Speaker witnessed coerced population control and made fighting it his career
January 26, 2022
Steven Mosher used to consider himself a pro-choice atheist.
Then a visit to China in 1979 changed his mind.
As a social scientist, Mosher had been invited to China by its government. He had access to government documents and witnessed women being forced to have abortions, including some late in pregnancy, under the nation’s new “one-child policy.”
What he saw led him to rethink his convictions and eventually become a practicing, pro-life Catholic. He’s dedicated a career to speaking out about human rights violations, saving children from abortions and helping and protecting their mothers.
Mosher – president of the Population Research Institute and an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues – spoke recently at two Omaha events organized by Nebraskans Embracing Life.
The first talk, “The War on People,” took place Jan. 27 at the St. John Paul II Newman Center, and the second, on Jan. 28, was the keynote address at the Nebraskans Embracing Life’s 48th Annual Celebration of Life Dinner. Mosher’s talk was titled, “These Are Exciting Times to Be Pro-Life.”
Mosher shared his thoughts on these topics and other pro-life issues during a phone interview with the Catholic Voice.
Q: On Jan. 27th, you spoke at the St. John Paul II Newman Center in Omaha about “The War on People.” What is the “War on People”?
Well, for the last 70 years, basically since World War II, we’ve heard a tremendous amount of propaganda about overpopulation, the looming problem of too many people. And in response to that, beginning in the 1960s, the U.S. government set up the United Nations (U.N.) Population Fund, whose express purpose was to reduce the number of babies born around the world. It was first, last and always a population control organization.
It carried out for decades – and with a budget of a couple hundred million still today – programs to promote abortion, sterilization and contraception around the world, under the misguided notion that there are too many people on the planet.
And it turns out, as I’ve been writing now for a long time, that our long-term problem in the world is not going to be too many people. It’s not going to be a population explosion. That threat, if it ever existed, has come and gone.
The long-term problem is a population implosion. We see more than half the countries of the world with birth rates well below replacement (level). The most populous country in the world, China, which I know well, is now averaging, I think, 1.3 children per (child bearing age) woman. And those are the official numbers. The real numbers may be even lower.
So China’s population is shrinking. It’s aging. The country is literally dying. All of Europe is dying. Latin American birth rates are now below replacement, and the population of the continent won’t be expanding in the future.
Of course, in the United States, we’re only averaging 1.6 children right now. So our problem is not too many people. Our problem is not too many babies. Our problem is too few. It’s time to end the war on population.
The war on population is primarily carried out, of course, against women. They’re the primary targets of the abortion/sterilization campaigns that I’ve been tracking since being in China back in 1979. So that’s the war on people. It ought to be replaced with, I don’t know, a Marshall Plan to encourage young people to get married, to stay married, to have children. That’s what we need to have put in place in this country and in many, many countries around the world.
We do have in the United States – like in nearly all developed countries in the world and in many less developed countries – a birth shortage. Our birth rate is below replacement. So one of the policies we’d like to see adopted in Washington, D.C., is the policy of sheltering from taxes young couples who are willing to marry and have children.
I don’t think you can do that by means of a small tax credit of a thousand or two thousand dollars. I think that’s a good step and it certainly helped, but it hasn’t solved the problem of our low birth rates. I think to solve the problem of our low birth rates, we need to shelter young couples from taxes altogether, because they’re going to be taking those resources and investing them in the future of the United States in the most fundamental way, by providing future people. After all, children are the only future that a family has. They’re the only future that a nation has. And right now we have too few.
Q: The subject of your January 28th talk at the Nebraskans Embracing Life dinner was “These Are Exciting Times to Be Pro-Life.” Why is it an exciting time?
Well, I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement since the 1980s. And of course my involvement began in China, when I was an eyewitness to forced abortions and forced sterilizations in China under that country’s one-child policy. I came back to the United States thinking that things like forced abortion, forced sterilization couldn’t happen in my country because we were a democracy. That just shows you how little I understood what the real situation on the ground was in the United States.
So I began speaking at the state level and testifying before Congress at the national level, writing books and articles about China and encouraging higher birth rates and an end to abortion.
Since Roe versus Wade in the early 1970s, we’ve always been on the defensive. We were able to make some gains under (President Ronald) Reagan when we stopped funding the U.N. Population Fund, but we weren’t able to overturn Roe versus Wade at the Supreme Court.
We made some gains again under the Bush administrations and under (President Donald) Trump. But now, finally after – I’ve been in this movement for 40 years – we finally have a situation where we have a pro-life majority on the Supreme Court. We have the real prospect of seeing an end to the wrongly decided Roe versus Wade decision. … The right to privacy was invented out of whole cloth. It was nowhere to be found in the Constitution itself. So it’s exciting to think about an end to Roe versus Wade, which will not end, of course, the pro-life struggle. It will only transfer it back to the state level.
