How Does Congress Approach Population and Family Planning Issues?

Results of Qualitative Interviews with Legislative Directors

by Sally Patterson, David M. Adamson


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Congressional opinions on issues related to population are highly polarized. Approximately 90 percent of Congress consistently votes either uniformly to support or uniformly to oppose population-related legislation — so the remaining 10 percent is likely to determine the fate of such initiatives. To determine how this critical group makes its decisions, researchers interviewed a sample of legislative directors (chosen as proxies, to allow in-depth interviews). Most respondents felt that the United States should continue to play a leading role internationally, but several also stressed that their members of Congress favor increased emphasis on multilateral approaches. A majority felt that world population growth is a problem but is not urgent. Nearly unanimous support was expressed for U.S. support of voluntary family planning when it is understood to exclude abortion. Congress would benefit from research-based, factual information on a variety of international population issues.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three


  • Chapter Four

    Conclusions: Implications for Congressional Information Needs

  • Appendix

    Questions Asked in Qualitative Interviews with Legislative Directors

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