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Quotes on Population

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Quotes on Population

© Richard Grossman MD, 2008


“If you wait until the frogs and toads have croaked their last to take some action, you’ve missed the point.”

Kermit the Frog


For years I have been saving occasional quotes that I have run across. Each has some connection with population issues. Here are some of my favorites. I hope that they are meaningful for you, too.


Concerning the rights of an individual woman to control her fertility:


“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” Margaret Sanger


“The management of fertility is one of the most important functions of adulthood.” Germaine Greer


“We want far better reasons for having children than not knowing how to prevent them.” Dora Russell


“I was shocked when Tabea said she wanted no children. ‘I have seen my mother cradle too many dead babes,’ she said. ‘And I heard Oholibama scream for three days before she gave up her life for Iti. I am not willing to suffer like that.’” The Red Tent, Anita Diamant


Religious thinkers vary in their stand on contraception. Many have not come to grips with the fact that we are abusing our planet’s resources:


“If we’re going to use artificial means to support life, we’ll also have to use it to limit life.” Thomas Berry, Catholic theologian


“Let our lives be in accordance with our convictions of right, each striving to carry out our principles.” Lucretia Mott, Quaker abolitionist


“We are united with all life that is in nature. Man can no longer live his life for him alone.” Albert Schweitzer, Lutheran theologian


“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land. But it’s a greater sin for me to let children die. On the other hand, it goes against the Bible. We’re between a rock and a hard place.” José Martinez, Latin American worker


Major religions accept the rhythm method, which makes use of the infertile time in a woman’s cycle, but not all accept modern methods of family planning:


“It is now lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry.” H.L. Menken


Environmental awareness only started 50 years ago, but indigenous peoples have understood the limitations of our planet for eons:


“Some day the earth will weep, she will beg for her life, she will cry tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die.” John Hollow Horn, Oglala Lakota


“In a sense, the earth is mounting an immune response against the human species. It is beginning to react to the human parasite, the flooding infection of people, the dead spots of concrete all over the planet, the cancerous rot-outs in Europe, Japan, and the United States, thick with replicating primates, the colonies enlarging and spreading and threatening to shock the biosphere with mass extinctions.” The Hot Zone, Richard Preston


“Driving gas-guzzling cars should become as unfashionable as wearing fur.” Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell group


“Population growth is the primary source of environmental damage.” Jacques Cousteau


“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” Economist Kenneth Boulding


There are consequences of too much consumption and too many people. Some of these are inevitable and no amount of technology will prevent them:


“The chief cause of problems is solutions.” Eric Sevareid


“There is no trifling with nature; it is always true, grave and severe; it is always in the right, and the faults and errors fall to our share.” Goethe


“…democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears.” Isaac Asimov


There is hope:


“Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” Gandhi


“One must begin in one’s own life the private solutions that only in turn become public solutions.” Wendell Berry


“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Contraception Durango Herald Family Planning Medical Women's Issues

Wear the Implanon Contraceptive Implant

Did you know that a new contraceptive just became available in Durango? Implanon was approved for use in this country over two years ago, but its manufacturer has been very cautious in making it available.

Almost all women can safely use Implanon. It is effective for up to three years, and can be removed easily when the user wants. Best of all, once it is in place, it requires no action on the woman’s part to provide essentially perfect protection against pregnancy. Compliance is not a problem with this contraceptive method.

The availability of effective contraceptive methods is one of the three most important factors in helping to lower fertility rates in poor countries. (The other two factors are education of girls and lowering child mortality rates. Thanks to almost universal literacy and modern pediatric care in our country, we don’t have to worry about these two factors.) The sad fact is that half of pregnancies conceived in the United States are unplanned. Can a method that is reliable and simple to use help lower this statistic?

Implanon is similar to Norplant in some ways, but has significant differences. You may remember that Norplant consisted of six flexible plastic rods filled with a hormone. Although it was initially well received, a problem forced it off the market a number of years ago.
Many women were keen on Norplant, but doctors weren’t. It had to be inserted properly, so each of the rods was right under the skin of the woman’s arm. Norplant was difficult to remove if it were placed too deep. Bad insertion technique is what got Norplant into trouble. Too many were inserted by people who weren’t properly trained, so doctors attempted removal and ran into difficulties.

The similarities between Implanon and Norplant include the hormonal makeup, which has no estrogen. Both Norplant and Implanon just use a progestin, making them safe—especially for women with blood clotting disorders or migraine headaches. Both systems cause menstrual irregularity; most women using them either have irregular menstrual bleeding. Both offer very reliable contraception, with failure rates of just a fraction of a percent. Both have the hormone in one or more flexible plastic rods that are implanted under the skin of a woman’s arm. Implanon has only one rod, which makes insertion and removal much easier than Norplant’s six.

Learning from the Norplant fiasco, the manufacturer of Implanon has taken precautions to prevent it from getting misused. Implanon will only be available to doctors (and other medical providers) who have completed a comprehensive training program. I attended such a program in Durango in August with a dozen other providers. After practicing the technique on plastic models, we were all impressed with how easy Implanon is to insert and remove. In real people insertion or removal is done with a bit of local anesthesia and takes just a minute or two.

How do women like Implanon? According to the manufacturer, women like it very much. They advised us, however, to warn women before getting this contraceptive method that it will mess up their menstrual cycles. Almost all women will have some spotting or irregular bleeding with Implanon. After a period of adjustment, however, some women will stop bleeding entirely. Skipping periods is entirely safe. Fewer periods helps prevent anemia and PMS, and is the goal of some new birth control pill formulations.

An Implanon wearer should not be aware of its presence. The implant is placed under the skin of a woman’s upper arm. The rod is small and flexible, so an observer cannot see it hidden below her skin. A health care provider (or the woman herself) can find it easily by touching in the correct place.
Implanon works in two different ways. Most important is that the hormone stops ovulation. Without an egg, pregnancy cannot begin. An additional action is that the hormone makes cervical mucus impenetrable to sperm. These two actions make it very reliable, with only one failure per year per thousand women using it.

When a woman wishes to conceive, her fertility should return quickly after Implanon is taken out. Likewise, if a woman doesn’t like the method (for instance, if the irregular bleeding gets to her), the side effects are rapidly reversed as soon as it is removed.

Implanon might not be the contraceptive answer for all couples, but it provides another method that will be safe and effective for some. I am glad that we can now offer it in Durango!

© Richard Grossman MD, 2007

[The article above may be copied or published but must remain intact, with attribution to the author. I also request that the words “First published in the Durango Herald” accompany any publication. For more information, please write the author at:]