Women’s Health and Rights in Jeopardy as Representatives Look to Eliminate International Family Planning
Women’s health and rights do not matter in some of the world’s most remote and poor communities, right? That’s the message that Representative Latta (R, OH-5th) is sending and other Representatives may well endorse this week. Representative Latta has filed an amendment that would eliminate all funding for international family planning programs in the proposed FY 2011 continuing resolution. Eliminate, zero, nada, zilch, nothing.
After all, what does having access to reproductive health care and family planning matter any way? International family planning programs only save lives, improve health, reduce poverty, empower women, increase economic growth and social stability. Those aren’t really that important.
Nor do the 26.5 million women who have access to family planning services because of current US funding levels apparently matter. Cutting US funding for international family planning would mean not only would these 26.5 million women lose access to critical services, there would be an estimated 7.8 million more unintended pregnancies, 3.7 million more abortions, 87,000 additional newborn deaths and 12,000 additional maternal deaths.
Yesterday in discussing USAID priorities for global health at the National Institute of Health, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Head of USAID, referenced the impact that family planning has had and the importance of investing in family planning services going forward. He said, “Through voluntary family planning services and new contraceptives, we’ve literally averted tens of millions of unintended pregnancies.”
Following Dr. Shah’s speech, Scott Radloff, Director of the Office of Population and Reproductive Health for USAID, said, “There are 215 million women who have an unmet need for family planning. In the poorest countries of the world, we find the highest level of unmet need among the poor, the rural, the uneducated. Our goal is to get services to these groups. We have 24 priority countries for family planning. We have 24 priority countries for maternal health. The same countries that have high need for maternal and newborn care are the same that have a need for family planning.”
Cutting funding is not just about women having access to contraceptives. It will have long term, devastating consequences for women’s health, the health of their children, and the futures of their communities. Do you want the United States to send a signal that we do not believe in the rights and health of women?
To ensure this amendment does not pass, please contact your Representatives TODAY. If you believe that women’s health and rights matter—no matter where in the world they live—tell your Representative to stand strong against the Latta amendment.
A woman in Bangladesh receiving contraceptives. Photo by Pathfinder International.