In his June 10 letter, Peter Kostmayer of Zero Population Growth defended the population-restriction policies his organization endorses ("Protecting women and children isn't a radical concept"). There were two major distortions in that letter that require rebuttal.
First, Mr. Kostmayer asserts, "Children who are born less than two years apart have a 50 percent greater chance of dying before their fifth birthday." In making this assertion, he demonstrates faulty reasoning. In countries with endemic conditions of severe poverty and unchecked disease, couples know that some, if not most, of their children will die at an early age. As a result, they try to have more children to offset for the fact that they almost inevitably lose children.
When one looks at the larger picture, the spacing of children's births has almost nothing to do with why children are dying; rampant disease and severe malnutrition are the true culprits.
Second, Mr. Kostmayer completely misrepresents what the earlier U.N. conferences concluded about population trends in less-developed countries. …