Schmitz on Family Planning, 1970

A speech by Representative John G. Schmitz (R-CA), November 16, 1970.

Representative Schmitz

Representative Schmitz

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Family Planning Act, H.R. 19318. There was a time when Americans made a joke about how all politicians could be counted on to be in favor of motherhood, because it was assumed that motherhood was one value and blessing which no one in his right mind could dispute.

                Tragically for our country, those days are past. The familiar joke is not heard very much today. For motherhood is now under systematic, vehement and almost incessant attack. And I am waiting to see how many of my colleagues in this House, which represents the American people, will stand up with me today for motherhood and for human life, and against the “family planners” for whom motherhood is the enemy. The fact that no other member of the committee on which I serve, the committee which brings this bill before you, has been willing to do so shows just how far we have come from the days when the creation of new human life in the mother’s womb was held in universal honor.

We could make being for motherhood a joke when everyone was for it. But ceasing to be for motherhood is a different matter entirely. For motherhood is the channel for the transmission of human life. Without it, there is no future.

What the population planners never seem to remember is that population trends change, ebbing and flowing like the tide at different periods in history. You simply cannot take figures for a given brief period in the present and project them unchanged into the future with any significant probability of accuracy. In just the single decade of the 1960s, according to the preliminary returns from the 1970 census, we overestimated our population by no less than 5½ million people. Instead of the 205,700,000 Americans who had been projected – and ticked off on the famous population clock in the Department of Commerce – there were only 200,200,000.

If we can go 5½ million wrong in just 10 years – nearly 3 percent of our total population – what are we to think of projections now so blithely made for 30, 50, or 100 years into the future? Their appearance of precise statistical accuracy is pure sham.

What we now see is a more steady reduction of the birth rate in America, going back to 1957. According to the report of the White House National Goals Research Staff, July 4, 1970, Figure 2-1, it has fallen from 3.8 births per mother in 1957 to less than 2.5 today. If this trend continues and is artificially accelerated by massive government programs such as the bill before us would establish, we may well see not only an end to the baby boom of the early 1950s, but an actual population decline resulting from a growing and officially sponsored hostility to conception.

Such declines have occurred, seriously weakening or destroying the nations involved, without the benefit of modern contraceptive techniques and without official promotion, in many significant instances in history, ranging from the last years of the western Roman Empire to 19th century France. It is noteworthy that Communist China, which has the largest population of any nation on earth and whose government certainly has the power to impose population control, has rejected this as a policy. The contraceptive mentality can mean national suicide.

The Bill before us today, brought up under suspension of the rules on the very first day after a month-long recess, would commit the U.S. government to the life prevention business at an initial cost of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. We all know from long experience with Federal programs how much this figure is certain to rise once the program is underway – with no end in sight.

The bill contains no restriction whatever on the age or the marital status of the persons who may receive contraceptives paid for by the funds it appropriates. Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher, president of Planned Parenthood-World Population, admitted in testimony before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee that his organization – which would in all likelihood receive substantial funding from the appropriations provided by this bill – now gives contraceptives to young teenage children in family life classes in several large cities. Thus it is simple truth to say – unpalatable as a blunt statement of the truth may be – that in practice it will amount to officially condoning not only fornication, but statutory rape.

We are told that the bill is intended to prevent the birth of unwanted children. What makes a child unwanted? A paper by Arthur A. Campbell, Chief of the Natality Statistics Branch, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Public Health Service, included in the transcript of the committee hearings on this bill, may serve to put this talk of unwanted children in true perspective, and to give an idea of the price some Americans now put on human life:

                The prevention of 451,000 births would allow 135,000 women to work for four years. If they earned an average of only $2,000 annually (assuming that some work part-time and some work full-time), their earnings would total $8,000 each, or $7,260 when discounted to the first year at a rate of four percent. Since only 30 percent of the women are assumed to work, the additional earnings would average $2,178 per unwanted birth avoided. In this case the economic benefit is 7.8 times greater than the cost of $300 per unwanted birth avoided.

