Five years ago, congresswoman Susan Wild distanced herself from a population control group that has called for families to be "taxed to the hilt" for "irresponsible breeding." But the Pennsylvania Democrat has quietly restored ties to the organization and praised it for "thoughtful and relentless advocacy" on the abortion issue.
Wild delivered a keynote address in April for Population Connection, an advocacy group launched by Paul Ehrlich, a controversial activist who has said abortion is a "highly effective weapon in the armory of population control." Population Connection, formerly known as Zero Population Growth, has urged government funding for abortion and asserted that "irresponsible people who have more than two children should be taxed to the hilt for the privilege of irresponsible breeding."
Wild praised Population Connection’s "incredibly important" work in a virtual chat from her home, a far cry from last year while she conducted an interview from behind the wheel of a fast-moving car.
Wild’s affiliation with Population Connection has caused her political headaches before. In August 2018, she deleted a social media post thanking Population Connection for its endorsement after backlash over the group’s advocacy for abortion and population control. Wild’s campaign at the time said the endorsement was a "distraction" from her campaign.
Wild, who narrowly won her race last year, acknowledged in her keynote speech that she represents "one of the more challenging Democratic districts in Pennsylvania." The congresswoman attributed her win to Democrats mobilized by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. "I can attribute many wins of Democratic incumbents, including myself, in part to the Dobbs decision," she said.
In touting Population Connection, Wild backs a group that aims to spread its pro-abortion, pro-population control message to K-12 and college students across the country. The group says it develops "K-12 curricula and secondary education materials for teachers and professors so they can easily incorporate population studies into their classes." Last month it hosted an event to help "teachers in classrooms across the U.S. teach their students about population and the upcoming 8 billion milestone."
A major part of Population Connection’s message is that abortion will help maintain low birth rates, which it argues will help the environment and curbs climate change. It recently hosted an event, "Low Birth Rates: Good for the Planet, Good for People," that asserted "economists and governments are needlessly panicking" over declining birth rates. The group criticized Twitter owner Elon Musk for warning about "population collapse" due to low birth rates. "His claims are deeply wrong and risk fueling reproductive rights violations," the group said.
Ehrlich, who has made numerous failed predictions of the Earth’s demise, has asserted that a population of 2 billion people is ideal for the planet. He’s advocated for abortion and compulsory sterilization to meet those goals. He has floated the idea of adding "temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food" to attain population control in the United States. In his 1968 tome, Population Bomb, Ehrlich called for "sterilizing all Indian males with three or more children" with support from the American government.
Ehrlich’s wife and co-author, Anne Ehrlich, has contributed $1,200 to Wild’s campaign since 2020, according to campaign finance reports. Population Connection’s political action committee has contributed $13,000 to her campaign since 2019.
Wild’s office did not respond to a request for comment.