Papal Visit: Green NGO Attacks “Inhumane” Contraception Ban

September 29, 2010 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap


For immediate release


The Optimum Population Trust today urged British Catholics and non-Catholics alike to protest strongly to the Pope about the ban on contraception.

OPT Chairman Roger Martin said: “The Catholic Church does much good in the world, but the effects are nullified by its uniquely inhumane doctrine on, and campaign against, contraception.”

The number of mostly poor women dying of pregnancy-related causes equates to one every minute, four jumbo jets full of pregnant women crashing every day. Some 40% of these pregnancies are unintended; and scores of thousands of these deaths each year result from unsafe abortions by desperate women denied access to family planning; while condoms remain the most effective form of AIDS-prevention, yet in short supply.

“Empowering women to take control of their own fertility should be a basic human right, which the Catholic Church constantly tries to deny them,” said Mr Martin. “It is not just the women’s own health which is affected, but that of their children. Every mother subsisting on a dollar or two each day knows that her children would be better fed if the available food is divided among, say, four children than ten.”

“Furthermore, almost all the poorest countries now acknowledge that rapid population growth inhibits their development and degrades their environment”, he went on. “As UNICEF said as far back as 1992, “Family Planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other technology.” Yet the Church campaigns against it”.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health 2007 report ‘Return of the Population Growth Factor’ demonstrated the link between rapid population growth and failure to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

“Population growth in all countries, along with excessive consumption by the rich, are the two main drivers of all our looming environmental crises – food, water and energy security, climate change, and peak oil,” continued Mr Martin. “As our Patron David Attenborough says, all these would be easier to solve with fewer people, and ultimately impossible with ever more.”

“In any case, we all know our finite planet cannot sustain an infinite number of people; so population growth will definitely stop at some point – either sooner the humane way by fewer births through contraception, reproductive health and women’s empowerment, or later the natural way by more deaths through famine, disease and predation/war. There is no third alternative of indefinite growth. By campaigning against the former, the Pope is in fact campaigning for the latter.”

“He should be brave enough to do the decent thing, change the doctrine, and so do immense good to the world, at no cost, in one minute – as his predecessors were urged to do by the overwhelming majority of the 1964 Papal Commission. His refusal to do so does immense harm to women, the poor, the planet, and future generations.”


See or telephone 020 8123 9116.

Professor John Guillebaud can be contacted on 07779 180 188

Roger Martin can be contacted on 01749 672180

NOTES FOR EDITORS:OPT is an environmental charity, think-tank and campaign group, aiming to increase awareness of the environmental impact of population growth through campaigning, education and research. It was founded in 1991 by the late David Willey. Its patrons are: Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and wildlife film-maker; Sir Partha Dasgupta, Frank Ramsey, professor of economics, Cambridge University; Paul Ehrlich, professor of population studies, Stanford University; Jane Goodall, founder, the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace;John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning and reproductive health, University College, London; Susan Hampshire, actor; Dr. James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia theory; Aubrey Manning, broadcaster and professor of natural history, Edinburgh University; Professor Norman Myers, visiting fellow, Green College, Oxford; Sara Parkin, founder director and trustee, Forum for the Future; Jonathon Porritt, former chair, the UK Sustainable Development Commission; and Sir Crispin Tickell, director of the Policy Foresight Programme, James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation, Oxford University.

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