(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Bernie Sanders agreed Wednesday to make “the need to curb population growth” a key feature of his plan to address climate change, and then condemned the Trump administration’s policy of denying U.S. funding to organizations that perform or promote abortion in foreign countries.
During CNN’s marathon “climate crisis town hall” in New York, the 2020 presidential hopeful was asked about what his questioner acknowledged was “a poisonous topic for politicians.”
“Human population growth has more than doubled in the past 50 years. The planet cannot sustain this growth,” began Martha Readyoff, a teacher from New Milford, Conn.
“I realize this is a poisonous topic for politicians, but it's crucial to face,” she continued. “Empowering women and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact. Would you be courageous enough to discuss this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe?”
“The answer is yes,” Sanders replied. “And the answer has everything to do with the fact that women in the United States of America, by the way, have a right to control their own bodies and make reproductive decisions.”
“And the Mexico City Agreement [sic], which denies American aid to those organizations around the world that are – that allow women to have abortions or even get involved in birth control, to me is totally absurd,” he said.
“So I think, especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies, and where they can have the opportunity through birth control to control the number of kids they have – something I very, very strongly support.”
The Mexico City Policy to which Sanders was referring withholds health assistance funding from non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions, or that give money to other NGOs that promote or perform abortions.
The Reagan-era policy, which has been suspended by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican ones, was strengthened by the Trump administration. All seven senators (now six) in the 2020 Democratic presidential race co-sponsored legislation introduced in February to permanently repeal the policy, which critics derisively call the “global gag rule.”
Amid growing campaigning about what Readyoff described as “climate catastrophe,” the notion that overpopulation is driving global warming has taken hold in some quarters.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports have cited population growth as a key factor behind global warming, calling economic and population growth “the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.”
In Britain, a group calling itself BirthStrike has brought together people who are pledging not to have babies in response to their worries about the climate.
The “BirthStrike Declaration” reads, in part, “We, the undersigned, declare our decision not to bear children due to the severity of the ecological crisis and the current inaction of governing forces in the face if this existential threat.
“Insecurity of future, despair at our species’ relationship to our habitat and each other, channeling time into activism and rebellion, are all common motivations,” it states.