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In: Population policy: contemporary issues, edited by Godfrey Roberts. New York, New York/London, England, Praeger, 1990. 21-37.On the basis of the orthodox assumption that population growth constitutes an obstacle to economic development, most countries have established programs aimed at reducing fertility through contraception. The methods used by family planning programs, ranging from voluntary acceptance through educational and informational campaigns to financial incentives or disincentives to outright forced sterilization, raise complex ethical issues. Specifically, there are 5 ethical principles--freedom, justice, welfare, truth-telling, and security/survival--that can be used to evaluate deliberate attempts to control human fertility. Such an approach suggests that forced abortion, compulsory sterilization, and all other forms of heavy pressure on clients to accept a given means of fertility control violate human freedom, justice, and welfare. The violations inherent in financial incentives are demonstrated by the fact that they are attractive only to the poor and disadvantaged sectors of the population. Family planning programs that offer incentives to field workers to meet acceptor quotas often lead to a disregard of client health and welfare by subtly encouraging workers to withhold information on medical side effects, outright deceive clients about methods that are not being promoted by the family planning program, and fail to take the time for adequate medical counseling and follow-up. Even programs that provide free choice to clients are illusory if the methods offered include controversial agents such as Depo-Provera and acceptors lack the capacity to make an informed choice about longterm effects. Recommended is the establishment of an international code of ethics for population programs drafted by a broad working group that does not have a vested interest in the code's terms.