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The United Nations conference on population this September in Cairo, already marred by Vatican meddling (including warnings to Islamic nations that outside family planning services will lead to Westernization; see “Still ticking,” March/April 1993, and “The bomb ticks on,” Jan./Feb. 1994), will no doubt focus on populous and less-developed nations like China and India. But as the new book (and upcoming documentary) “World War III” details, the U.S. should hardly feel smug: Teens in Los Angeles have one of the highest birthrates of teens anywhere in the world. California’s birthrate in 1990 was 84.6 per thousand, vs. 21 per thousand in China; 31 in India. In 1991, Population Action International included the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Malawi, Haiti, and the U.S. as among the world’s least progressive countries in expanding access to family planning services.

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