Much of our work at the Population Research Institute has also been overseas, where we’re trying to stop abortion from being legalized in Catholic countries in Latin America and Catholic countries in Africa, where we’ve had some successes and experienced some failures as well.
I don’t think there’s any more important battle than the battle for life. My inspiration to get into the pro-life movement, aside from the dismal experience of being in China and watching forced abortions, came from (the late Benedictine) Father Paul Marx. Father Marx was the founder of the Population Research Institute and also the founder of Human Life International.
He once went to the Vatican and met with Pope John Paul II, who told him that he was doing the most important work on earth. … It continues to be the most important work on earth because our job here on earth is to populate heaven. And you can only do that in one of two ways, you either have to bring souls into existence or you have to convert them in order to get them home to heaven. And hopefully, all faithful Catholics are encouraging both to happen.
Q: What do you expect to happen this year with the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, which effectively legalized abortion across the United States?
With the Supreme Court being a lifetime appointment, no one knows exactly how the justices are going to come down on any particular issue. I know we’ve had many disappointments over the years where justices that were appointed by pro-life presidents, whom we were told would be pro-life, have turned out to be either not pro-life or have waffled when it came down to addressing Roe versus Wade. The (Planned Parenthood v.) Casey decision in ‘92 was a very, very grave disappointment for many of us. We’ve had to wait another 30 years for another opportunity.
This time, however, I think that we’ve seen some indications that the Catholic majority on the Supreme Court is ready to move in the right direction. I’m hoping the vote to overturn Roe versus Wade will be 6 to 3. It may turn out to only be 5 to 4, but I do think we have a solid pro-life majority that will overturn Roe versus Wade.
Until it happens, of course, we can’t be certain of that. So we all need to be praying that the Supreme Court justices remember the basic tenets of their faith. Not all Catholics do, unfortunately.
Q: If Roe v. Wade is overturned, what do you expect to happen next, and how would the focus of the pro-life movement change?
That’s a very interesting question because it involves something that the movement has been doing for many years now. Thinking that a solution at the federal level was closed to us and knowing that the Supreme Court until the last couple of appointments was not going to overturn Roe versus Wade, we concentrated a lot of our effort at the state and local level.
I think we’ve seen huge gains in that regard. The Population Institute regularly publishes articles listing all of the hundreds of pro-life measures that have been passed at the state level. I’ve been in Nebraska in the past, and in Kansas, testifying before the state legislatures about banning things like late-term abortions and sex-selection abortions and race-selection abortions. And those laws have passed and been put in place.
So what’s going to have to happen after Roe versus Wade is overturned is that effort is going to have to continue and be strengthened because there’s no doubt that the pro-abortion movement will not give up the billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains that they make from the slaughter of unborn children. They will fight tooth and nail at the state level to keep abortion legal.
The battleground is going to shift to the state level, and I’m very heartened by the fact that we have the new Texas law in place that bans abortions after the fetal heartbeat can be detected. I think that’s certainly a movement in the right direction, which would stop between 80 and 90% of all abortions.
Q: You’ve worked since 1979 to battle coercive population control programs and help women and families. What are some of the victories you’ve seen? What are some of the challenges that remain?
My experience in China led me to come back to the United States with the idea of trying to get the United States out of the business of funding population control programs around the world. My initial efforts were focused on trying to defund the U.N. Population Fund because, to my surprise, I had learned that the U.N. Population Fund was directly funding China’s one-child policy. And of course, the United States was taking U.S. tax dollars and giving it to the U.N. Population Fund. We in the United States were indirectly funding China’s one-child policy.
Of course, I had seen forced abortion and late-term abortion and forced sterilization, forced contraception, all of these other human rights abuses. So I began setting about, in my initial efforts, defunding the U.N. Population Fund because of its involvement in China.
We were able in 1985 to get funding cut off for the first time and a law passed, which we call the Kemp-Kasten (Amendment).
I worked with (U.S. Rep.) Jack Kemp (of New York) and Senator Bob Kasten of Wisconsin to get a law passed which forbade any U.S funds from going to any organization or country which had a program of forced abortion, of forced sterilization. Well, the country was China and the organization was the U.N. Population Fund.
That law cost the U.N. Population Fund hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years. … The policy was continued under Bush I, of course, reversed by Clinton and then continued under Bush II.
We had to fight – I mean, we’ve had to fight at every turn – to keep the funding cut off. So, over the course of the last 30 years, we’ve cost the U.N. Population Fund, the population controllers, probably 700 million dollars, which is real money, and which I believe has saved a lot of lives.
