President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey has called on Turkish citizens in Europe to have five children each. The goal? To create a new nationalist population boom as a means of attacking the EU from within. There is nothing new about strongmen leaders promoting larger families in order to expand state power and to subjugate women. What is interesting, though, is the absence of a backlash in response to Erdogan from human rights, child welfare, and environmental organizations, despite the detrimental impact a nationalist population boom holds for each of their missions.
Why? Under our archaic family planning systems, it would be acceptable for Turkish nationalists to have five children as a means of expanding group influence as long as the parents chose to do so, irrespective of the conditions in which the children would be born, the impact on the democracies in which they would be born, and the destruction massive families inflict on our already polluted environment. Erdogan’s call, and the lack of real outcry and backlash, shows the need to rethink family planning models. It’s wrong to have children who won’t get a fair start in life; governments and communities are obligated to help parents create that start. It’s wrong to have children without regard for how they will build or degrade the democratic communities in which we all deserve to live. It’s wrong to have so many children, or children who consume so much, so as to continue to destroy rather than restore the world’s clean, healthy, and natural environment.
Erdogan is wrong, but he is subtly buoyed up by a backward western family planning model and paradigm. It’s time for a change.