Ferguson: Better babies (4-12-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 12, 1944)


Ferguson: Better babies

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

There is a rising tide of public opinion in favor of a higher birth rate. The most recent champion of the cause is Mark Sullivan who draws horrific pictures of the future unless America and Britain keep pace with Japan in baby production.

And for what are all these children to be used? Larger families, it is said, will keep our supply of manpower so high that no nation will dare challenge us to war.

We are also reminded that the birth rate is low in well-to-do circles and that women college graduates avoided motherhood in the 20s and 30s, a fact which must be acknowledged and deplored. But in making that point the proponents of prolific breeding refute their main argument. For the point implies that the quality of human beings is more to be valued than their quantity, that it is better to have Grade A babies than Grade B.

Indeed, many countries which specialize in production of Grade B babies finally have such a preponderance of weaklings in their population that they can’t wage successful wars.

Our country easily could accommodate more children than we now produce. However, Army and Navy figures prove that if the present generation had had better food, better schools and better social backgrounds, its numbers would have been adequate for all military and civilian needs. The cold truth is that we have bred too many subnormal and diseased children in our slums.

Not more, but better babies should be our aim, babies whose parents will take the time to train them for citizenship and life.

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