We’ve been involved in exposing forced sterilization programs as well. For example, there was a forced sterilization program in Peru some years ago that had been launched with the support of the U.S. government. We were asked by the Catholic Church in Peru to come and investigate. We did. We found that the Peruvian government, under pressure from the U.S. government and with U.S. funding, was targeting the Indians who lived in the high Andes for sterilization.
They brought in experts from China, of all places, to run the sterilization campaign. Well, I mean, China has some pretty good experts in that field because that’s what they specialized in, forced sterilization and forced abortion. We were able to expose the program and put enough pressure on the government so that it came to an end. But by that time, 300,000 poor women had been sterilized under a quota system, under threat of having their children denied health care or under threat of being denied any government services, unless they consented to a sterilization.
So we’ve done that in a number of countries. I’ve written a book about this called “Population Control: Real Costs and Illusory Benefits.” We’ve documented human rights abuses and population control programs in 40 different countries. This has happened for decades, and it’s happened in countries all over the globe. And sadly it’s happened with the support, encouragement and funding of the U.S. government.
Q: China’s human rights abuses have again caught the world’s attention as the Winter Olympics are about to begin. What are some of these abuses, and what can people here in Nebraska do about them?
How much time do we have? I mean, think about any human rights abuse. It will be occurring in China and usually on a significant scale and at a significant level of severity. Right now, in the newspaper we read about the ongoing genocide of the Turkish speaking population of the China’s far west, they call them Uyghurs, but there are also Kazakhs there, and there are other Turkish speaking populations in the far west of China. What’s happening there is they’ve arrested most of the heads of families. A million and a half men are in concentration camps where they work seven days a week, 12 hours a day. The women and small children who are left at home are not left alone, because they have police or military police left with them. Men, of course, with these women who are now alone and vulnerable.
The children of elementary school age are often sent to boarding schools where they’re not taught in their native language, but they’re only taught in Chinese and only allowed to call their mother once a month for a half an hour.
The young people are sent to factories on the east coast of China, where they work in factory compounds, producing goods for export to other countries, including the U.S. They are not allowed out of the compounds, which are guarded, except for a couple hours under guard on Sunday afternoon.
So that’s what’s happening to the Uyghurs and the Kazakhs in China. But there are human rights abuses in Tibet, where they’re trying to eliminate Buddhism. They’re now trying to reinvent Buddhism to be Buddhism with Chinese communist characteristics. … The persecution of the underground (Catholic) Church is such that it has basically ceased to exist in China. Everyone must join the state run church, which dictates all aspects of religious activity in China, among Catholics and among Protestants. All religions are being persecuted in China. All minorities are being persecuted and targeted for elimination in China.
The Olympics, of course, is about to take place in China.
It should be postponed for a year and moved to another venue. There are multiple reasons for that. Human rights abuses are just one. The other reason is that there is a spreading epidemic in China. We don’t know exactly what is spreading in China because the government of China will not tell us. They claim that it’s a variant of COVID, but who knows. They have misrepresented what happened two years ago when the first COVID outbreak occurred. They’ve misrepresented back in 2003, 2004, when the first SARS outbreak occurred. They tried to hide it as long as they could. They tried to minimize its severity.
And they’re doing the same thing now. They’ve locked down tens of millions of people inside their homes. They’ve built encampments for tens of thousands of people, and they claim to have three or four cases of COVID. Now that doesn’t make any sense to me.
I could go on. This whole China policy question is a complicated one, but I think people in Nebraska need to be thinking about and praying for their fellow Catholics in China who are under severe persecution these days. Of course, it’s not just in China. Hong Kong has now come under the direct rule of the Chinese Communist Party, and the persecution is intensifying there in that once free city.
I have for a long time advocated boycotting goods made in China, because one can never be sure if the thing that you’re purchasing is made by slave or prison labor or not.
There’s a real problem with that in China today. Some of the goods coming over are made by children, some are made by prisoners, which is a violation of U.S. import law, and some are made by what can only be described as slave labor, where the people are confined in factories and forced to work 12 hours a day. So trying to avoid buying Chinese-made goods is one thing that people in Nebraska can do.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We have an administration that has refunded the U.N. Population Fund, which is still engaged in carrying out programs that involve coercion. I believe that couples have a natural right to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children. That is not an issue that U.S. taxpayers necessarily want to be involved in. If the people of Nigeria or Bolivia, or you name your country, want to have three children instead of two, that should be a matter for the couple themselves to decide.
The U.S. government should not be in the business of trying to strong arm governments around the world into enforcing birth limits on their own populations, which under the war on people we’ve done quite a bit of over the years, and unfortunately, we’re still doing today.