Republicans, Get In My Vagina

WordPress won’t let me embed this video but I urge you to check it out here.


Just So’s We’re Clear

Just so that we’re clear:

Being PRO-CHOICE means that you believe individual women should be free to make their own reproductive choices, which may include birth control or abortion or having any number of children. You believe each woman should make her own choices, even if you do not personally think abortion is right, and/or you would never make that choice for yourself.

Being PRO-LIFE means you believe women should NOT have certain reproductive options (abortion, perhaps emergency contraception, sometimes even all forms of birth control). You do not believe individual women should be able to make their own choices based on their beliefs, instead you wish to outlaw abortion and/or certain other reproductive options.

If a politician says they are “pro-life”, they are clearly communicating that they wish to end abortion rights, and maybe some or all birth control rights as well.

Or, for example, a devout Catholic could be completely against abortion, but yet still be pro-choice because they do not want to prevent all women from making their own decisions based on their own beliefs.

One position is about increasing freedom, and another is about reducing it. Just so’s we’re all clear on that

White House to Reverse Theocratic Bush-Era Regulation

h/t to commentor, ahem, Bubbabutt.

CNN reports:

The Obama administration plans to reverse a regulation from late in the Bush administration allowing health-care workers to refuse to provide services based on moral objections, an official said Friday.

…Under the [Bush] rule, workers in health-care settings — from doctors to janitors — can refuse to provide services, information or advice to patients on subjects such as contraception, family planning, blood transfusions and even vaccine counseling if they are morally against it.

An unnamed Health Dept official said, “[W]e do not want to impose new limitations on services that would allow providers to refuse to provide to women and their families services like family planning and contraception that would actually help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place.”

I contemplated all the reasons that the Bush Administration’s rule would be terrible for women and gays and quoted ACOG and AMA objections to it.

I am so happy to hear that the Obama Administration is going to do away with this unnecessary and theocratic regulation. As the American College of Gynocologists states, “Although respect for conscience is important, conscientious refusals should be limited if they constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients [or] negatively affect a patient’s health.”

Women in Developing Countries Get Reprieve from Reagan’s Mexico City Policy

That’s how I feel right now!

The Global Gag Rule, a.k.a. the Mexico City Policy, has been repealed (again). Thanks President Obama!

Reagan first instituted this rule at a conference in Mexico City in 1984. Clinton repealed it in 1993. G.W. Bush reinstated it in 2001. And now, in 2009, it has been re-repealed.

Why so much political monkeying? That’s not hard to guess: it has to do with women. Women of color. Poor women of color. You can see there’s trouble brewing…

Here’s what this rule did: “In order to be eligible for family planning funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), NGOs may not use their own funds to provide any services related to abortion, including counseling or referrals, even if abortion is legal in their country. They also may not lobby to make or keep abortion legal in their own country.”

To let you know how much money is at stake, USAID’s 2009 budget allocates almost $7 billion to health and AIDS initiatives.

And, Did You Know, there’s already an earlier law (1973) called the Helms Amendment in place forbidding the use of US funds to pay for abortion in other countries.

So what the Mexico City Policy means is…

1. Even if a clinic or agency uses its own funds (i.e. from other sources) for counseling, referrals, or performing abortion or providing post-abortion care, they will get all their USAID funding cut.

2. Since the USAID funding already wasn’t going to abortion, when USAID funding gets cut, all the health programs at the affected clinics are hurt: pre- & post-natal care, birth control availability, HIV/AIDS work, etc.

3. If a clinic accepts USAID funds under the Mexico City Policy, they cannot be honest with their patients about all the reproductive options available to them. They can’t even refer their patients to another clinic that does, because that would be an abortion referral. Their patients no longer have a choice.

4. Staff at clinics and agencies who accept USAID funds under the MCP cannot speak publicly about the need for legal and safe abortion. They cannot lobby against laws that criminalize all abortion or imprison women who have abortions. This is why women’s advocates call it the Global Gag Rule.

Of course, all of this was taking place in developing countries until today, when Obama repealed this nonsense. What a bunch of political hooey- a crappy policy that doesn’t actually lower the rate of abortion, but does harm reproductive-age women, their children, HIV/AIDS sufferers, and their communities, all for the sake of self-righteous political posturing.

Here’s what women in developing countries have said about the effects of the MCP:

“I think they are killing these women, just as if they are pointing a gun and shooting. There is no difference,” said Hilary Fyfe, chair of the Family Life Movement of Zambia. Her organization opposes abortion, but still lost approximately $30,000 in U.S. funds for telling adolescents and young adults that unsafe and potentially fatal abortions are one possible consequence of unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancies.

