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Pelosi and Population Control: Is Having Children Selfish?

  • Barbara Curtis Contributor
  • Updated Mar 03, 2009
Pelosi and Population Control: Is Having Children Selfish?

Population control – and our country’s continuing war on children – got a big boost early this year when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended “stimulus” funding with this toxic logic:

"contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government."

Shades of Jonathan Swift! Remember A Modest Proposal - For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public?  But while Swift’s 1729 proposal was satire, Pelosi’s was serious stuff.

Hard to believe that this self-described “ardent Catholic” – mother of 5, grandmother of 6, now third in line to the presidency – could make such short shrift of the citizenry’s children, imperiously dismissing them as burdens to the state. 

But is it really all that shocking to define this population cohort in such mercenary terms?  After all, for 36 years our culture’s worldview has been predicated on the idea of children as a burden to individual women and their families. 

As a Second Wave Feminist who agitated for abortion and lived to regret it, I know all too well what makes Nancy tick: decades of denial – adding up to 45 million missing U.S. citizens – make for hardened hearts and the death of reason. Thus a professional politician might spend Saturday night dandling grandkids on her knee, yet report for duty backing government-funded abortions on a Sunday morning talk show. 

The message: Pelosi’s babies – and her babies’ babies – matter.  The rest are just statistics.

It all goes back to the Slippery Slope – the one that those stuffy religious “nuts” warned us of in the years leading up to Roe v. Wade. Though then I scorned their ethical warnings, eventually I had to admit they were right – especially when the Slippery Slope turned out to be a moral freefall resulting in 1.5 million abortions per year.  The “Have it your way!” mentality, sparked when the Anglican church okayed birth control in 1921, led inexorably to abortions triggered not just by dire straits, but by convenience or eugenics.

Our Have it Your Way! culture normalized abortion to the point that one fourth of the under-30 population went missing.

And on the other hand, Have it Your Way! apologetics ushered in the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) era, replete with ethical dilemmas ranging from anonymous donor/fathers to gender selection, from thousands of frozen embryos to a 33-year-old mother of 6 under 7 birthing 8 premature and very needy babies. 

The tweezing out of the strands that together made a strong and dependable family - marriage, sex, and procreation – and the constant cultural drumbeat that each could stand alone only made matters worse.  Parents became less self-sacrificing, more narcissistic, more inclined to make decisions about children based on what they thought they could afford materially or emotionally.

And when it comes to those decisions, we tend more and more to underestimate our capacity. After all, children seriously interfere with Having It Our Way. Our consumerist society bombards us with messages of materialism, keeping us striving for – and feeling entitled to – nice homes, cars, vacations, dining out. 

Children now compete as commodities – part of a chosen lifestyle – so that today even some Christians approach childbearing as though they were filling out their wedding registry, based not on “What does God have in mind for building our family?” but “How many do we want to have?”

While our culture encourages an entitlement mentality elsewhere, when it comes to children, we are not supposed to feel entitled, but apologetic. Having more than two provokes a challenge: we are living outside our means, over-consuming, endangering the planet.  Thus the greatest irony of all: those who choose the generous path of parenting a large family – thus having a real stake in the future of our nation – are accused of being selfish. And a candidate who says he wouldn’t want his hypothetically-out-of-wedlock daughter “punished with a baby” takes less flak than those who even in the toughest times would not curse a new life as a penalty.

With such pervasive prejudice, is it any wonder that a Beltway Insider/confused grandmother would defend her political party’s agenda by blurting out the sad truth of how far our country has strayed from God’s purposes and intentions: the complete devaluation of children in our country?

But consider: Do we really want to join the train of European nations whose “sophisticated” choices have resulted in birth rates well below replacement level, leaving the steadily-aging citizenry staggering under the problems of declining populations?  Sample headlines:

Graying of Europe brings ailments for government, business

The Severe Impact of Europe’s Declining Birth Rate  

A Germany Without Children 

Population Paradox: Europe’s Time Bomb  

For a population to maintain the same level, the replacement birthrate is defined as 2.1.  At 1.34, Japan has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, but it is taking action to change course.  Ironically, the same week Madame Speaker was urging preventing babies to boost the US economy, Japan was sending its workers home early hoping that the nine-month-later dividends might boost their own. 

Japan has obviously figured out what Madame Speaker and those of her political persuasion have not: that children are not just burdens, not just consumers, not just a cost factor. We grow up to be producers, creators, capitol-builders. It’s just a matter of logic, the non-toxic variety.

We may not be where Japan is, but we are already well on our way.  Recent census data reveals that not only is the US fertility rate and pregnancy rate dropping, but that 20 percent of American women between 40-44 are childless - twice the rate 30 years ago. 

We’ve come a long way, babies! A long way from the days when America fell in love with an irresistible little girl of whom Paul Harvey said, “Nobody could have persuaded a generation to produce a baby boom--yet Shirley Temple movies made every couple want to have one.” 

With those Baby Boomers now headed into their 60s after their Have It Your Way! heyday – and after choosing to dispose of one fourth of the next generations – they are now demanding to live longer and better with greater support, leaving the question of who will pay for it all.

If there ever was a moment to understand that children are our greatest resource, perhaps now is the time. When all is said and done, the children we raise matter more than the houses we’ve lived in, the cars we’ve driven and the money we’ve saved.

But God already told us this:

In vain you rise early
       and stay up late,
       toiling for food to eat—
       for he grants sleep to those he loves.

 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
       children a reward from him.

 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
       are sons born in one's youth.

 Blessed is the man
       whose quiver is full of them.
       They will not be put to shame
       when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

~ Psalm 127:2-5

Perhaps someday Nancy Pelosi will notice the inner contradictions of her life as a Catholic mother and a powerful politician. And maybe the still, small voice which we can only hope still whispers to her will remind her that we common folk derive the same deep satisfaction from parenting that caused her to tell USA Today in 2007:

"Nothing in my life will ever, ever compare to being a mom.”


Barbara Curtis has 12 children - including three adopted sons with Down syndrome - and 12 grandchildren so far. She is  also an award-winning author with nine books and 800+ articles in print publications including Focus on the Family, Guideposts, Christian Parenting Today, and The Washington Times.

Barbara is a popular speaker at MOPS and women's events, as well as writers' conferences.  Online you can find her at MommyLife and Mommy, Teach Me!.