Response to letters re: “Reassessing HIV Prevention"

This article is a response to letters sent in to Science regarding the article “Reassessing HIV Prevention” by Potts M, Halperin DT, Kirby D, Swidler A, Marseille E, Klausner JD, Hearst N, Wamai RG, Kahn JG, Walsh J.  2008 May 9;320(5877):749-50. 2008;

The authors argue, “Population-level disease control efforts must be evidence-based, culturally acceptable, and feasible (as male circumcision and partner reduction are).”

Atlas of Contraception

This revised and updated Atlas provides a comprehensive guide to modern contraceptive practice. The book is heavily illustrated with color photographs and line drawings that guide the reader through the various options available and provide a valuable educational resource. The supporting text offers a concise description of family planning in today’s world.

Family planning is needed, simple and inexpensive. This book provides an invaluable resource for the wide range of physicians and allied health workers who advise and deliver contraceptive care.

Review of Connolly’s Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population

Matthew Connelly’s Fatal Misconception is a paradox. It provides a dangerously misleading description of the history of international family planning programs in the twentieth century. Connelly has been industrious in his research, however, and in the process he has illuminated, albeit unintentionally, one of the core intellectual issues in international family planning that over time scarred governmental efforts to slow population growth.

Published in Population Development Review, September 2008, 262-268

The origins and future of patriarchy: the biological background of gender politics

Evolutionary psychology posits that certain behaviours are universal because they helped the genes of a particular species to survive across the generations.  In the case of human beings, such behavioral predispositions evolved to adapt us to the Stone Age rather the modern world.  Patriarchy, we suggest, has deep roots in human evolution.

Published in Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, July 2008

Letter: Effect of Contraceptive Access on Birth Rate

Letter in response to the Perspective “REPRODUCING IN CITIES” by Mace published in Science February 2008 in Science

In her Perspective “Reproducing in cities” (8 February, p. 764), R. Mace assumes that differences in birth rates between rural and urban areas largely represent the wishes of parents. Human beings in all societies have sexual intercourse hundreds or even thousands of times more often than is needed to conceive the number of children they want. Once individuals have access to the means and information to separate sex from childbearing, family size often falls rapidly (1). For rural women there are an astonishing number of barriers to access to modern contraception (2), while urban women are often better placed to overcome these barriers.

We suggest that birth rates fall in cities primarily because contraception and safe abortion are easier to obtain than in the countryside. For example, in rural Ethiopia only doctors and nurses are permitted to give contraceptive injections, so this popular method is denied to rural women. The total fertility rate (TFR) in Ethiopia as a whole is 5.4, while in Addis Ababa it is now thought to be below 2.0 children. Addis is unusual among African capitals in that safe abortion was available for several years before the recent liberalization of the abortion law. Tens of thousands of operations were performed annually and linked to effective post-abortion contraceptive advice.

We posit that fertility will fall in rural Ethiopia as contraception and safe abortion become more easily available. In Bangladesh, where many women now have access to modern contraception and reasonably safe abortion, two large predominantly rural areas (Khulna and Rajhashi) now have replacement-level fertility (3).

Published in Science, May 16 2008, 874