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He felt extreme measures would be required to combat an extreme problem.
Whether or not you think this provides him a valid "excuse" for having descended into a totalitarian fantasy is up to you: personally, I don't think it's a valid excuse at all, since the crisis he was in a panic over was mostly in his imagination.
On the left in each case is a scanned image taken directly from the pages of the book itself; on the right is an exact transcription of each passage, with noteworthy sections highlighted. Following these short quotes, I take a "step back" and provide the full extended passages from which each of the shorter quotes were excerpted, to provide the full context. Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society. What Holdren's really saying here is, "I have determined that there's nothing unconstitutional about laws which would force women to abort their babies." And as we will see later, although Holdren bemoans the fact that most people think there's no need for such laws, he and his co-authors believe that the population crisis is so severe that the time has indeed come for "compulsory population-control laws." In fact, they spend the entire book arguing that "the population crisis" has already become "sufficiently severe to endanger the society." One way to carry out this disapproval might be to insist that all illegitimate babies be put up for adoption—especially those born to minors, who generally are not capable of caring properly for a child alone.
And at the bottom of this report, I provide untouched scans (and photos) of the full pages from which all of these passages were taken, to quash any doubts anyone might have that these are absolutely real, and to forestall any claims that the quotes were taken "out of context." Ready? As noted in the Front Page article cited above, Holdren "hides behind the passive voice" in this passage, by saying "it has been concluded." Really? If a single mother really wished to keep her baby, she might be obliged to go through adoption proceedings and demonstrate her ability to support and care for it.
My objection to forced abortion is not so much to protect the embryo, but rather to protect the mother from undergoing a medical procedure against her will.
And not just any medical procedure, but one which she herself (regardless of my views) may find particularly immoral or traumatic.
Don't be fooled by the innocuous and "level-headed" tone he takes: the proposals are nightmarish, however euphemistically they are expressed.
Holdren seems to have no grasp of the emotional bond between mother and child, and the soul-crushing trauma many women have felt throughout history when their babies were taken away from them involuntarily.
The scans and photos are provided to supply conclusive evidence that the words attributed to Holdren are unaltered and accurately transcribed.
[UPDATE: Make sure to read the new statements issued by the White House and by John Holdren's office in response to the controversy raised by this essay -- you can see them below following the Ecoscience excerpts, or you can jump directly to the statements by clicking here.] This report was originally inspired by this article in Front Page magazine, which covers some of the same information given here.
But that article, although it contained many shocking quotes from John Holdren, failed to make much of an impact on public opinion. Because, as I discovered when discussing the article with various friends, there was no proof that the quotes were accurate -- so most folks (even those opposed to Obama's policies) doubted their veracity, because the statements seemed too inflammatory to be true.
In the modern era, it seems, journalists have lost all credibility, and so are presumed to be lying or exaggerating unless solid evidence is offered to back up the claims. Of course, Holdren wrote these things in the framework of a book he co-authored about what he imagined at the time (late 1970s) was an apocalyptic crisis facing mankind: overpopulation.
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