“In one breath the U.S. is telling my government to promote human rights, good governance. In the other breath it says take away the rights of women to know about all the issues that surround their reproductive health and one of [these issues] will be abortion.”
— Nkandu Luo, Former Minister of Health of Zambia, Society for Women and AIDS in Zambia

“My country has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the region. I cannot even discuss this with legislators in my country due to the global gag rule. And of course I am unable even to stand here in your country — where you so value free speech — and discuss openly the reasons that high maternal mortality and unsafe abortion rates continue to impact so many Peruvian women. I do not want to endanger funding for the thousands of women our project is serving”
— Susana Galdos Silva, co-founder of Movimiento Manuela Ramos and executive director of ReproSalud

“In the case of family planning services, prenatal and postnatal care, these services used to be available for a low cost. After the gag rule, people paid more. It is definitely some of the very poor and economically weak who are affected.”
— Staff, Nepalese NGO

“It is one thing what the law says—it is another thing altogether how it is interpreted and applied…I’m afraid to even mention the term ‘sexual health,’ forget even ‘sexual rights,’ because no one knows how this will be interpreted.”
— Asociación Dominicana Pro-Bienestar de la Familia spokeswoman, Dominican Republic

“The Global Gag Rule does not make sense. It is not applied to the United States. Instead, it is applied to countries that are the poorest … that have the highest rates of maternal mortality.”
— Staff, Kenyan government agency

Health and family planning clinics have shut down or reduced services in Latin America, Asia and Africa because of this rule. It might seem neat to pander to a certain set of single-issue voters by misrepresenting this issue (since 1973 US law has forbade US funds being used for abortion overseas). However, those who feel the effects are the poorest of the world’s poor who desperately need the services available at these clinics, including children. Would supporters of the MCP still support it if they truly understood its real-world effects?

Obama has done the right thing. But will it only stand until the next Republican president has a “base” to pander to?

Information and quotes obtained at:
Population Action International

Women’s Enews

Planned Parenthood

Bush: One More Way to Screw Women? Do It!

President Bush is physically and mentally incapable of passing on a chance to screw somebody over.  Doing so in the waning months of his presidency through “Midnight Regulations” is like an early Christmas for him.

Take, for example, the proposed rule “Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices In Violation of Federal Law.”

Well, that sounds innocuous.  No one likes coercion or discrimination!

But what should this rule turn out to be, than a vehicle to allow certain Christians the right to refuse reproductive health services to women in any and every conceivable scenario?

Funny, the title of the rule doesn’t mention this.  The description fails to clearly identify the groups whose rights are being expanded, and the groups whose rights are shrinking.  And… there are already several federal laws in place protecting “conscientious objectors” from being coerced into performing medical services they deem unethical or immoral, including the Church Amendments, section 245 of the Public Health Services Act and the Wheldon Amendment.

Why would we need another regulation to do the same thing?  That’s were this proposed rule gets interesting.  From the text of the rule: “There appears to be an attitude toward the health care professions that health care professionals and institutions should be required to provide or assist in the provision of medicine or procedures to which they object, or else risk being subjected to discrimination.”  “Appears to be”?  What is that?  Somebody’s casual observation or anecdotal knowledge of an “attitude” they don’t like is enough to require presidential action?  That sounds… odd.

“In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care field that is intolerant of individual conscience, certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions.”  Uh huh, suddenly we care about “ethnic traditions” and diversity in the health care field.  Right.  We all know the crap that’s about to follow is going to actually be about protecting a certain segment of the Christian community.  Anything else is incidental.

Oddly, though the precedents cited in the proposed rule are all related to abortion and sterilization, this rule doesn’t actually specify that it only applies to these things.  Instead, “…we propose that the term “health service program” should be understood to include an activity related in any way to providing medicine, health care, or any other service related to health or wellness…”

And this ain’t just about doctors: “…the Department proposes to include participation in any activity with a reasonable connection to the objectionable procedure, including referrals, training, and other arrangements for offending procedures.  For example… an employee whose task it is to clean the instruments used in a particular procedure would be considered to assist in the performance of the particular procedure.”

So as you can see, this means that anyone with even the most tenuous connection to a given health service can refuse to perform just about any health service in any situation so long as they say they object to it on religious grounds. And if they object to a certain health service, they will not even be required to refer their patient to someone who can provide the service. It isn’t hard to imagine scenarios where lives could be at stake with these shenanigans.

This ain’t just about abortion any more.  If this rule goes into effect, anybody can object to participating in any part of any health service provision and expect to keep their job.  I wonder if certain groups of people, with members of said group currently in political power, will disproportionately enjoy the effects of this rule?  I wonder if certain groups of people, currently out of favor with those in political power, will disproportionately suffer from this broad “right to refuse”?

“This regulation does not limit patient access to health care, but rather protects any individual health care provider or institution…”  Oh.  Whew, I was worried.

But wait!  From the LA Times:

Last year, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology said a “patient’s well-being must be paramount” when a conflict arises over a medical professional’s beliefs.

