Fall Speaker Series: Advocacy Panel on November 19, 2020

Brian Dixon, Senior Vice President of Media and Government Relations at Population Connection and Population Connection Action Fund

Brian began his career working as a legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. Peter Kostmayer before joining Population Connection, then ZPG, in 1993. An expert on reproductive rights policy, Brian heads the advocacy programs at Population Connection and Population Connection Action Fund.

Stacie Murphy, Director of Congressional Relations at Population Connection and Population Connection Action Fund

Stacie came to Population Connection in 2007 as a Government Relations Fellow and joined the full time staff in 2008 as a Policy Associate. She represents the organization both on Capitol Hill and in meetings with coalition partners, and particularly enjoys getting outside the Beltway to speak on population issues for general audiences. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the George Washington University, with a concentration in Gender and Social Policy.

Rebecca Harrington, Senior Director of Advocacy and Outreach at Population Connection and Population Connection Action Fund

Rebecca oversees Population Connection’s field and outreach team, manages our grassroots efforts-including targeted campaigns in several targeted states-across the U.S., and organizes Capitol Hill Days, Population Connection’s annual advocacy weekend and lobby day.  Prior to working at Population Connection, she worked with students with learning disabilities at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.  She graduated from Bates College.

What Happens Next: A Discussion About Reproductive Rights Advocacy After the 2020 Election

This panel discussion will cover the landscape for reproductive rights advocacy in the aftermath of the 2020 election, as well as Population Connection and Population Connection Action Fund’s plans for our grassroots programs in 2021. 

*This presentation is co-sponsored by our sister organization, Population Connection Action Fund


Q+A

What will likely happen to Roe v Wade and Title X funding?
Action Fund Panelist’s Answer: It’s hard to know exactly what will happen to Roe. It could be entirely overturned, or it could technically be left in place, but with so many state-level restrictions allowed that abortion becomes completely inaccessible for people who don’t have the means to travel to a more permissive location.  Self-managed abortion will almost certainly become more common, something already being observed in places like the Rio Grande Valley, where surgical abortion providers are rare and abortion-inducing medications can be obtained over the counter across the border in Mexico. On Title X, I expect the removal of the Domestic Gag Rule, but again, that was done through regulations, so it will take a minimum of several months to do.

With Roe vs. Wade in the balance why can’t states pass legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose and allow abortions up until 3-4 months?
Action Fund Panelist’s Answer: They can, and several are. Virginia, for example, has passed good, proactive legislation protecting the right to choose. But whether or not that is feasible depends on control of state legislatures, so it’s a pretty spotty way of creating access. And more broadly, we believe the right to abortion is a fundamental human right, and not up to individual states to determine.

Why did you refer to patients & people, rather than women, in your suggested message on the Global Gag Rule? Women are the only people that need abortions. Please stop the erasure of women!
Action Fund Panelist’s Answer: There are several reasons. First, while abortion is the rhetorical justification for the Global Gag Rule, the policy is far, far broader. It’s not just abortion care – or reproductive health care – being threatened, it’s all the health care that providers offer.
So while women are the primary targets of this discriminatory policy, and it’s their health needs put most at risk, they are not the only people who are losing out. We highlight the impact on women and girls regularly in our communications about this policy and about the need for greater investment in global family planning programs. That’s because, as mentioned above, the needs of women and girls are being targeted by policies like the Global Gag Rule, the elimination of aid to UNFPA, and the many similar domestic policies. They can’t be erased from the discussion.
We can’t, however, lose sight of the fact that sexual and reproductive health and rights belong to everyone regardless of gender identity. The trans men and non-binary people whose bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom are being threatened need to be part of the conversation too. 

Which agencies of the US government will be most useful in promoting population control – in the new administration?
Action Fund Panelist’s Answer: The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are the two most central to efforts to stabilize global population. But our Ambassador the United Nations and the Department of Health and Human Services also play important roles. We’re pleased with the President-Elect’s announcement of his plans to nominate Antony Blinken to be Secretary of State and Linda Thomas Greenfield to be the Ambassador to the United Nations.
On another note, we refrain from talking about population “control.” It’s about rights and empowerment and ensuring that everybody everywhere has access to the reproductive health care – including contraceptives and safe abortion – to have real choices about whether and when to have children. Investment in family planning programs around the world brings enormous returns in easing poverty, improving health, protecting the environment, reducing civil conflict and building a better future for all of us.

What is the best option to protect reproductive rights?
Action Fund Panelist’s Answer: Keep fighting, keep talking about it, keep voting for and supporting candidates who support reproductive rights.

What are population projections for 2050- the year targeted by most climate change control programs? And what are the global implications?
Hannah Evan’s Answer: By 2050, 2 billion people will be added to the planet, and the UN projects an additional one billion by 2100. There are many global implications for the continued growth of the human population, including food production as well as climate mitigation and adaptation. In terms of food production, the challenge will be to figure out how to produce more food without contributing further to the emissions or land use changes which cause climate change. Additionally, the continued growth of the human population will increase humanity’s ecological footprint. This means that we must change conventional patterns of energy use, transportation, agriculture, and land use to be more sustainable. This includes a global shift towards renewable energy sources, sustainable land use practices, and responsible consumption patterns. Underlying this shift is the need to stabilize human populations by ensuring family planning information and services are available to all who desire them.

Is there any recent research or research currently being conducted on the correlation/causation of the environment (e.g. species extinction, climate change, pandemics, etc.) and population?
Hannah Evan’s Answer: Yes, there is a good amount of research which correlates population growth with habitat destruction and species extinction – both of which drastically increase the risk of animal-to-human viral spillover.

Here are a few sources:
Emerging human infectious diseases and the links to global food production – Nature Sustainability

Destroyed Habitat Creates the Perfect Conditions for Coronavirus to Emerge – Scientific American

Drivers of Zoonotic Diseases – National Research Council (US) Committee on Achieving Sustainable Global Capacity for Surveillance and Response to Emerging Diseases of Zoonotic Origin

Given the threat of climate change and the species extinction crisis, should we be promoting negative population growth over population stabilization? If so, what should the fertility rate be?
Hannah Evan’s Answer: That’s a tough call because population growth is not the sole contributor to climate change or species extinction. It’s important to remember that the places with the highest population growth rates are also among the poorest, and therefore do not pose nearly as big of an environmental threat as more affluent regions, where per capita consumption and country-level emissions are much higher. Because resource use and consumption patterns vary so widely throughout the world, it’s really difficult to know how many people the planet can sustain. However, it’s no secret that our global economic structure exploits the environment in ways that threaten human prospects into the future. We need to be focused on shifting economic drivers and incentives so that efficiency equates more with environmental conservation. We also need to work to address the unmet need for contraceptives globally, as it has profound implications for climate adaptation and mitigation as well as social justice.

What are the major ways you plan to get the message about the connection between climate crisis and overpopulation out there?
Hannah Evan’s Answer: We are focused on producing comprehensive resources on the connections between population dynamics and climate change from various angles, including discussions on the links between population and climate change, human impacts on the environment, the implications that increasing access to family planning services have for climate mitigation and adaptation, and the ways in which population growth influences zoonotic disease transfer in humans.

More information on how were making the connection between population growth and climate change is available our website.

College/University Resources on Population and Climate Change

Population and Climate Change Course

Blog Posts on Climate Change

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