Who wants to be a eugenicist? Not President Barack Obama, I’m sure, and yet his reversing of the Mexico City Policy, which banned US foreign monies from going into organisations which perform or refer women for abortions, makes him an accomplice of a movement whose great aim, in the words of patron saint Margaret Sanger, is to stop the “unfit” breeding.

Now, billions of dollars of US foreign aid funds may go to groups for whom contraception, sterilization and abortion are all morally indifferent means to controlling the numbers of poor — mostly brown — people in the world.

And Australia wants to follow suit. The Howard government sided with the US Bush administration in banning such funds. But now Kevin Rudd’s Labour government is reconsidering its position on this. The Australian Greens, as expected, quickly came out calling for the restrictions to be lifted. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said: "Australia is now the only country that continues to enforce these draconian restrictions on our aid programs.”

With typical Green hyperbole and disingenuousness, she added: "34,000 mothers die in our region alone per year because of a lack of maternal health support. Australia's aid funding could be better used to reduce these alarming numbers. We need Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith to show compassion and to act now”.

It appears that the Greens’ idea of compassion is to promote the killing of babies. They may talk a lot about life but they actively support death, be it in the form of contraceptives, abortions or other anti-life policies.

National Senator Ron Boswell was clearly nearer the truth when he said that removing the ban would drain funding from such life-saving services as clean water, medicine and food: "Which services would we have to cut in order to provide abortion services? Medicine, a village well, food, birthing kits?"

This sort of thing goes back a long way. An Egyptian Pharaoh of 3,500 years ago and a Jewish King of 2000 years ago both sought to put to death a generation of innocents. Pharaoh ordered the death of all male babies, while King Herod ordered the death of all male children under two years of age. Both were early examples of eugenicists and population controllers. We look back in horror at their genocidal plans, but we are not all that different today. There are still plenty of folk pushing radical population control and eugenics policies.

And the motivations may not be all that different either. Pharaoh wanted to cull the growing Israelite population in Egypt: they were a threat to his rule and reign. Herod did not want to see another contender to the throne arise (the promised Messiah), so he took radical steps to ensure this would not occur.

Today the motivations may not be dissimilar. Sure, any such human cull proposals are always dressed up in fancy rhetoric and humanitarian-sounding aims. We must do something to save the planet, we are told. But that often translates into something rather like this: My Western lifestyle is cramped because there are too many of you (fill in the blank) around. My turf is being invaded by the swarming hordes, and I want them culled, so I can live a more comfortable life.

A race of thoroughbreds

A century ago the earlier eugenicists were much more forthright in their aims. They wanted “inferior” races put down and only the “superior” races preserved. Consider a number of quotes from the early promoters of eugenics — all from 1917-1920 issues of the Birth Control Review:

"Birth control is the message of a new social philosophy dedicated primarily to the proposition of voluntary motherhood and racial betterment. By its advent a new epoch is dawning in the affairs of men. A new race shall arise, released from the dead weight of poverty, disease, almshouses, asylums, reformatories and prisons. It shall be a race more dynamic in its pro-social impulses, more keen and alert to digest ideas, a race arising from a finer mother- and father-hood, from firesides where children have been wanted and welcomed and reared in an environment of human tenderness and all that that implies." (William Sanger)

”What is the average family of English intellectuals? About two and one-half. Of French physicians? One and one-half. Of married imbeciles? Six, or seven or eight, depending on the country. . . . we need [birth control] voluntary or enforced, if necessary by celibacy or segregation, for the seriously defective. . . . Godspeed the day when the unwilling mother, with her weak, puny body, her sad, anaemic unlovely face, and her dependent whine, will be no more. In that day, we shall see a race of American thoroughbreds, if not the superman.” (Anna E. Blount, M.D.)

"[Woman's] instincts are fundamentally creative, not destructive. But her sex-bondage has made the dumb instrument of the monster she detests. For centuries she has populated the earth in ignorance and without restraint, in vast numbers and with staggering rapidity. She has become not the mother of a nobler race, but a mere breeding machine grinding out a humanity which fills insane asylums, almshouses and sweat shops, and provides cannon fodder that tyrants may rise to power on the sacrifice of her offspring." (Margaret Sanger)

"A portion of infant and child mortality represents, no doubt, the lingering and wasteful removal from this world of beings with inherent defects, beings who for the most part ought never to have been born and need not have been born under conditions of greater foresight. The plain and simple truth is that [these children] are born needlessly. There are still far too many births for our civilization to look after adequately; we are still unfit to be trusted with a rising birth rate. Our civilization at present has neither the courage to kill them outright quickly, cleanly and painlessly, nor the heart and courage and ability to give them what they need." (H.G. Wells)

There are plenty more such quotes. Suffice it to say, with doctors, intellectuals and even religious leaders making these claims, it is no wonder the eugenics movement advanced so quickly and widely back then. It took the ultimate expression of eugenics, Hitler and his Final Solution, to really put a dent in all this.

A new anti-people campaign

But population controllers and eugenicists have not gone away. Their language has been toned down but they are still in the same business. Human-hating humanitarians are still very much with us.

Jonathan Porrit, another “greenie” and head of the British government’s Sustainable Development Commission, is calling on his government to reduce population growth by putting more funding into contraception and abortion — even if it means shifting money from other parts of the health budget.

“I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate,” he told The Times. “I think we will work our way towards a position that says that having more than two children is irresponsible. It is the ghost at the table. We have all these big issues that everybody is looking at and then you don’t really hear anyone say the ‘p’ word.”

Of course, we know who is responsible for making “population” an anti-social word in Britain, don’t we? Brown people from other countries and cultures. As The Times takes care to point out, British-born women have a birth rate of 1.7 children while the rate for women born elsewhere is estimated to be 2.5 children per woman. A similar pattern obtains globally: it is the (non-white) people of developing countries who are seen as the great threat to the planet — along with anyone who defends their right to reproduce.

At the same time, today’s eugenics goes beyond race and poverty issues towards a general hatred of the human race, and this position has some unlikely antagonists. British humanist and onetime communist, Frank Furedi (whose wife, Ann Furedi, happens to be a leading abortion advocate), criticises Porrit for elevating carbon reduction over the value of human life.

Writing in the Australian he observed: “Throughout history, different cultures have celebrated birth as a unique moment signifying the joy of life. The reinterpretation of birth as a form of greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour speaks to today's degraded imagination, where carbon-reduction becomes the supreme moral imperative. Once every newborn baby is dehumanised in this way, represented as a professional polluter who is a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel anything other than apprehension about the growth of the human race.”

Maybe, Furedi suggests, the extinction of the human race is the solution. If so, “The argument for limiting family sizes in Britain is the first hesitant step in that direction.”

History is replete with examples of rulers and elites engaging in eugenics and human population culls. It seems the lessons of history have not been learnt. Our “humanitarian” misanthropes continue to promote their culture of death. The packaging may have been tidied up a bit, but the same hatred of humanity remains.

Bill Muehlenberg is a lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges and a PhD candidate at Deakin University.

Bill Muehlenberg is Secretary of the Family Council of Victoria, and lectures in ethics and philosophy at various Melbourne theological colleges.