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The number of people living on the earth is growing more rapidly than ever before. Unless fertility rates (the number of children per woman of child-bearing age) are brought down soon, the world's population could eventually swell to three times today's 5.4 billion. Without significant technological breakthroughs, poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation could result. President Bush and Gov. Bill Clinton offer sharply different assessments of the threat posed by global population growth and the role t he United States should play in containing it. BUSH

Challenges the argument that rapid population growth is a constraint on international development efforts. Extended the Reagan administration policy of suspending all US contributions to the United Nations Population Fund because of its programs in China, where coercive population measures, including abortion, are alleged; and to the International Planned Parenthood Federation because it provides information on abortion as a family-planning method.

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Supports 1989 "Amsterdam Declaration" calling for increased availability of contraceptives and new spending for population-related activities, but has provided less than half the US share pledged. CLINTON

Says global population growth poses "the single greatest threat to ecosystems and the quality of life on earth." Favors restoring US funding for UN population programs and would allow US foreign aid to support international family-planning services, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Opposes financial support for programs of forced abortion, citing China.

Calls for a "consistent national policy of human rights that includes family planning rights." Supports active US involvement in planning for 1994 decennial global population conference in Cairo.

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