UN Declares Birth Control Is A Universal Human Right

Access to affordable contraception isn’t just under attack here in the United States. Globally, religious conservatives are blocking efforts to serve those who need that access most desperately — women in developing nations. In part because of this newly focused crusade against birth control, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday declared family planning a universal human right, emphasizing the economic benefits family planning can have for all society.

Currently, 222 million women have an unmet need for contraception. The UNFPA estimates that 4.1 billion U.S. dollars are needed to address these needs.

The estimate comes after a family planning summit in London four months ago raised close to $5 billion in funding commitments from donor countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help close the access gap. And Richard Kollege, author of the UNFPA report noted that the reports found that “making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by $11.3 billion annually.”

Meeting contraception needs would not only reduce health care costs but allow “young women to truly plan for work, school and childbearing on their terms,” said Kollege. These seemingly simple accomplishments allow women to make greater contributions to the economy and drive development. “Increased access to family planning has proven to be a sound economic investment,” the UN agency said in a press release.  ”The costs of ignoring the right of family planning include poverty, exclusion, poor health and gender inequality.”

This much we largely already know. It’s taking that information the additional step and declaring access to contraception a human right that we should take notice of because such a declaration creates obligations on governments not to interfere with access. Furthermore, it reinforces the idea that in order to be a fully whole citizen under the law one must have the ability to control one’s body free from government compelled procreation. That basic assumption is one the right rejects outright and one women’s rights advocates have fought hard for our allies to articulate.

The good news is that under President Obama, international family planning funding is at least safe from further retreat. Mitt Romney and his conservative allies had vowed to end funding when possible and reinstate the global gag rule, which would further tighten access. But as we’ve seen in the United States, the anti-contraception forces are patient and willing to fight for the long-term. This is not a battle that is going away anytime soon and one that could hold the future of the developing world in its resolution.

Related Stories:

The Biggest Foreign Policy Difference That Wont Come Up In The Debate

Gag Me: Stop A Global Reproductive Health Disaster

Congress’ War On Women, The Global Edition

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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197 comments

Laura Saxon
Past Member 2 years ago

They are so right. Thanks for sharing.

Elaine K.
Elaine K.2 years ago

Why would God be against preventing unwanted births? The God of Jesus Christ is a God of love. He could not be in favor of people having babies they do not want or cannot care for. What God could be in favor of malnutrition,starvation or abuse? The devil is the God who enjoys the suffering of others and he is the God that is against birth control,sterilization and early abortion because he is a sadist. God the creator who is loving,kind,and patient abhors cruelty and suffering. There are many intolerant bigoted antichrists claiming to be Christian but are not. They are children of Satan and the servants of sin spreading misery instead of love.

Beverly Morgan
Beverly M.2 years ago

Kudos!

Lyn V.
Lee V.2 years ago

Tell this to the catholic church

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

a win! education, contraception, and affordable health care are important and FINALLY getting attention

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

All nations that have introduced family planning and the right for women to decide over their own bodies, have developed financially, scientifically, socially and politically.

Heather G.
Heather G.3 years ago

If Protestants, or any one else, has a PROBLEM with IUDs or BCPs they are welcome NOT to use them!!! A fertilized egg that hasn't become even become a pregnancy by implanting into the uturus is NOT AN ESTABLISHED LIFE!!!!

Lynn D.
Lynn D.3 years ago

I really think the UN needs to be doing more important things....this is a social problem that each country needs to handle for itself! Thanks for article!

Christopher M.
Christopher M.3 years ago

I am not convinced the Catholic church is OK with us Protestants... wonder if they want to lock us up?

Christopher M.
Christopher M.3 years ago

It is easy to parrot what everyone else is saying, Contraception is a sin, contraception is a sin.... (repeat)

It is hard to know why the methods function and to think for yourself if they constitute killing of life already established.

Sterilization and the entire class of "barrier" contraception is Protestant friendly because it prevents (or should prevent) conception: there is no life before conception, and it either prevents conception or not, does not kill what is already there.

IUDs and some BCP interfere with implantation of a fertilized egg, so understandably even Protestants would have a problem with it.