Bigotry and Population Control: The Report of the Rockefeller Commission on Population Growth and the American Future


Editor’s note. Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, there were a number of influential commission reports that pushed either to loosen protective abortion laws or essentially gut them altogether. One of those was the 1972 report issued in the 24-member Rockefeller Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. Headed by a veteran pro-abortionist, John Rockefeller III, its recommendation for abortion on demand ( the American Medical News reported) “provides prestigious ammunition for opponents of restrictive state abortion laws.” The most eloquent of the five dissenters was Grace Olivarez. As we end of our year-long “Roe at 40” series, where we are reposting some of the best and/or representative stories, these excerpts from her remarks (which ran in the April 14, 1998, issue of National Right to Life News) seem especially appropriate.

RockefellerCommreportTo brush aside a separate statement on the issue of abortion on the grounds that it is based on religious or denominational “hang-ups” is to equate abortion — a matter of life and death — with simpler matters of religion such as observance of the Sabbath, dietary restrictions, abstention from coffee and alcoholic beverages, or other similar religious observances. I prefer to believe that even nonreligious persons would be concerned with the issue of life and death, even as to the unborn.

My opposition to legalized abortion is based on several concerns that touch a variety of issues, not the least of which is the effect such a law would have on millions of innocent and ill-informed persons.

Rights of the Unborn Child

In relation to the rights of the unborn child, we seem to be confused as to the meaning of human life before and after birth. The fetus does not become “a life” at a specific magic moment in the process of development. Some biologists support the foregoing and I quote from one of them:

Everyone of the higher animals starts life as a single cell — the fertilized ovum…. The union of two such sex cells (male germ cell and female germ cell) to form a zygote constitutes the process of fertilization and initiates the life of a new individual.” [Emphasis mine.] [Bradley M. Patten, Foundations of Embryology (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), p. 2.]

Neither is it a “mass of cells,” as anyone who has witnessed an abortion can testify to. Having witnessed some abortions, I would ask those in favor of abortion to visit any hospital where abortions are performed and request permission to see an aborted fetus. It will not be intact unless the abortion was performed by the saline method.

“Wanted” and “Unwanted” Fertility

To talk about the “wanted” and the “unwanted” child smacks too much of bigotry and prejudice. Many of us have experienced the sting of being “unwanted” by certain segments of our society. Blacks were “wanted” when they could be kept in slavery. … Every individual has his/her rights, not the least of which is the right to life, whether born or unborn. Those with power in our society cannot be allowed to “want” and “unwant” people at will.

The Poor in Our Society

I am not impressed nor persuaded by those who express concern for the low-income woman who may find herself carrying an unplanned pregnancy and for the future of the unplanned child who may be deprived of the benefits of a full life as a result of the parents’ poverty….

Our Future as a Democratic Society

As long as we continue to view abortion as a solution, we will continue to avoid facing the real issue — that abortion treats the symptom and neglects the disease. When you consider that more than half of all abortions performed in New York were performed on women under 24 years of age (and not on “those unfortunate women who could not face the prospect of still another child”), you begin to get a glimpse of one aspect of the “disease.”.