In calling for limits on “conscientious refusals,” ACOG cited four recent examples. In Texas, a pharmacist rejected a rape victim’s prescription for emergency contraception. In Virginia, a 42-year-old mother of two became pregnant after being refused emergency contraception. In California, a physician refused to perform artificial insemination for a lesbian couple. (In August, the California Supreme Court ruled that this refusal amounted to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation.) And in Nebraska, a 19-year-old with a life-threatening embolism was refused an early abortion at a religiously affiliated hospital.

“Although respect for conscience is important, conscientious refusals should be limited if they constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients [or] negatively affect a patient’s health,” ACOG’s Committee on Ethics said. It also said physicians have a “duty to refer patients in a timely manner to other providers if they do not feel that they can in conscience provide the standard reproductive services that patients request.”

Well, what does the American Medical Association think? They do tend to favor the interests of doctors.

From the LA Times: “The American Medical Assn. and the American Hospital Assn. in October urged HHS to drop the regulation.”

Ah hah. Now we see exactly where this is going. So we can expect more incidents like those cited above with this proposed rule tipping, nay, slamming the balance between rights of the patient and rights of the medical worker way over to the side of the medical worker. And rather unambiguously, the patients whose rights will be overridden seem to be overwhelmingly female, with a small but significant number of LGBT patients to boot.

I feel like we’re right back at the culture war crap that I was discussing in my series about Demographic Winter. It’s the same shit!

In the lofty language of the proposed rule, it isn’t immediately clear who exactly stands to gain and who stands to lose. But when these concepts start to play out in real life, an undeniable picture forms. Socially conservative Christians want more latitude to discriminate against women and gays in health care and get away with it. So Bush & Co. draw up a broad bill that conceals this very specific agenda at the same time that it supports it.

The WSJ says: “It will take effect 30 days after being issued. That means that if the Bush administration issues the regulation this week, it will become final before Mr. Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, and his administration won’t be able to undo it easily.”

As wonderful commenter Terabithia on Feministing put it:

Its like if I took a job at starbucks and then announced that caffeine is against my religion and I will only take orders for the decaffinated beverages. Instead of telling me I have to do my job or leave, Starbucks would be required to either hire another person to look over my shoulder and do the parts of my job I won’t do, or allow customers to be refused their orders. Only instead of caffeine, replace it with time-sensitive critical medical care.


For more information:
You can find a PDF of the proposed rule at ProPublica
“Broader medical refusal rule may go far beyond abortion” from the LA Times
“The Abortion Wars Get Technical: Women have few rights at all when doctors can legally misinform them or deny service entirely” from Newsweek
“Bush-Era Abortion Rules Face Possible Reversal” from Wall Street Journal
Feministe discussion: “Sorry, ladies, but your vagina conflicts with my morals.”

Babies: Endangered Animals Pt.3

This post has been updated since originally published

So I’m finally going to make good on my brash statement in Parts 1 & 2 that I would research every Expert and Funder of Demographic Winter.

It took a really long time! With really intriguing results. I will do a Part 4 on online media coverage of the documentary. I wish I had looked at more online reviews before I watched… much of my response to DW was presaged by others. I guess that makes me feel that my conclusions aren’t too far off base. Though I haven’t seen a single person anywhere doubt the fact of white fertility decline, many people online also recoiled at the solutions offered by the film, and detected the hidden racism that I sensed. So, more on that in the future.

The trends I noticed while researching those behind the film are as follows: though a good chunk of the academics, writers, sociologists and economists interviewed in Demographic Winter are indeed conservative, but not all of them as rabidly as I expected. A few could be described as Christian fundies. In the information below, I tried to include facts that were relevant to the claims I’m making, whether supporting my claims or contradicting them.

A few experts in the film, and all of the funders, can be traced to hard-right Christian organizations, and unexpectedly, the funding seems to be coming from Mormon-run organizations. Who woulda thunk it? The fact that this was not disclosed during the film, and that instead the makers allowed the mostly non-hard-right-Christian academics to be the “face” of the film, is deeply dishonest. The makers of the film in fact had a social-religious agenda and used a real social issue and honest academics to push it on unsuspecting viewers. Icky.

So here’s what I found by canvassing the interwebs:


Harry S. Dent, Harvard MBA

Mr. Dent is an American writer and economist. He is known for his ideas about changing individual spending patterns across a lifetime, and using these ideas to forecast economic growth and slowdowns.

Norval Glenn PhD, Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Mr. Glenn is an American sociologist who focuses his research on marriage and family. His research has shown that children whose parents had amicable divorces have less successful marriages later in life than children whose parents had bad divorces. He has published prolifically, including such articles as “The Utility of Education and Attractiveness for Females’ Status Attainment through Marriage” and “Spiritual but Not Religious: The Impact of Parental Divorce on the Religious and Spiritual Identities of Young Adults in the United States.”

Nicholas Eberstadt PhD Harvard, American Enterprise Institute

From the AEI: “Eberstadt researches demographics, foreign aid, poverty, infant mortality, health disparities, and economic development. He has written extensively on Korea, East Asia, and countries of the former Soviet Union.”

