Hannity falsely claims science adviser Holdren “advocated compulsory abortion”

On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity forwarded the false conservative talking point -- which PolitiFact.com gave “Pants on Fire” status -- that White House science and technology adviser John Holdren “advocated compulsory abortion” and “spoke out in defense of compulsory abortion and sterilization.” In fact, Holdren never “advocated” for any kind of involuntary birth control; he co-authored an environmental sciences book more than 30 years ago that discusses “compulsory control of family size” including abortion and sterilization as a possible consequence for countries whose expanding birth rates are not curbed by “milder methods.”

From the September 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: So we know the White House sought out Van Jones, which begs the question: How many more like him are serving in our government? Is Van Jones just the tip of the iceberg?

We know for example there's John Holdren, the science and technology adviser, who has advocated compulsory abortion. And then there's Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor, who wants to ban hunting and grant rights to livestock, wildlife, and pets.

Now we can only conclude that it's time to take a much closer look at who exactly this president has now serving in our government.


HANNITY: Here's the question I have. When you have Eric [sic] Holdren, his science adviser, who supports -- spoke out in defense of compulsory abortion and sterilization.

MICHAEL STEELE (Republican National Committee chairman): Yep.

HANNITY: When you have a State Department lawyer, Harold Koh, who says the U.S. should follow Sharia law in some cases. This guy Cass Sunstein who wants to give rights to pets and ban hunting. You know, the question is, this is not just one mistake here.

STEELE: Right.

HANNITY: What does this tell you about this president? Is he presenting a more moderate face to the American people, but in reality he is a radical himself?

PolitiFact calls similar claim about “forcing abortions” “irresponsible,” gives it “Pants on Fire” status

PolitiFact.com: “We think it's irresponsible to pluck a few lines from a 1,000-page, 30-year-old textbook, and then present them out of context.” After Fox News' Glenn Beck claimed that Holdren “proposed forced abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population,” PolitiFact concluded that “the text of the book clearly does not support that. We think a thorough reading shows that these were ideas presented as approaches that had been discussed. They were not posed as suggestions or proposals. In fact, the authors make clear that they did not support coercive means of population control. Certainly, nowhere in the book do the authors advocate for forced abortions.” From PolitiFact:

But in seeking to score points for a political argument, Beck seriously mischaracterizes Holdren's positions. Holdren didn't advocate those ideas then. And, when asked at a Senate confirmation hearing, Holdren said he did not support them now. We think it's irresponsible to pluck a few lines from a 1,000-page, 30-year-old textbook, and then present them out of context to dismiss Holdren's long and distinguished career. And we rate Beck's claim Pants on Fire!

PolitiFact also quoted a statement from Holdren's office that said:

The quotations used to suggest that Dr. Holdren supports coercive approaches to limiting population growth were taken from a 1977 college textbook on environmental science and policy, of which he was the third author. The quoted material was from a section of the book that described different possible approaches to limiting population growth and then concluded that the authors' own preference was to employ the noncoercive approaches before the environmental and social impacts of overpopulation led desperate societies to employ coercive ones. Dr. Holdren has never been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive means of population limitation.

Indeed, Holdren and his co-authors advocated for non-coercive means of population control. After Holdren and his co-authors discussed involuntary fertility control, they concluded that "[a] far better choice, in our view, is to expand the use of milder methods of influencing family size preferences, while redoubling efforts to ensure that the means of birth control, including abortion and sterilization, are accessible to every human being on Earth within the shortest possible time. If effective action is taken promptly against population growth, perhaps the need for the more extreme involuntary or repressive measures can be averted in most countries." Excerpted from Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment, written by Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Holdren:

holdren book 1





Fox News routinely distorts textbook passage to attack Holdren

Hannity has previously said Holdren has “spoken out in defense of compulsory abortion.” Hannity has repeatedly accused Holdren of defending “compulsory abortion.” On his Fox News show, Hannity said: “We have this other guy, a science adviser, Eric [sic] Holdren, who's spoken out in defense of compulsory abortion. And, you know, all of this -- I know we've been very engaged. We have talked about all of these czars and all of these extreme positions. But there's one right after another.” [Hannity, 9/2/09]

Beck: Obama czars have “nut-job beliefs like putting sterilants in drinking water ... forced abortions.” Discussing Obama's czars on his Fox News show, Beck said: “I'm more concerned with the fact that seeming -- seemingly every single one of these guys shares one common thing: They all have nut-job beliefs like putting sterilants in drinking water, legal rights for animals, forced abortions. There's at least one communist that I know. The collective resumes of these czars has me on my knees every night praying for the run-of-the-mill socialist just to be appointed." [Glenn Beck, 8/3/09]

Beck: “Holdren has proposed forced abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population.” On his Fox News show, Beck said: “I mean, look at what's going on. We got czars coming out our -- they're shooting out of our butts. Czars like John Holdren, who is -- there is great evil happening in our country. Holdren has proposed forced abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population. Oh, that's crazy. What, that was -- that was 20 years ago." [Glenn Beck, 7/22/09]

Michelle Malkin accused Holdren of putting forth and writing about “wacky and nutty policies.” On Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin said: “I've been focusing on the so-called science czar, John Holdren, and he's actually one of the few, quote-unquote 'czars' who did go through the nomination process. But even in that sense there was not enough accountability for the wacky and nutty policies that this guy has put forth and wrote about in the 1970s. This is a guy who wrote a book that actually posited the idea of putting sterilants in the water supply so that women would be infertile, and they would have control over the population. It's very scary. And that's ultimately what the whole czar regime about. It's about control and coercion.” [Fox & Friends, 7/16/09]