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Smear: John Holdren Favors "Forced Abortions, Mass Sterilization"

September 17, 2009 9:59 am ET

John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy has been accused of supporting "forced abortions" and "mass sterilization" in order to control the population.  The right-wing smear machine spreading these falsehoods relied on out-of-context descriptions, not endorsements, of existing views from a 30 year-old text book.

Smear: John Holdren Favors "Forced Abortions, Mass Sterilization"


Forced abortions. Mass sterilization. A "Planetary Regime" with the power of life and death over American citizens.

The tyrannical fantasies of a madman? Or merely the opinions of the person now in control of science policy in the United States? Or both?

These ideas (among many other equally horrifying recommendations) were put forth by John Holdren, whom Barack Obama has recently appointed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology -- informally known as the United States' Science Czar.

[Zombietime, John Holdren, Obama's Science Czar, says: Forced abortions and mass sterilization needed to save the planet, accessed 9/16/09]


Glenn Beck
Fox News


PolitiFact Gave Rumor A "Pants On Fire!" Rating.  According to, "in seeking to score points for a political argument, Beck seriously mischaracterizes Holdren's positions. Holdren didn't advocate those ideas then. And, when asked at a Senate confirmation hearing, Holdren said he did not support them now. We think it's irresponsible to pluck a few lines from a 1,000-page, 30-year-old textbook, and then present them out of context to dismiss Holdren's long and distinguished career. And we rate Beck's claim Pants on Fire!" [, 7/22/09]

The Rumor Is Based On A Three-Decade Old, Three-Author College Textbook.  As reported by the Washington Times, Dr. Holdren's staff issued a statement saying, "This material is from a three-decade-old, three-author college textbook. Dr. Holdren addressed this issue during his confirmation when he said he does not believe that determining optimal population is a proper role of government. Dr. Holdren is not and never has been an advocate for policies of forced sterilization." [Washington Times, 7/15/09]

The Cherry-Picked Textbook Passages Quoted Are Mere Descriptions, Not Endorsements, Of Existing Views.  As reported by the Catholic News Service, who spoke with Holdren's co-authors: "The Ehrlichs said they had been 'shocked' at what they called the 'serious misrepresentation' of their and Holdren's views. 'We were not then,  never have been, and are not now 'advocates' of the Draconian measures for population limitation described -- but not recommended -- in the book's 60-plus small-type pages cataloging the full spectrum of population policies that, at the time, had either been tried in some country or analyzed by some commentator.' Describing "Ecoscience" as a 'textbook,' they said its descriptions can be 'misrepresented as endorsement.'" [Catholic News Service, 7/15/09]

Textbook's Co-Authors Said Rumors Based On An "Encyclopedic Textbook Where Description Can Be Misrepresented As Endorsement." As reported by the Washington Times: "The White House also passed along a statement from the Ehrlichs that said, in part, 'anybody who actually wants to know what we and/or Professor Holdren believe and recommend about these matters would presumably read some of the dozens of publications that we and he separately have produced in more recent times, rather than going back a third of a century to find some formulations in an encyclopedic textbook where description can be misrepresented as endorsement.'" [Washington Times, 7/15/09]

Dr. Holdren Doesn't Believe "Determining Optimal Population" Is The Role Of Government.  During his confirmation hearing, Dr. Holdren was asked by Sen. David Vitter, "Do you think determining optimal population is a proper role of government?" Dr. Holdren responded: "No, Senator, I do not. And I did not certainly intend that to be the implication of that sentence. The sentence means only what it says, which is that people who've thought about these matters come out in different places. I think the proper role of government is to develop and deploy the policies with respect to economy, environment, security, that will ensure the well-being of the citizens we have." [Holdren Confirmation Hearing via Federal News Service, 2/12/09]


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