During the week of August 6-13,1984, the second world conference in 10 years to address the problem of overpopulation met in Mexico City. It was attended by representatives of 147 member states.

At the time, 123 countries promoted family planning. But President Reagan decided not to send a representative. That decision could arguably be considered the most critical mistake ever made by a U.S. president.

The U.S. was considered a world leader, and without its participation, the momentum towards achieving the goal of a stable world population completely dissipated. Since that time, we have, in fact, moved in the exact opposite direction.

The most critical aspect of the population problem is simply that there are too many children being born to parents who are not ready to be parents. That has a domino effect and the result of that over the course of the last 40 years should be crystal clear to all of us.

Planned Parenthood is an organization that has consistently had two primary objectives. These are to make every child a wanted child and, through that achievement, end the practice of abortion by making it obsolete.

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These are, obviously, not objectives that can be fully realized in any foreseeable future. However, had we taken more seriously the issue of overpopulation when it was a worldwide concern 40 years ago, we would have been well on the way to achieving those twin objectives now.

Ronald Reagan was a good man. He did many good things as president and in the various other roles that made up his life. Like all of us, he made mistakes. None of us can undo the damage that results from those choices and decisions. But we can move to repair them.

In the case of addressing the population problem, that should be a non-political effort and a national priority. And it should include all levels of government and society.

We can begin by increasing government funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood. In addition to that, there should be federally mandated comprehensive sex education required of ALL schools, public, private and home. This training should include an introduction to the availability and usage of various contraceptives and the responsibilities and challenges of becoming a parent. A variety of standardized tests should be developed to ensure that all schools are complying with the requirements.

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