17

According to Wikipedia, Frederick Jaffe, former vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and founder of what is now the Guttmacher Institute, wrote a memorandum discussing fertility reduction methods including:

  • fertility reduction agents in water
  • encourage women to work
  • provide few child caring facilities
  • encourage increased homosexuality
  • compulsory abortions/sterilisation
  • postpone or avoid marriage
  • alter image of ideal family size
  • discouragement of private home ownership
  • various financial obstacles for parents
  • abortion and sterilisation on demand
  • improve contraceptive technology
  • make contraception truly available
  • etc.

This is the table from the memo (click and zoom to see):

Table copied from the memo

Did Frederick Jaffe really write this memo, as Wikipedia claims?


Some context as requested. On page 492 Jaffe states:

... the table takes a number of measures which have been discussed in the literature as possible elements in a population policy to reduce fertility ...

He also states

... neither I nor the Planned Parenthood Federation of America advocates any of the specific proposals embodied in the table which go beyond voluntary actions by individual couples ...

1
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 5, 2022 at 22:32

3 Answers 3

36

I understand the claim you want to be tested is the claim by the Wikipedia page of Frederick S. Jaffe that there existed a memo he wrote that contained the table provided.

The Wikipedia page provides two sources for the memo:

The original memo is available online [12] or in the record [13] of a 1973 Senate hearing.

The second reference is to a freely-downloadable copy of the hearing: Family Planning Services and Population Research Amendments of 1973, Hearings Before the Special Subcommittee on Human Resources..., 93-1, on S. 1708..., S. 1632 ..., May 8, 9, 10, and 23, 1973

The memo appears starting page 493, with the controversial table appearing on page 501.

5
  • 1
    Thank you for the answer. How do we know that the link content is indeed from the US Congress? I mean, couldn't someone post a pdf in google books and claim whatever he wants?
    – Soft wind
    Dec 4, 2022 at 6:32
  • 37
    The first reference in Wikipedia is to Google Drive. I didn't use that because anyone can upload anything to Google Drive, and it is presented without context. Google Books is a little bit more restricted. If you don't trust it, a copy is available from the Stanford University Library so you can inspect a physical copy and convince yourself it is a genuine artifact from 1973. I don't feel the need, because I find the level of conspiracy required is implausible compared to the more mundane explanation that a public policy wonk once wrote a memo.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 4, 2022 at 9:43
  • 11
    @Softwind: The Government Printing Office at least confirms that the record exists, and the metadata all appears consistent. GPO doesn't have an official digitized version for comparison, though. There's apparently a physical copy at my local university library that I could get, but then again I could be part of the conspiracy, so I guess you can't take my word for it. Dec 4, 2022 at 21:33
  • 10
    But if you want to see a copy with your own eyes, any Federal Depository Library should have it or be able to get it (possibly on microfilm). Dec 4, 2022 at 21:34
  • 1
    Oddthinking, the senate record is a good source, but a more original source may be the Rockerfeller Archive Center. dimes.rockarch.org/collections/… The senate hearing was 4 years after the memo. Rockerfeller Archive has the records of the Population Council, including correspondence between Berelson and Jaffe.
    – DavePhD
    Feb 25, 2023 at 14:59
4

While the other answers are good, the Senate record is from 1973, four years after the memo was written.

The first publication of the table alone was in "U.S. Population Growth and Family Planning: A Review of the Literature" Family Planning Perspectives, volume 2, number 4, pages i-xvi (October 1970) with the source given as

Frederick S Jaffe, "Activities Relevant to the Study of Population Policy for the U.S.," Memorandum to Bernard Berelson, March 11, 1969

However, the table was slightly edited from the original, for example changing "Stock certificate permits for children" to "Stock certificate-type permits for children".

Berelson worked for the Rockerfeller-founded Population Council and the Rockerfeller Center Archive contains files of Population Council, including correspondence between Berelson and Jaffe. So if someone is looking for a more-primary source than the 1973 senate record, Rockerfeller Center Archive is the appropriate source.

4

Yes, Jaffe's Memo is real.

Guttmacher Institute (former Planned Parenthood branch) republished it, along with other documents by Frederick Jaffe on its official website, in the FAQ section:

Who was Frederick Jaffe?