This is one of the most chilling statements I have ever read. There was a time when Americans viewed human life as priceless. Now it seems the price is down to $2,178. At this rate, how long will it be before we drop to rock bottom – the value of a few cents, or maybe a few dollars now with inflation, that has been set for the chemical constituents of a human body?

By contrast to this appalling product of the statistician’s art, I would like to share with you a most significant comment of my distinguished colleague from Kentucky, Dr. Tim Lee Carter, who – though he supported this bill in committee – had this to say in response to the witness who tried to tell the committee how mothers often hated their newly born children:

                I was interested in paragraph 1 on page 6 of your testimony in which you say that – you talk about the lady, I believe, on page 5, who cursed her children or her unborn child. You know, I think that is the unusual thing. Some way or other almost every mother who gives birth to a child loves that child the moment it is born with an undying, unremitting love. It has been my fortune to deliver thousands of youngsters, and I think that statement is perhaps just a little bit on the unusual side. It may occur, but in the 27 years I was in practice, I do not believe I ever heard a mother curse an unborn child. And I hope I never do.

We are told that this bill is needed to reduce the number of illegitimate births and the medical and psychological complications for both mother and child often resulting from them. But in England, which in the past decade has launched a massive program to make contraception available to everyone, illegitimacy has substantially increased. In the 13 to 15 year age group, it has tripled.

Supposedly this bill would not now permit abortion, which its earlier version would have permitted, because of a clause inserted in the new bill drawn up after the committee hearings – a clause which was not in the bill passed by the Senate, and may not survive the conference committee. But this clause, section 1008, does not specifically define the term abortion. Consequently, its prohibition of abortion might well be interpreted not to apply to those contraceptive methods which destroy the fetus very soon after conception – methods which Dr. Sheldon J. Segal of the Biomedical Division of the Population Council in New York, testifying before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee on this bill, frankly admitted were early abortifacients. The development of abortion-inducing chemicals such as prostaglandins, also described in material presented to the committee, is further obscuring the distinction between abortion and contraception. Furthermore there is no prohibition of any kind on federally assisted sterilization as a method of family planning.

Again and again we are told that this bill is strictly voluntary, that no woman will be forced to accept contraceptives or have her babies killed, or their lives prevented, against her will.

Now I ask all of you, in the name of reason and common sense, how many more times are we going to be fooled by this perennial argument? How many more times are we going to pass bills, assuring ourselves, and everyone else who is concerned, that they are really harmless because strictly voluntary, only to come back a few years later and make them compulsory when the people have become more accustomed to the idea? Surely you all remember Federal aid to education, approved by the House just 5 years ago, with no strings attached and strictly without Federal control – or so we were told. Now we are constantly debating just how we shall go about forcing schools accepting Federal aid – which means virtually all of them now – to comply with our regulations, and how we shall go about forcing children to attend them. There was a time when collective bargaining in this country was voluntary. But then we decided that there was not enough of it, and made it compulsory. The list is endless.

I know that many of you, probably most of you, now approve of the use of Federal aid to impose certain requirements on local schools, and of mandatory collective bargaining. We are not debating those issues here today. I mention them only to show that when proponents of a massive Federal birth control program come before you and insist that they mean it to be always strictly voluntary, history shows that the exact opposite is very likely to be the eventual outcome of legislation like this.

I will ask members of the House this question: In your own careers in Congress how many bills have you seen that you have started out as voluntary measures and have them become mandatory? I served 5½ years in a state legislature, and one of the most common procedures was to change “may” to “shall.” After we put through a voluntary bill, we then moved on to make it mandatory.

I will make a prediction at this point. Mark my words. If this bill passes today, in a few years you will see “may” changed to “shall” when it is found out that the objective stated in this bill cannot be achieved by voluntary means.

Several witnesses at the hearings on this bill made it very clear that they advocate a voluntary birth control program only so long as it works. If it does not work to their satisfaction, they will go to a compulsory program. They leave no place for the alternative of the rejection of the contraceptive mentality by a free, life-loving people.