From RightWeb: “Eberstadt spoke at an October 2006 AEI event on “Religion and the American Future.” The event’s description stated, “The meek, it has been said, shall inherit the earth—but increasingly it appears that the future belongs not so much to the meek as to the devout. As fertility rates plummet across the globe, religious believers seem to be uniquely protected against the 21st century’s looming demographic implosion”.”

Alan Viard PhD Harvard Economics, American Enterprise Institute

Mr. Viard is an American economist at the AEI, a non-partisan institute that exists to “defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism.” He has written articles about taxes and entitlement programs.

From Right Web: “The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), based in Washington D.C., has been a leading member of the neoconservative advocacy community for nearly three decades and is one of the more prominent U.S. policy institutions.”

Lola Velarde PhD, President of the European Network Institute for Family Policies

Ms. Velarde is the coordinator of the World Congress on Families, a “a global gathering of social conservatives … and European Christians,” which is attended my many of the experts and funders in the film and is supported by the Family First Foundation, which employs the funders and some of the experts, and itself was a major funder of DW.

She supports “prenatal rights” for fetuses. There is no information available in English on the internet for the “European Network Institute for Family Policies.”

Viktor Medkov PhD, Professor of Sociology, Lomonossov Moscow State University, Russia

Mr. Medkov has researched Russia’s declining fertility rates. He has participated in events sponsored by the World Family Policy Center, a project of Brigham Young University, which “seeks to provide balanced, solidly researched, pro-family education to … the United Nations System, … in order to protect and preserve the place of the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

In the film, it is Medkov who says, “Economic solutions won’t fix these problems.”

David Popenoe PhD, Professor of Sociology Rutgers University

Mr. Popenoe is an urban planner turned sociologist of marriage. He has been a vocal proponent of “traditional” marriage, and his ideas are admired by the religious right, though he himself is a Democrat. His “Top 10 Myths of Marriage” is often reproduced.

Steve Nock PhD, Professor of Sociology & Director of Marriage Matters Project, University of Virginia

American author and sociologist Steve Nock recently passed away. He wrote about changes in the American family and researched covenant marriage. The Marriage Matters Project: “Over the course of the last half-century, three social revolutions–the family revolution, the gender revolution, and the secular revolution–have profoundly reshaped the character, quality, and stability of marriage in the West….the Marriage Matters (MM) Project aims to assess the enduring consequences of these revolutions for the institution of marriage by considering the role that four values-unconditional love, generativity, gender complementarity, and spirituality-now play in shaping the quality and stability of contemporary marriage in the West.”

Bradford Wilcox PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia

Mr. Wilcox worked with Mr. Nock on the Marriage Matters Project. He is an American writer and sociologist who studies family, marriage and religion. He authored the book Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands. According to his article “The Ring Thing,” he believes the media glorifies single-parenting and sperm donation to the detriment of children. Along with Mr. Nock, he wrote about how egalitarianism in marriage is not beneficial.

Kay Hymowitz, Manhattan Institute fellow

Ms. Hymowitz is an American conservative pundit and former teach of English at the college level. She has written in a variety of newspapers about her anti-feminism, the immaturity of men, and how single parents raise their children poorly, as well as other related topics. She is a proponent of traditional marriage.

Linda Waite PhD, Professor of Urban Sociology, University of Chicago

Ms. Waite is an American sociologist who studies aging, family, religion and marriage. She is a proponent of traditional marriage and has written about the negative effects of cohabitation. She co-authored a book with Maggie Gallagher called “The Case for Marriage,” where she explains that married sex is superior to non-married sex. She describes herself as liberal and pro-gay marriage.

Gary Becker PhD, Nobel Prize in Economics 1992, University of Chicago

The conservative American economist Gary Becker has accomplishments in four areas of economics: human capital, household behavior and work distribution, crime and punishment, and discrimination in the market. His achievements include a long list of awards, honorary degrees, and appointments.

Maria Sophia Aguirre PhD, Associate Professor of Business, Catholic University of America

Ms. Aguirre is an Argentine-American economist with a PhD from Notre Dame. She has written about family, women and economics. She served on the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Alban d’Entremont PhD, Professor of Economics, University of Navarra, Spain

Mr. d’Entremont is a Canadian geographer, economist and professor living in Spain. He has written three books on population, economic geography and demographics, as well as many articles on these and related topics.

Mark Regnerus PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Mr. Regnerus is an American professor of Sociology and Religious Studies. He has written books and articles about religion and sex, including the book Forbidden Fruit, Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers and the article, “How Corrosive is College to Religious Faith and Practice?”

Robert Michael PhD, Professor of Public Policy, University of Chicago

Mr. Michael’s expertise lies in child and family social policy, familial economics, and the study of sexual practices, among other subjects. He assisted in America’s first scientific study of sexual practices in 1994. He has also done research on poverty.