Frederick S. Jaffe was the Guttmacher Institute’s first president

[...] Some anti-choice activists have attempted to falsely link Mr. Jaffe to coercive population control measures by taking out of context parts of a memo he wrote in 1969. However, Mr. Jaffe’s memo merely summarized various population control measures others had proposed at the time; he did not endorse or otherwise condone coercive measures (the full memo is available here).

He was described as:

most outstanding intellectual leader in [..] fertility

Their Google Docs contain the full memo, titled:

PROPOSED MEASURES TO REDUCE FERTILITY BY UNIVERSALITY OR SELECTIVITY OF IMPACT IN THE U.S.

He also sent a letter to Bernard Berelson, with proposition 1 stating:

[...] continued U.S. population growth will inevitably cause deterioration in the quality of life of this and future generations [...]

Which is contradicted by the steep drop in fertility at the time, that had started 12 years ago. During that period, fertility rates fell from 3.6 to 1.7. When Jaffe published his memo, fertility was at 2.4 (zero-growth levels are 2.1):

enter image description here

Deleting the documents

After July 2022, they deleted the FAQ discussing Jaffe's Memo, but you can find the page in the Wayback Machine (among many internet archiving services). This is why you get a 404 when visiting the link directly: https://www.guttmacher.org/guttmacher-institute-faq

Timeline:

  • 14 Jan 2017: first backup of the Jaffe Memo
  • 1 Jul 2022: last backup
  • 8 Sep 2022: "The requested page could not be found." [Guttmacher Institute deleted it from their page]

Over 80 snapshots of the website. Over 4.5 years until they deleted it. Ruling out the possibility of a hacked website.

Is Guttmacher Institute a credible organization?

Yes. US government websites link to it several times. Search in Google (or other search engines):

site:gov link:guttmacher.org

This will give you all websites that end in .gov and contain a link that ends in guttmacher.org (11000 results).

Then you can inspect each link and verify it's not a random website with the purpose of spreading disinformation.

Additionally, credible newspapers and organizations link to it as well.

Finally, their initial name was "Center for Family Planning Program Development: The Technical Assistance Division of Planned Parenthood - World Population" (emphasis mine)


Snapshot of their Google Drive:

Jaffe memo as pdf, with several pages as jpg thumbnails (not all document thumbnails are visible)

10
  • 4
    "Reducing fertility" does not mean "decreasing population"; if you reduce the fertility rate from 3.0 children per woman to 2.9 children per woman, you still have a growing population, it's just growing more slowly. Nor does the phrase "population control" in any way imply "both increasing or decreasing", any more than "noise control" would imply considering measures to increase noise. That whole bullet point seems to be you picking holes in line with your pre-conceptions.
    – IMSoP
    Mar 7, 2023 at 12:32
  • 1
    @IMSoP Enlightening discussion, I must say. I just saw there was a very steep drop in fertility from 1958 to 1970 (when one of the docs was published), up until 1978. The rate plummeted. In 1970 the rate was 2.3 not far from replacement level of 2.1.
    – Sylvia
    Mar 7, 2023 at 18:22
  • 1
    @IMSoP the brief increase does not fit the overall trend; it might be caused by changes in how data was collected or fertility calculated, but I might be wrong. Rates falling for 12 years prior to the memo somewhat contradict the propositions on which the memo was based. Namely proposition 1 in the letter to Bernard Berelson: "[...] continued U.S. population growth will inevitably cause deterioration in the quality of life of this and future generations". But I do believe the answer is complete, no new additions are needed. Unless you find more errors, which I'll gladly fix. Thank you for help
    – Sylvia
    Mar 7, 2023 at 20:14
  • 2
    (Previous reply deleted.) If the point of the "context" is to make some comment about the memo, then a) make that explicit in your answer, don't make vague insinuations that have to be clarified in comments; and b) remember that this is not a political forum, it's a site that very strongly encourages sticking to facts and evidence, not opinions.
    – IMSoP
    Mar 7, 2023 at 21:37
  • 1
    Context does matter and is added to other questions, not sure why you'd like facts and evidence removed here. Also, you are emphasizing details like the tiny change in fertility drop. I m not saying you are downplaying it, but it is rather odd. I want to know the context. A mere "yes it's real" to my question is not what I need.
    – Soft wind
    May 7, 2023 at 8:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .