License for Parenting?

Matthew Habiger OSB, PhD
Permission Granted

Parental Licensing, or requiring a couple to receive a license for having a baby, is an example of population control. A December 1995 article by David Lykken, from the University of Minnesota, appearing in Law and Politics, asserted: "It's not just babies having babies anymore — it's babies having sociopathic monsters who are turning us into a Clockwork Orange society."

Lykken does not find the root of the problem of single parent families in a promiscuous society which approves of the distribution of contraceptives to teenagers, sex ed classes and Planned Parenthood clinics. He finds it in the heretofore unchallenged right of any adult to have a baby. If we can control which couples become parents, he argues, then we can protect children from being brought into a dysfunctional life, and protect society from having to take care of them. Apparently, children do not have a right to be born, but, once conceived, only a right not to be born poor, unwanted or disadvantaged.

Requirements for licensure would include being a mature married couple who are economically independent with no criminal records or debilitating mental illnesses, and passing a basic course in parenting at a local community college. The state would determine the number of children a couple could have.

Becoming pregnant without a license would be a crime, with abortion being the solution for most cases. If an unlicensed pregnancy were carried to term, the baby would be at once removed from the custody of the biological parents before bonding would occur and placed in foster care pending adoption. Men or women (or boys and girls) who are convicted a second time would be forced to be sterilized. Norplant is already used on Black women in cities like Baltimore for this purpose. A physician, upon learning of an unlicensed pregnancy, must report that fact to the child protection agency of the woman's county of residence within one week of discovery.

We should not think that these ideas are farfetched. A bill already appeared in Minnesota in 1996 demanding a parental license. David Lykken was a consultant on the bill.

Proposals Made by Frederic Jaffe

Planned Parenthood has been proposing similar ideas for many years. In 1961 Frederick S. Jaffe, then vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), sent a memorandum to Bernard Barelson, president of the Population Council, in which he proposed various measures to reduce U.S. fertility.

Social constraints would include postponing or avoiding marriage, altering the image of the ideal family size, compulsory sex education and family limitation, encouraging increased homosexuality, encouraging women to work and putting fertility control agents in the water supply.

Economic deterrents would include a marriage tax and child tax, taxing the married more than single people, removing parental tax exemption, additional taxes on parents with more than one or two children in school, reducing paid maternity leave, reducing children's or family allowances, giving bonuses for delayed marriage, eliminating welfare payments after the first two children, requiring women to work and providing few child care facilities.

Social controls would include compulsory abortion for out–of–wedlock pregnancies, compulsory sterilization after the second child, confining childbearing to only a limited number of adults, licensing for parenting, discouraging private home ownership and no longer awarding public housing based on family size.

Other measures would include payments to encourage sterilization, contraception and abortion, allowing abortion and sterilization on demand, allowing contraceptives to be distributed non–medically, improving contraceptive technology, making contraceptives accessible to all and making family planning a core element of maternal health care.

There are many problems with this kind of thinking. It reduces persons to things, like planning a herd of cattle. But there is a universe of difference between human persons and animals. A person is made in the image of God. A person has inestimable worth, and, possessing an immortal soul, will exist forever. To consider a physically or mentally handicapped person to be of inferior stock is to reduce him or her to the level of an object.

Parental licensing attempts to take all risks out of child–bearing by eliminating "mistakes." But God does not make mistakes. Throughout history, He has allowed for the sick, handicapped, incompetent. Rather than diminishing us, our burdened brothers and sisters bestow many gifts upon us. They humanize us by making us more considerate and other–centered. They remind us of the importance of basic human bonds. They bring great joy to families.

Parental licensing attempts to eliminate indeterminacy by placing more control in the hands of the state than the parents. But only God can control the full richness of a human person, who is unrepeatable and shall exist forever.

Children must not be sacrificed to the ideology, or idolatry, of population control. Children are human beings, and we cannot manipulate them. Parents only cooperate with God, and even then only in a very limited sense. Children are the greatest gift God can give to parents. Population controllers would reduce them to hungry mouths on two legs.

Parental licensing is a direct violation of the God–given rights of parents. If adults abuse their parental rights, the solution is not to be found in licensing. The fully human and effective corrective measures are such things as teaching chastity to young people and young couples, training in self–control and self–mastery, explaining the mystery of love as self–giving, emphasizing commitment in marriage, and valuing children as gifts from God, equal in every sense in the eyes of God.

What Can Be Done to Thwart this Movement?

We can expose it; show where it goes wrong; we can debunk population myths by demonstrating how we can feed more people, clothe them, house them, medicate, educate and provide fuel for them. The demographic winter now descending upon Japan and Europe shows the bankruptcy of population mythology.

We can defund family planning and depopulationists like the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), the International Planned Parenthood Federation and U.S. Agency for International Development. When their money is reduced, their efforts are thwarted.

We can show the clear connection between sex ed and the promotion of contraception with the increase of teenage pregnancies, single parent families, higher divorce rates and deteriorating family life.

Population controllers will never rest. They believe that contraception, sterilization and abortion are the solution to most of the world's problems. As long as they can secure funds for their programs from the government, foundations, and donors, they will continue with their agenda. They have only one quality we can imitate: we must match their dedication and zeal.