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Why a new president may slow population growth

Democrat in the White House is likely to reverse Bush policies on global birth-control funds.

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If a Democratic president enters the White House about a year from now, some experts in family planning anticipate a boon for mankind: a greater effort by the United States government to restrain world population growth.

As it is, when a baby born today enters kindergarten, the number of people in the world will have grown by more than 300 million. That's on top of the 6.7 billion individuals alive today. That four-year population-growth projection is comparable to the 303 million people now living in the US – the third most populous nation in the world after China and India.

The Bush administration has handed over population policies "to the far right," charges J. Joseph Speidel, a population expert at the Bixby Center for Reproductive Health Research & Policy, in San Francisco. "I hope we will have a more science-based population policy in the future rather than an ideology-based policy."

Should Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) of New York or another Democratic candidate become president, Mr. Speidel and other enthusiasts for more family planning assistance anticipate, among other things, a quick repudiation of the Mexico City Policy, or as its opponents call it, the "global gag rule." This policy makes organizations ineligible for US family planning money if they use non-US funds to provide legal abortions, counsel or refer for abortions, or lobby for the legalization of abortion in their own countries.

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