Is population control intrinsically evil?


Note: **This thread is not about the question of whether the earth is *actually *“overpopulated” by humans. **For the purposes of this thread, treat overpopulation or otherwise a population in the midst of a “survival crisis” as a hypothetical.

My tentative view, which I think is reasonable, is that it is not *intrinsically *evil. However, I very much dislike the idea because I regard any need for population control as a symptom of a lack of trust in Divine Providence (practical atheism + secular humanism) coupled with misuse of natural resources and poor lifestyle choices.

Anyways, first order of business is a working definition of population control. I will give my own definition (feel free to refine it as you deem appropriate).

Def: Population Control: A social initiative operating on macro-scale that aims at steering the population toward growth or diminution.

I provide a broad definition so that the definition does not of itself favor contraception or any kind of social Darwinism. It is neutral as to methods employed and particular reasons or motives.

The main idea here is that population control is a top-down or public objective that solicits the the cooperation of private individuals.

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time…

If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained. (*Humanae Vitae *10,16)

I figured that if population control is permissible on a micro-scale (i.e. in the family) then on account of the same principle – prudent discernment for the sake of responsible parenthood – it is permissible on a macro-scale, which is to say, for civil authorities directing society (prudent discernment for the sake of the responsible care of a community). Provided that the procreative freedom of families is not in any way limited or compromised, since this freedom is proper to marriage.

What do you think?


Depends on what you mean by that.

If by population control is meant coercive governmental means, such as the one-child law in China, then yes, that would be wrong because a) it unnecessarily constrains human freedom and b) arrogates to the civil state a prerogative that belongs to God alone. AIUI.

If population control can be achieved by non-coercive means, it may or may not be wrong, but I cannot imagine how that could be done.

Society is not the same as a family. When a couple chooses to use NFP, they are exerting control over themselves for the good of the family. Population control is exerting control over **others **for the benefit of a third party (or the society as a whole).



From the Catechism:

2372 The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children.162 In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law


Of course society is not the same as family, the same way a building is not the same as a brick. Whatever attacks the family, damages society. So, I cannot see any benefit for society by population control.

As for the question at hand, population control must be intrinsically evil. Even the denomination: population Control is in itself evil.
At the grand scale it is performed, for who knows what end, so some other guy can enjoy two glasses of whisky, instead of one, it is intrinsically evil. For it places economic wealth and comfort, above the actual existence of other people.
Let me give some examples:
Better we are 3 in a house with 5 rooms, than 5 in a house with 3 rooms mentality.
I feel good and don’t really want the consequences and the goal of intimate relationship mentality.
It is abhorrent and diabolical that population control actually entered into mainstream ‘civilization’.


I have a kind of revulsion toward population control for reasons explained in the OP, and because I am quite certain it is rooted in the contraceptive mentality. HOWEVER, let us not commit the genetic fallacy.

Also, how do we make sense of the paragraph in the Catechism quoted above if population control is intrinsically evil? The Catechism seems to suggests that in and of itself, it is permissible, but that population control can become evil in this or that particular manner in which it is aimed or executed. Hence the qualification:

2372 The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. **In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population … In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law **


I suggest reading Populorum Progressio.


Intervention and orientation are not the same as control.

The CCC does not approve population control.



The difficulty in PC is not by whom it is promoted, nor that it it might be done with the wrong aims by the civil state, although both are important.

The difficulty IIUC is that the motivation for it is almost always to reduce the number of human beings so as to minimize the “burden on nature.” This is an unacceptable devaluation of human life.



Hello Ana V.

In the Beginning God said be fertile and multiply; fill the earth… He said it, so I do it. Besides, that it is fun. But I was a married woman and babies are really cute.

Population control in my mind is always evil. Anyone who seeks to justify it is defying God’s Command to be fertile and multiply. Whether or not it falls into the category of intrinsic evils that we tend to discuss around here at CAF during election years, I really don’t know. I imagine it is. I don’t think you’ll ever hear a candidate running on a platform that calls for population control, but the secondary model they’ve given through the years in their own lives is two children per couple. Ever notice how the persons occupying the White House for a while have only had two children? Think it odd? They’ve replaced themselves and have volunteered for zero-population growth. If you only have children to replace yourself and your spouse, then you aren’t technically increasing the surface population. But if you asked them if they believed in the theory of zero-population growth by only having two children, they’d probably look at you like you had two heads. It has been the model of the Model family presented to us by the First Family though. And there are those who do look to them for this reason: a model family to emulate. That is basic to human nature. I think it is telling though.

To be honest, that is why people contracept to begin with - to limit the number of children they have, so by their actions they are in fact supporting a program of population control. Are they themselves intrinsically evil persons? They’d tell you “No!” and would be very hurt if you said so. In fact, they give to charity and go to Church and never cheat on their taxes and do all sorts of wonderful things. They just don’t want too many children around and hubby’s vasectomy got mummy off the Pill those nasty things that made her so grumpy and mean and could’ve given her breast cancer. Wasn’t that nice of daddy to submit to the knife for her? But don’t tell them they are in fact living out the dictates of a program of population control. They volunteered for it in exchange for a sex life that has no limits. It isn’t like our government is forcing the Pill on working class women yet is it? And no one in this country has been forcibly sterilized have they? Oh dear. I’ve said too much again. Pardon me.



Glenda, though in the past we haven’t seen eye to eye on some, less important, matters :eek:, I have to agree with you on this one. Well said! :yeah_me:


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