Dr. Jianguo Liu, Director of Sustainability, Michigan State University

From the Population Studies Center at MSU: “Dr. Liu’s research interests include conservation ecology, human-environment interactions, systems modeling and simulation, and impacts of human population and activity on spatio-temporal dynamics of endangered species. He is keenly interested in integrating ecology with socioeconomics as well as human demography and behavior.”

Patrick Fagan, Psychologist, Family Research Council

The Irish-American Mr. Fagan is a former employee of the Heritage Foundation, a deeply conservative think tank. He was also formerly a Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary. He has written some articles, including “Virgins Make the Best Valentines.” From the Family Research Council: “Patrick F. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Family and Religion, where he examines the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America’s social problems as illustrated in the social sciences research data.” The Family Research Council “champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.” Mr. Fagan is also on the Board of the Family First Foundation.

Phil Longman, New America Foundation Fellow

From the New American review of DW: “Phillip Longman, a man self-described as “not churched” and part of a “progressive, secular think tank,” prescribes a rather “unprogressive” cure. The facts demand, he suggests, a return to tradition, to a system that persuaded both men and women to have children and take care of them. He calls it “patriarchy, properly understood.”

From the New America Foundation: “Phillip Longman is a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and Research Director of the Next Social Contract Initiative. He is the author of numerous articles and books on demographics, economics, and social change”

About the NAF: “The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States. New America emphasizes work that is responsive to the changing conditions and problems of our 21st Century information-age economy — an era shaped by transforming innovation and wealth creation, but also by shortened job tenures, longer life spans, mobile capital, financial imbalances and rising inequality.”

Alan Tapper PhD, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Edith Cowan University, Australia

Mr. Tapper wrote the book The Family in the Welfare State, a study on Australia’s family policy and has written articles about demographic decline. He does not believe that women bear the majority of the blame for fertility decline. His research includes eighteenth-century intellectual history and contemporary social issues.

Inese Slesere, Latvia Member of Parliament

Ms. Slesere has been a member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy in the European Parliament. She is also a member of Latvian Parliament from Latvia’s First Party. She has advocated for child-care leave. She has attended the World Congress on Families, a “a global gathering of social conservatives … and European Christians.” She has been quoted as saying “As Christian values are promoted, our economic stability will be advanced.”


Barry McLerran

Mr. McLerran is the producer of DW through a company, SRB Documentary, for which there is no information listed online. He has been quoted as saying, “Far from dooming the planet, by encouraging people to have children, traditional religion is helping to save humanity.” He has participated in the World Congress for Families and is Executive Director of the Family First Foundation (more on FFF below).

Rick Stout

Mr. Stout directed DW. He has said, “Besides a smattering of pro-family activists, interviewees addressed the crisis of falling birthrates from an academic perspective.” Besides being described as an “award-winning” director on Lifesite News, I cannot locate further information about his directorial accomplishments.

Steven Smoot

Mr. Smoot is the Executive Producer of DW. He is also President and Founder of the Family First Foundation.

Family First Foundation

FFF is located in Bountiful, UT. From the FFF website: “The natural family – founded upon an enduring marriage between a man and a woman which blossoms throughout the generations with children, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins – is the cornerstone of any successful civilization. Never before has more legal, historical and scientific evidence demonstrated the crucial importance of reinforcing, supporting and stabilizing the natural family. At the same time, never before has the natural family, as well as public opinion regarding its meaning and importance, been more fragile. This fragility is dangerous. Without concerted and effective action, the world’s most essential social structures – including marriage, parental responsibility, childhood innocence, respect for life and religious liberty – may erode beyond repair.”


“Almost every social ill can be directly traced to the disintegration of the natural family.”

FFF lists the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, World Congress of Families, the Heritage Foundation, the World Family Policy Center, and United Families International as organizations it supports. FFF and some of these organizations explicitly state that they want to limit marriage to heterosexuals.

GFC Foundation

The GFC Foundation, located in Orem, Utah, is led by Rachel Swim, a recent Brigham Young University graduate. It has no website. “[T]he foundation supports the American Heritage School, a 35-year-old K-8 school in American Fork, Utah, that integrates historical American moral values with a rigorous education.”

Audience Alliance Motion Picture Foundation

The AAMPF describes themselves as “We’re filmmakers and movie lovers with a passion for uplifting stories. The majority of movies being made these days have shown a significant decline in inspiring values.” They also say “Complaining, boycotting, lamenting and ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ by assailing Hollywood is NOT the way to win the battle in the war on culture and values.” And “Audience Alliance has no affiliation with or commitment to any political, religious, geographic or cultural bias other than the values described in our Virtues and Values Matrix™.” This matrix lists the values that the AAMPF applies to films. Included is “Breaking the laws of the land or the laws of God will never be rewarded and the consequences of bad choices will always be associated with failure, disappointment and unhappiness. Stories will resolve in a way that demonstrates that good choices are rewarded and bad choices ultimately bring sorrow, heartache and disappointment.”

As you can see, while the film chose some centrist and some conservative academics (and one liberal) as experts, certain religious and socially conservative organizations are what funded and nurtured this film. Particularly prominent is the Family First Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the World Congress for Families.

