As the originator of implant contraception, and director of the international team of scientists that developed Norplant, seeing this new contraceptive win approval from the Food and Drug Administration was the culmination of 24 years of exciting and satisfying work. But the best of scientific and technological advances often are also bent to immoral and destructive purposes. The thrill of success has been dampened by some of the suggested uses of Norplant that have appeared in the print and electronic media.

I was appalled by The Post's account {"Inquirer's Birth Control Bomb," Style, Dec. 18} describing how editorial writers at the Philadelphia Inquirer saw Norplant as a way of reducing the welfare burden resulting from high fertility among the underclass. A radio talk show host suggested that Norplant offers a "solution" to the problem of teenage pregnancy. His proposal was that all young girls reaching puberty should be required to use Norplant, so that in the years ahead they could not become pregnant unless they took the positive step of going to a clinic to have the implants removed.

It has been suggested, also, that Norplant provides the judiciary with a weapon to impose forced sterilization as a punishment for crimes such as child abuse. Some family planning advocates in the United States see in Norplant a powerful addition to the "contraceptive armamentarium," as they call it, for poor countries. "A dream method for birth control programs," they explained, "because once Norplant is inserted, a woman cannot become pregnant unless she is motivated enough to take the positive step to have it removed."

Hold everything! Norplant should never be used for any coercive or involuntary purpose. It was developed to enhance reproductive freedom, not to restrict it. My colleagues and I worked on this innovation for decades because we believe in human dignity and believe that women should have the opportunity to have the number of children they want, when they want to have them -- not just educated and well-to-do women, but all women.

Those who suggest using Norplant for involuntary or coercive sterilization or birth control will find me leading the opposition. Our purpose in improving contraceptive technology is to enrich the quality of human life. Using Norplant, in this country or abroad, to toss aside rights and trample human dignity would be an intolerable perversion.


The writer is director of Population Sciences at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City.

On Dec. 18, The Post ran a story on reaction to an editorial titled ''Poverty and Norplant -- Can Contraception Reduce the Underclass?'' which was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer a week earlier. The predictable spirited debate about the issues raised in the Inquirer editorial was forestalled by specious charges of racism and insensitivity. The Inquirer's own thought police arrested the debate.

Despite the infantile reaction of some black staffers, ''people in tears'' who perceived a suggestion that ''they shouldn't have been born,'' birth control incentives would not be genocide. Such incentives would be a human inducement to social responsibility.

The essential question is: Does a prolific birth rate exacerbate or ameliorate the plight of the urban underclass, black or otherwise? Deemed politically incorrect, the question was lost in a flood of outrage.

Such is the power of liberal fascism and politically correct thought that rather than stand by the legitimate questions raised by the editorial, Inquirer Editor Maxwell King pusillanimously chooses to apologize. Fear of being labeled racist stifles discourse and retards progress. If we are afraid to ask the questions, then we suppress the truth, and racial hysteria will prevail.