Utah environmental group encourages small families

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A Utah environmental group is delivering a message it think needs to be heard more often in a state known as the mecca for large families: It’s OK to plan small families.

At a kickoff news conference this week, speakers with the Utah Population and Environmental Coalition stood at a podium beside a stack of boxes of diapers, meant to illustrate the environmental impact of having babies, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“We are not pushing contraception, but rather we are honoring the right of each couple to choose the family size that is right for them,” coalition chairwoman Susan Soleil said.

She said the group isn’t criticizing or making judgments against large families. Its message is that small families are just as gratifying and acceptable as large ones.

The coalition recognizes how sensitive the topic is in Utah, where nearly two-thirds of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormons generally have larger families, driven by the beliefs that people are to follow God’s commandment for “his children to multiply and replenish the earth.” Utah consistently has the nation’s highest birthrate.

Pam Perlich, senior research economist at the University of Utah, said a good indicator for population growth _ among other factors _ is total fertility rate, which measures how many children a woman could have over the course of her childbearing span.

Utah’s fertility rate is about 2.5, well above the national average of two, Perlich said. That rate used to be much higher, though, she said. In 1960, the state’s fertility rate was 4.4.

Utah is consistently one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, and population has nearly doubled in the past three decades to 2.8 million in 2012.

Soleil said the goal of the campaign isn’t to influence family size, but to let people know they should plan what’s best for them.

“When those very personal decisions are made with hearts full of love, and include weighing all of the variables such as financial, emotional, physical and environmental considerations, couples will find their perfect family size,” Soleil said.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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