What are your impressions of this disjunct between the funders and the faces?

In this series:
Part 1 on my initial reactions to the documentary Demographic Winter
Part 2 digs deeper into the meaning of the film
Part 3 looks at who is in and behind the film
Part 4 examines partisan media coverage of DW

Babies: Endangered Animals Pt.2

This is my second post dealing with the documentary “Demographic Winter,” about Western fertility decline. In this post, I want to explore a little deeper into the film’s implications.

First, I’d like to mention that I do not doubt one of the basic facts mentioned in the film: that many Western and industrialized countries are experiencing birth rates below the “replacement level” of 2.1 births per woman. Aside from this basic agreement, the makers of the film and I disagree on just about everything else contained therein.

The film employs an ingenuous arsenal of arguments that just happen to point the viewer to the conclusion that the only way to save the (white) human race is through a massive suppression of women’s rights and a return to an idealized version of 1950s American society. Incidentally, gay rights and immigration must also be suppressed. The narrator and many experts in the film say the conclusions to be drawn from the “science” are not PC (their use of the term, not mine), and that is why these shocking facts about demographic disaster have not gotten more mainstream play. This supposition, of course, depends on your belief that the media is always carefully, perhaps even fascistically, PC. But, to play the devil’s advocate, if the media isn’t unwarrantedly PC, could there be other, more obvious reasons why this film hasn’t seen wide viewership?

Now, what political and social groups present us with similar arguments to justify their goals? Hmmm… social conservatives, Christian fundamentalists, racists, homophobes and male chauvinists. I’m going to hypothesize RIGHT NOW that when I research the Experts and the Funders of this film in my next post in this series, I will find that many are allied with these very groups. Anyone wanna bet me?

Currently, the world fertility rate is 2.61, above replacement rate. That means that while certain countries are below replacement rate, there must be even more above it. About 124 of the 221 countries listed in the CIA World Fact Book are at or above replacement rate, including the US (the chart has 223 entries, but this includes their entries for “world” and “E.U.”). The E.U. fertility rate is at 1.50, but countries such as Japan, Thailand,Turkey and Lebanon are also below replacement.


Since below-replacement-level fertility (brlf) has been recorded in several areas of the world, why does the film focus on majority-white countries to the almost complete exclusion (with the exception of Japan) of non-white countries? Why does the film include the US in its list of brlf countries, when we are currently at replacement rate? And why are 81% of the experts in the film white, if this is a trend affecting East and West Asia almost as much as Europe?

Race is the elephant in the room throughout this entire film. The US is included as “endangered” for two reasons: 1) historically, our fertility rates are trending downwards, and may dip brlf in the near future; and 2) the main reason our fertility rate is at replacement level is because of recent (Latino) immigrants and their descendants, most of whom are not white, and many of whom have well above replacement level fertility. However, we are told that it is in their best interests that this be considered bad for the US. Why? Because immigrants who come to the US are mostly young males (says the film). This leads to gender imbalance, separated families and brain-drain in their home countries, which is bad.

The Department of Homeland Security publishes an annual Yearbook of Immigration. The 2007 Yearbook, the most recent one available, lists legal immigrants to America as being mostly female, mostly above the age of 30, and mostly married. Huh. While not stating it out loud, the film must have been referring to undocumented immigrants, who are 60-70% male and often young. Some of the “youthfulness” of undocumented immigrants may be attributed to the fact that 1 in 6 is a child.

So when the film is talking about humans going extinct, what they really mean is whites. It just doesn’t say that. There’s a lot of things the film doesn’t say, and what goes unsaid is often more interesting than what is said.


If you aren’t familiar with this political meme, here is a definition from The Howard Center:

The natural family is a man and woman bound in a lifelong covenant of marriage for the purposes of:
*the continuation of the human species,
*the rearing of children,
*the regulation of sexuality,
*the provision of mutual support and protection,
*the creation of an altruistic domestic economy, and
*the maintenance of bonds between the generations.

You can see the relevance to “Demographic Winter.” The combo-deal of continuation of the species, children, sexuality control and economics would be enough, but the fact that the film specifically mentions the decline of the “natural family” as a cause of concern let’s you know what we’re dealing with. This is a phrase used by certain social conservatives of a fundie-Christian bent when they are attacking working women, non-procreative sex, gays, no-fault divorce and birth control. “Demographic Winter” more or less equates the “natural family” with “Patriarchy,” which I find rather accurate, and lists this as the one solution to demographic disaster.

Of course, this meme ignores some small matters, like human history and reality. Historically, family has taken many different forms: tribes and clans based on kinship, extended family groups who live in a single dwelling, polygyny, and the occasional matriarchal society. Wikipedia: “The popularity of the nuclear family in the West came about in the early 20th century, prompted in part by business practices of Henry Ford, such as the “8 hour day, $5 week”, and later the New Deal policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt. This enabled more and more families to be economically independent, and thus to own their own home.”

