some broth without any bread
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. (Ps. 127:4-5)
If old nursery rhymes serve as any indication, people have been concerned about overpopulation for centuries. More recently, in 1968, Paul Ehrlich wrote a best-selling book called The Population Bomb. He predicted mass starvation and other calamities as a result of overpopulation, although his conclusions were largely discredited later and his most dire predictions have not come to pass. More recently still, the United Nations revised their population projections for the next century. According to the U.N.'s numbers, the earth's population may reach 10.1 billion people by the year 2100. Justin Gillis and Celia Dugger report in The New York Times, "Growth in Africa remains so high that the population there could more than triple in this century, rising from today's one billion to 3.6 billion … a sobering forecast for a continent already struggling to provide food and water for its people."
Not only does the prospect of billions more people threaten the future health and well-being of many, but women and children face hardship in the present when it comes to childbirth and family size. In Afghanistan, for instance, a woman is 200 times more likely to die in childbirth than to be killed by a bomb or a bullet. Education for midwives, of course, can help alleviate those dangers without decreasing the number of children born. And yet many women in developing countries put their children up for adoption ...1