Valentine’s Day is upon us, which for many people means it’s a time to celebrate love and plan romantic gestures for their sweethearts. It should also be a time when we appreciate the freedom and security birth control allows us to have in our romantic partnerships. So as you’re preparing for this special day (or not), what better opportunity to highlight the importance of access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services around the world?
Family planning empowers women and couples to decide the number and spacing of their births. Healthcare providers offer the education necessary to understand reproductive health, including the benefits of delaying pregnancy. Statistics clearly show that unintended pregnancy can lead to family instability, poor educational and labor market outcomes, and lower chances of upward mobility.
Family planning makes women healthier, safer, and increasingly likely to go to school and find employment. And when women obtain access to education and the workforce, their fertility rates naturally drop, slowing population growth.
Incredible, isn’t it?! Family planning is everything! That’s one reason why the U.S. has been such a big supporter of international family planning aid. Sadly, there are an estimated 214 million women in developing regions who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but who are not using any modern form of contraception. As the biggest single contributor to international family planning services, the United States has a direct and significant impact on the health of people worldwide. The U.S. currently spends $607.5 million in international family planning aid — which represents a tiny proportion of our overall budget (0.01%), but yields massive savings in other global health expenditures.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the 2018 contribution from the United States meant that:
- 25 million women and couples received contraceptive services;
- 7.5 million unintended pregnancies, including 3.3 million unplanned births, were prevented;
- 3.2 million induced abortions were averted (2.1 million of which would have been unsafe); and
- 14,600 maternal deaths were averted.
Despite these amazing benefits, the Trump administration has blocked funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides reproductive health care — including modern contraception — to vulnerable people in 150 countries around the world. Trump also imposed an expanded version of the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits clinics managed by foreign NGOs from even mentioning abortion as an option in order to continue receiving U.S. global health assistance. The refusal by some clinics to comply has forced them to shut their doors and leave their patients with nowhere to receive services.
Here in the United States, nearly half (45%) of pregnancies are unplanned. There is insufficient funding for the Title X family planning program to cover all low-income people who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, which covers only the poorest individuals. And relentless attacks by the far right threaten to end Title X and Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for health services patients receive, meaning that many patients will have nowhere to go for affordable healthcare.
So this Valentine’s Day, join us in fighting for everyone’s right to have intimate relationships with their romantic partners without fear of unintended pregnancies or STIs.
Because let’s face it — romance is a whole lot less carefree without access to family planning!
What can you do to help permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule? See below for ways to get involved.
Click here to become a member!
Click here to get involved with Population Connection members in your community!
Click here to learn about the #Fight4HER campaign, a joint project with our sister organization, Population Connection Action Fund!