Huh, but if the nuclear family (similar to “natural family”, but with a slightly wider definition that could include same-sex partners, or unmarried parents) is a family structure of recent popularity, and demographic decline is a recent phenomena, how can certain experts in the film claim that it is the weakening of this sort of family that is causing the decline? This question is not answered because believers in the “natural family” meme claim without thorough research that their family model is the only successful one that has existed throughout history. The most cursory glance into the history of family structure proves otherwise.


The insistence on the primacy and necessity of this very specific family structure nicely supports an important part of the demographic disaster argument: that women bear an enormous part of the burden for the recent listing of humans as an endangered species. Treating women as equal and as human beings is one of the direct causes of brlf, as listed in Part 1. Allowing (white) women birth control, abortion, control of their own sexuality, equality in marriage and careers is causing them to have fewer children. These are not parts of the “natural family” of Patriarchy and idealized 1950s America, because in that model women are carefully controlled by the men in their lives. Their life choices are restricted to the private sphere of marriage, house-keeping and child-rearing while dependent on a man, who is the dominant head of the family. Interestingly, 3/4 of the experts in the film were male. Coincidence?

Of course, the film doesn’t come out and say that men need to roll back women’s rights. Instead, they give you all the supporting arguments and leave the conclusion to you, the viewer. Do you want whites to become extinct, or don’t you? If you don’t, you know what to do. *wink*


Strangely, a few experts in the film mention gay rights, but without further explanation. They are just grouped in with things that are “progressive,” things that weaken the family, things that were all the rage in the 70s.

What are gays doing in a discussion of white fertility rates? We can only guess. Are we to assume that by allowing gays some civil rights, we are glorifying a non-reproductive lifestyle that many impressionable young people will want to join, thereby taking even more people out of the breeding pool? Or that by entertaining the thought of allowing gays to marry, we are weakening the “natural family” and contributing to the extinction of whites? The unexplained inclusion of gays in this conversation seems to unintentionally flag the politics of this allegedly apolitical film. Who else bands the “threat” of women’s rights, secularism and equality for POC together with gay rights quite so frequently as social conservatives and fundie Christians?


Yet another thing left unsaid in this film is the religious beliefs that quite clearly form the bedrock of much of the argument. Though they are ever-present, they are not explicitly stated. Instead, the film plays at being objectively non-religious. An expert just happens, in his objective scientific pursuit of facts, to notice that religious people (in the US) have more children. Based on this fact, he can, without being accused of bias towards a certain set of beliefs, state that non-religious people will go extinct first. It just so happens that 84% of Americans are Christian. So completely coincidentally, objective scientific inquiry has shown us that Christians may yet save whites by going forth and multiplying (in America), while non-religious people can be blamed for declining white fertility.

The obvious duplicity of not mentioning the Christian foundations of much of their argument cripples their pretenses at objectivity. The inclusion of memes like the “natural family” which is often supported by biblical arguments, the tirades against women’s unrestrained sexuality but not men’s, the essentialist gender behavior statements, and the random inclusion of gay rights as bad are some of the bread crumbs that lead to the fundie Christian beliefs hiding behind the “science.”

So there you have it, some of my deeper analysis of what lies behind the science of “Demographic Winter.” My final installment looking at the experts and funders behind this film will appear in the next day or two or three.

In this series:
Part 1 on my initial reactions to the documentary Demographic Winter
Part 2 digs deeper into the meaning of the film
Part 3 looks at who is in and behind the film
Part 4 examines partisan media coverage of DW

Babies: Endangered Animals Pt.1

This post has been updated since originally published

“In our rush to modernize, did we throw the baby out with the bathwater?” asks the little-seen 2007 documentary Demographic Winter: the Decline of the Human Family.

The documentary theorizes that declining fertility (among whites) in the West will lead the entire world into a spiral of economic, social and moral collapse. It deploys science to ensure the viewer that its dire warning is not to be dismissed: pie charts, graphs, statistics, professors. There are 21 experts interviewed in the film, all of whom have impressive résumés, and some of whom seem so disturbed by the message they are forced to impart that they can barely look directly at the camera. Interestingly, 76% of the experts were male, and 81% (or more, I erred on the side of caution when I wasn’t sure) were white.

I just watched the documentary today, after long anticipation, and I want to break down what I saw, as the thinking behind this film is strongly influencing a certain strain of political and social thought these days. Even someone as prominent as Mitt Romney, in his concession speech, discussed the Demographic Disaster. It’s popping up on right-leaning media sources and blogs. It’s used to justify a whole slew of discriminatory practices and laws. And it’s dressed in the clothing of SCIENCE.

The basic argument sketched by the experts and the narrator is as follows:

If we experience a population decline, then progressive causes rooted in the 70s belief of an impending “population bomb” are invalid, possibly harmful, and need to be reversed. We are experiencing a population decline. Therefore, progressive causes must be reversed.

