In a July 24 letter, the implication that “family planning” means “eugenics” is absurd: Family planning is necessary for the health of women and their children in many countries. Before modern medicine, complications from giving birth caused the death of one in nine women. Such deaths still happen in places where the women have no access to modern medicine, such as in the backcountry of Afghanistan.
A mother’s death from birth complications can endanger her other children, leaving them at the mercy of relatives or strangers who may be desperately poor and have children of their own to feed. In addition, not spacing children leaves women physically depleted and makes them and their babies more prone to dangerous complications and disease. One such disease of children, kwashiorkor, is caused by a protein deficiency and typically occurs when a mother has to stop giving her child breast milk because she has a younger child to feed. Some families even have to sell older children to feed younger ones. Thus, lack of family planning pits one child against another.
Rather than being eugenics, family planning is the easiest way to alleviate family poverty and improve health.