AG candidate Smitherman's one-size-fits-all-families thinking is wrong

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Railroad Commissioner and Attorney General candidate Barry Smitherman. 

Photo courtesy of the Railroad Commission of Texas. 

In an Aug. 15 address to the Texas Alliance for Life, an anti-abortion organization, Texas Railroad Commission chairman and Attorney General candidate Barry Smitherman gave quite a speech. The best sound bite came when he claimed that many unborn babies “would have voted Republican.” However, that crass and mystifying statement wasn’t even the most absurd claim Smitherman made in the same speech.

Smitherman also bemoaned America’s fertility rate, calling it the equivalent of China’s government-mandated one-child policy for urban couples. “Today, America’s total fertility rate is 1.93,” Smitherman said. “The needed replacement rate in America is 2.1. So, we are not making enough babies to replace Americans that are dying.” In fact, official estimates for America’s fertility rate vary from 1.93 to 2.06.

Smitherman, unsatisfied with America’s current population of 316 million, pointed to the social and economic benefits of a higher birth rate: “Despite what you may have heard about the world becoming overpopulated, and the need for fewer people in order to sustain the planet (a favorite line of global warming alarmists), growing populations of young people lead to innovation, creativity, a growing economy and a cleaner planet.”

According to the CIA World Factbook, all of the 45 highest national fertility rates are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the exceptions of Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, the Gaza Strip, Yemen and Western Sahara. If there’s a causal relationship between a nation’s fertility rate and its economic health, it’s not a positive one. 

The U.S. certainly wouldn’t be better off with a fertility rate of 4 births per woman, which would put it about level with Sudan. And yet, Smitherman noted that he and his wife were “doing their part” by having four children of their own. 

Smitherman may be happy with four children, but he shouldn’t assume that Texas families are one-size-fits-all. Before he truly begins his campaign for the office of Attorney General in a state of 29 million, Smitherman should rethink his ridiculous and illogical remarks.