Family Planning and Population Growth

The research in the opinion piece "Curbing Population" (Oct. 21) is incomplete and misleading. First, birth rates can drop without an emphasis on aid-funded family-planning efforts. In his book "The Population Explosion," Paul Ehrlich, the godfather of the population-control movement said, "The critical prerequisites to reduced fertility are five: adequate nutrition, proper sanitation, basic health care, education of women, and equal rights for women."

Second, human consumption patterns, not population growth, are responsible for most of the destructive environmental impact. Even if we could halt population growth, we would still trash the planet in the next decade if our destructive consumption patterns are not changed.

Third, failure to deal with human health problems like HIV and AIDS has nothing to do with population growth rates in even the poorest of nations. If such a connection existed, health conditions in Russia would be improving given its current negative population growth. The spread of disease is the result of failed public policy, ignorance, malnutrition, and the misappropriation of resources to military purchases, debt payment, and paying off corrupt government officials.

There's really only one reason to support universal access to voluntary family planning. It's a vital component of comprehensive basic health-care service. Viewed as a tool to curb population, family planning becomes a hammer that does far more damage than good.

Chuck Woolery

Rockville, Md.

Immunity for Clinton

White House counsel Lanny Davis's immunity trial balloon in "Clinton Supporters Float 'Immunity' Deal" (Oct. 22) has one fatal flaw: Granting President Clinton immunity from criminal prosecution does not mean that Mr. Clinton could not still be impeached and tried in the Senate for possible removal from office. At best, immunity for testimony would only protect him from an indictment after he left office.

The attempt to liken a Clinton immunity grant to Oliver North's immunity deal in 1987 is a false comparison since Mr. North, a military officer, would never have been subject to the congressional impeachment process. Judicial remedies such as court martial and regular criminal prosecution already exist for military personnel.

One of the reasons the impeachment process exists is the fact that presidents cannot be indicted and convicted of crimes while they are in office (how could a president serve as commander in chief from a prison cell?).

If Clinton wants to "fast-track" the process and be immune from possible criminal prosecution for perjury and other crimes, his best bet is to resign and ask Vice President Gore to pardon him.

William F. Tell

Silver Spring, Md.

Open-door adoptions

I am shocked at the simplicity of the article "Adoption With an Open Door for Birth Parents" (Oct. 21). The term "open adoption" and the phrase "adoption with an open door for birth parents" are not synonymous, as the article would lead the reader to believe. The arrangement described in the article is one type of open adoption. There are many gradations. There are many forces driving the open-adoption movement, not just the one situation posed by the family in this article.

And there is not "a nationwide shortage of healthy adoptable babies," but there may be a nationwide shortage of healthy Caucasian, adoptable babies. Hopefully, this article can be followed up with a more substantive look at the world of adoption.

Marie E. Hegarty


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