John Seager – Population Connection

By Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the  following our interview with John Seager of Population Connection about an important subject which is demography related to reproductive and abortion rights, something everybody should think of. ProMosaik is of the opinion that information is the basis for personal decision-making, and freedom to decide about our own future, and the future of our family, and community. Wrong information, and prejudices avoiding an open discussion about this issue are the root of the problem. 

Which population challenges do you address?
·      Population growth: We mainly look at global population growth and its effects on the environment, women’s and children’s health, and development/poverty reduction. The population is currently growing by 83 million people a year (births minus deaths), adding another billion people to our planet every dozen years. Nearly all of that growth occurs in the least developed countries—the ones already struggling to feed, house, educate, and employ their citizens. 
·         Birth dearth: We respond to misguided claims that low fertility and a stable or shrinking population are inherently bad for the economy. 
·         Teen pregnancy: We defend medically accurate sex education for American K-12 students and admonish abstinence-only programs—especially those that receive federal funding. 
·         Unintended pregnancy: We advocate for every woman and couple to have affordable access to the method of birth control appropriate for them. And when birth control fails, we advocate for safe and legal abortion access. 
Can you explain what is the global gag rule and the current debate about it?
The Global Gag Rule, when it is in effect, disqualifies some of the most effective and experienced family planning providers in the world from receiving U.S. assistance. Even though President Obama lifted the policy in his first week in office, the threat that a future president could reinstate it just as quickly is itself undermining family planning efforts in the developing world. 
Introduced in the Senate by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and in the House by Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Global Democracy Promotion Act, or GDPA, (S. 677/ H.R. 2740) would end this cruel uncertainty. The GDPA would bar a future administration from unilaterally imposing the Global Gag Rule. Passage of this legislation is critical to ensure the stability of family planning programs. All members of Congress must do whatever they can to support this important bill. 
The Global Gag Rule is a matter of life and death for women around the world. Lack of access to family planning information and services puts the lives and health of women at risk for no defensible reason. Millions of these women experience unintended pregnancies, and tens of thousands of them die from complications from pregnancies every year, including by unsafe abortion. 
It is vital to ensure that women have access to the tools and information they need to protect their health and exercise their rights. 
For more on the Gag Rule, please read our blog post:
Can you tell us more about your education program?
Since 1975, Population Education, a program of Population Connection, has developed age-appropriate curricula to complement students’ science and social science instruction about human population trends and their impacts on natural resources, environmental quality, and human well-being.
We provide hands-on training to 10,000-12,000 teachers and student teachers annually in North America. Tens of thousands of teachers are introducing important population concepts to their students using these outstanding resources and millions of students are benefitting from them.
With an emphasis on hands-on learning and balanced discussion of different viewpoints, our program has earned a reputation for educational excellence. All Population Education curriculum materials are classroom-tested, rigorously evaluated and frequently updated to be leaders in their content and approach. They are interdisciplinary, well-suited for a cooperative learning environment and classroom-ready. All of the materials are matched to current national and state academic standards and frameworks.
We operate under a “train the trainer” model: Our Volunteer Trainers Network consists of over 400 educators who lead workshops in their communities within the U.S. and abroad. Population Education facilitators lead workshops for pre-service students, teachers, and nonformal educators in their local area, and play an integral role in our Population Education program. Each year, our Trainers present two-thirds of our annual workshops and reach nearly 10,000 educators.
All Population Education lesson plans have been matched to the content standards that are required in K-12 classrooms. This includes the Common Core standards in math and English language arts, the Next Generation Science Standards, and all 50 states’ versions of these or their individual guidelines. Lessons are also matched to the Canadian provincial standards as well as the course curricula for AP Human Geography and AP Environmental Science.
Our World Population Video is used in classrooms and museums worldwide:
We are newly offering a professional development course online:
How important are civil society capacity building and media coverage in your activity?
We are the largest US grassroots population organization, so we engage civil society on a very personal level. Our network of supporters numbers approximately 500,000—people who either donate, volunteer, send messages to their members of Congress, use our PopEd curriculum materials, or all of the above. They live all over North America, and without them we would be a very different organization. 
We strive for media coverage whenever appropriate—letters to the editor, op-eds, blog posts, etc.—but our primary means of reaching potential supports is through direct contact. 
Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?
We are a part of several coalitions of organizations, and we are members of the Population Association of America (PAA) and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP). We can participate in the UN ECOSOC activities as an NGO with consultative status. 
Together, we draft sign-on letters, determine joint input in processes such as identifying the Sustainable Development Goals we’d like to see for reproductive health, and craft strategies for reaching the most influential members of Congress when important legislation is being considered or introduced.