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Why I'm Advocating for Increased Investments in Family Planning this World Contraception Day

Erica Goes Global

Saturday, September 26, is World Contraception Day, a day to celebrate  the power of family planning to save lives, promote good health and empower women, and urge Congress to support U.S. investments in domestic and international family planning and reproductive health programs.

As I’ve written before, the United States is the largest provider of international family planning funding; however, in the U.S. and around the world, there is still an unmet need for access to family planning, which Planned Parenthood is working to address.

You can help - sign the petition.

Barriers to birth control still exist for far too many women. In the U.S., birth control is politicized — just last week the House passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control counseling and services to 2.1 million patients in the U.S. each year. In addition to congressional attacks on the nation’s federally funded family planning program that nearly 4.6 million people rely on, there is push-back by some companies that don’t want to provide their employees with no-copay birth control, which is required by the Affordable Care Act.

Globally, 225 million women in developing countries still experience an unmet need for modern contraception, meaning that they want to avoid a pregnancy but are currently using no method or a less effective, traditional contraceptive method. This unmet need contributes to high rates of maternal and newborn mortality and undermines women’s ability to lead empowered and productive lives. Despite this need, members of Congress in the House and Senate have attempted this year to slash funding for international family planning and reproductive health by nearly $150 million and zero out the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is the UN agency that focuses on reproductive health and is a vital source of contraceptive supplies worldwide. And for the money it they did appropriate, they have attempted to impose the global gag rule, a harmful policy which impedes women’s access to family planning in other countries by cutting off funding for many of the most experienced and trusted health care providers.  While our bipartisan allies in the Senate have fought back against these attacks, Congress will have to resolve these differences to pass a budget before the fiscal year ends on September 30.

These attacks on women’s health need to stop: both here in the United States and internationally. Access to reproductive health care shouldn’t be stigmatized and politicized.

So what does it mean when the U.S. does invest in international family planning? In FY 2015, it meant that:

  • 28 million women and couples received contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 6 million unintended pregnancies, including 3 million unplanned births, were averted;
  • 2.4 million induced abortions were averted (1.9 million of them unsafe); and
  • 12,000 maternal deaths were averted.

That’s an incredible amount of women who rely on those funds to live safer, healthier lives.

We owe it to them— and ourselves — to make this investment as a way to support the empowerment of women and girls, improve health care access, and promote global development. We owe it to ourselves — and to them — to support access to contraceptives for millions of women in in the U.S. and around the world so that they can build their families as they so choose.

So what happens next?

In the coming days the House and Senate will have to pass a budget. Planned Parenthood affiliates across the nation are advocating to make sure our policy makers know how vital it is to invest in domestic and international family planning.  

In the meantime, you can help us advocate for eliminating the global gag rule once and for all by completing the petition here.

Erica, Planned Parenthood Global Youth Ambassador

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