The harmful “progressive causes” implicated are listed only as women’s rights, gay rights, and environmentalism. Of course, we can spot a case of false premise in these neat argument… are these three causes really invalid in the event of a population decline? Of course not. Are these three causes the sole result of concerns of over-population? No. Are these three causes homogeneous enough with each other and internally within themselves to be dismissed with a single simple argument? Nope.

Here are five causes of fertility decline, according to the film:
1. Women Working
2. Prosperity
3. Sexual Revolution
4. Divorce Revolution (their term)
5. Inaccurate Assumptions about the “population bomb”

And here are the three possible solutions they suggest:
1. Providing economic incentives to have more children
2. The “Swedish Model”: a strong welfare state
3. Patriarchy (their word, not mine)

Their analysis of these:
1. Tried in Russia and failed.
2. Tried in Sweden and failed.
3. THE ONLY SOLUTION THAT WORKS. Evidence and examples of countries succeeding under Patriarchy are not provided, probably because the obvious correctness of this solution precludes the usual formality of scientific inquiry. Comparative studies of societies outside of the West with patriarchal and non-patriarchal structures are not mentioned once.

We are taught that children grow up stupid and criminal unless raised by both biological parents who cannot divorce, who married young, who are heterosexual, who are white (this is not stated explicitly, but is implied), who were abstinent until marriage, who do not use birth control, who are strongly religious, and preferably with a stay-at-home wife. “Married biological parents is the Gold Standard,” says one expert.

On the flip side, sex before marriage, having children out of wedlock, gays having rights, women in careers, divorce, non-religiousness, birth control, single-parent households, belief in Darwin’s theories, and late marriage are all listed as indicators of an unhealthy society where families are weakening and which may soon become extinct. One expert even suggests that non-religious people will go extinct first, as religious families have disproportionately more children.

This is of course all said very carefully. Nothing directly anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-freedom of religion, or anti-POC is stated out loud. But I am interested in looking further into the backgrounds of the experts and funders in order to figure out who is behind this theory.

Below is a list of the experts and the funders. If readers here want look up their credentials and affiliations and post information in the comments, please do! In a later post I want to write more about who was chosen to appear in this documentary. They are not listed here for purposes of harassment, however. No hate mail!


Harry S. Dent, Harvard MBA
Norval Glenn PhD, Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
Nicholas Eberstadt PhD Harvard, American Enterprise Institute
Alan Viard PhD Harvard Economics, American Enterprise Institute
Lola Velarde PhD, President of European Network Institute for Family Policies
Viktor Medkov PhD, Professor of Sociology, Lomonossov Moscow State University, Russia
David Popenoe PhD, Professor of Sociology Rutgers University
Steve Nock PhD, Professor of Sociology & Director of Marriage Matters Project, University of Virginia
Bradford Wilcox PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia
Kay Hymowitz, Manhattan Institute fellow
Linda Waite PhD, Professor of Urban Sociology, University of Chicago
Gary Becker PhD, Nobel Prize in Economics 1992, University of Chicago
Maria Sophia Aguirre PhD, Associate Professor of Business, Catholic University of America
Alban d’Entremont PhD, Professor of Economics, University of Navarra, Spain
Mark Regnerus PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
Robert Michael PhD, Professor of Public Policy, University of Chicago
Dr. Jianguo Liu, Director of Sustainability, Michigan State University
Patrick Fagan, Psychologist, Family Research Council
Phil Longman, New America Foundation Fellow
Alan Tapper PhD, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Edith Cowan University, Australia
Inese Slesere, Latvia Member of Parliament


Barry McLerran
Rick Stout
Steven Smoot
Family First Foundation
GFC Foundation
Audience Alliance Motion Picture Foundation

More on this topic in the future! Discuss! Respect the human dignity of everyone when doing so!

In this series:
Part 1 on my initial reactions to the documentary Demographic Winter
Part 2 digs deeper into the meaning of the film
Part 3 looks at who is in and behind the film
Part 4 examines partisan media coverage of DW

Bad Economy. Let’s Stop Funding Reproductive Health!

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes how anti-choicers are leveraging the poor economy to try and take funding away from reproductive health and family planning.

Abortion opponents are pressing state and local governments to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, arguing that the nonprofit group has plenty of cash and shouldn’t be granted scarce public funds at a time of economic crisis.

Nice. So now that everyone’s losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet, it’s the optimum time to strike! It’s the perfect time to take away family planning services with the possible side effect that women who needed them will get unwanted pregnancies. Great thinking guys. Especially you, Family Research Council.

The Family Research Council is developing a kit to help grass-roots activists dig through financial reports so they can make detailed presentations to elected officials about the assets and revenue of local Planned Parenthood chapters. The council has sent letters to 1,200 state legislators describing Planned Parenthood’s strong financial position and urging “a second look” at public funding.

Awesome guys. Awesome. Way to show by your actions what your real intentions are. And they don’t appear to be saving babies or promoting the health and autonomy of women.

Via Feministing.