As Dr. John R. McCain of Atlanta, GA said in testimony on this bill before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee:

                Family planning on a voluntary basis is the most acceptable approach. Unless voluntary methods are successful, actual control of population by compulsory measures may be resorted to at some future time.

And to quote again from Dr. Segal’s testimony:

                There are people, serious demographers, who believe that the population growth rate, the population problems in general in this country, can create problems that can only be solved by strong line methods, by giving up the concept of voluntarism and regulating the number of children people can have, by coercion, by legislative means that will be economically coercive, and so on.

Now, I feel that we must give voluntary family planning a chance to prove whether or not it can bring us to a zero population growth level. We have not given it a chance.

Dr. McCain further explained how funds appropriated under this bill would be used to propagandize for contraception, to change attitudes in its favor, and to put pressure on people to prevent births:

                Psychological and sociological research is required to determine the methods of motivating the population, male and female, to initiate effective family planning and to utilize the methods consistently… We have had in the experience of our program in the Atlanta area what they have spoken of sometimes as the Madison Avenue approach. In other words, by no means that it is terrifying or fearful, but that it is the thing to do. In other words, the popular thing for the patient after she has delivered, if she has not begun on family planning at that time to be sure that she returns. The pressure of her peers by their questions. “You have not started on your pills yet?” Or, “You have not had your IUD put in yet?” The concern of the block area, the community area, that anybody that does not do that is just not quite up on the current way of doing things.

In view of all this explicit testimony, I frankly cannot put much stock in the many pious disclaimers of coercive intent on the part of the proponents of this bill. Rather, I regard it as a long step toward a Nazi-like tyranny in our land. When government gets into bed with you, surely that is the ultimate in government control.

Finally, the most grotesque argument for this bill is that it will somehow help in the fight against pollution, as is indicated in the testimony of organizations such as the Sierra Club in support of it. A moment’s though should make it perfectly clear that a single human being, simply by being alive, produces negligible pollution. It is technology that pollutes, not people. We can, and we must, bring under control those technological excesses and processes which are dangerously befouling our air and water. We should not, and must not, let ourselves be persuaded to try to eliminate pollution by eliminating people.

I ask my colleagues who have the interest of the poor, and of our minority groups especially close to their hearts, to think very carefully about who profits and who suffers by this approach to our pollution problem. The people at whom this bill is specifically aimed are the poor – and less specifically, the minorities. Are they to be made scapegoats and victims of a problem arising from our great industries? As Msg. Alphonse Popek of Milwaukee, WI said in testifying on this bill:

                Pollution, though existent, is the convenient smokescreen for the sinister business of eliminating people. ‘People cause pollution – pollution is bad – therefore eliminate people.’ Which people? All people? It seems that non-quality people are the transgressors. But who is to identify these non-quality people? Does it not seem that the present bill provides for government working through its highest and lowest departments and through funding of individual and private agencies to make the final determination? Little people do cause pollution, yet there are many vested interests in this country which cause even greater and more serious physical pollution, and some of these interests are known and some are yet to be determined. All must be stopped by every technological and scientific effort before human life is to be snuffed out at any point along the spectrum of existence. My concern relates to the removal of truly dangerous pollutants which would not only contaminate the clear streams of morality, and the pure air of religious freedom, but the human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I can find no better words with which to conclude than those eloquently spoken by a Wisconsin housewife, Mrs. Alvin Emmons, who traveled 2,000 miles to come to Washington to testify against the bill in committee. Listen to her. I am convinced that she voices the heartfelt protest of the best and soundest instincts of our people, on this legislation:

                It is neither the function nor the purpose of government to sponsor or promote programs of population control. Government’s proper role is to protect the lives of all its citizens including the unborn and to protect the right of the citizens to transmit life. Passage of this law will only add to the irresponsibility and over-permissiveness which seems to be running rampant in all areas of living today. We urge you to vote against this bill and ask rather that you exert every effort to protect the home and family and the very right to life. The time is NOW to stop the tearing down of the home and family through the passage of any immoral or amoral laws.

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