UK Government preparing for Family Planning Summit for developing countries

The UK government is planning to host a Family Planning Summit in London in July, shortly before the Olympics. Here’s what the Department of International Development has to say:

The UK Government is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and partners to host a Family Planning summit in London in July 2012.

The event will aim to generate unprecedented political commitment and resources from developing countries, donors, the private sector, civil society and other partners to meet the family planning needs of women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.

There are hundreds of millions of women in developing countries who want to delay or avoid a pregnancy but are not using an effective method of family planning. The UK Department for International Development’s priority for this year is to support national governments’ efforts to increase access to family planning in the poorest countries. This is part of the UK’s contribution to the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health “Every Woman, Every Child.”

So what exactly do they mean by “family planning”?

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin Executive Director of UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund – had this to say about the purposes of the summit:

Since the late 1960s, the international community has proclaimed a person’s right to family planning, that is the right to decide whether, when and how many times to have children, as well as to the means to exercise this human right. Those means include access to reproductive health care, including contraceptives, information, supplies and services. The right of individuals to determine freely the size of their families was emphasized and expanded by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, in Cairo. The Conference also put women at the very heart of population programs.

Yet, in the developing world, an estimated 215 million women who want to delay or avoid their next pregnancy cannot exercise this right as they lack modern contraceptives, resulting in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and more than 100,000 maternal deaths. This is what the family planning summit in July will tackle.

OK, so we know two things. Firstly, this is primarily about contraception and secondly, this is a ‘human right’.

There are two problems with this.

The first is that the UN has never deemed contraception a human right nor guaranteed access to particular forms of ‘family planning’.

The second problem revolves around the efficacy of contraception for family planning.

At this point I would like to refer you to Stacy’s post in which she examines the mathematical proof that birth control fails.

Here’s a summary:

8 out of 100 women [using the pill] will have unintended pregnancies in one year, but 34 of those same 100 women will have unintended pregnancies in 5 years, and more than half in 10 years. Condom use has an even higher failure rate, so typical-use of condoms over 5 years actually makes a woman more likely to get pregnant than not. Over ten year’s time, it practically ensures unintended pregnancy.

And what about teens?

Fifteen is the age considered the beginning of the reproductive lifetime, so out of 100 fifteen-year-old girls who begin using birth control, 36 of them will be pregnant by the time they are age 20. More than half will be pregnant by the time they are age 25. For condom use, again, it practically ensures unintended pregnancy by age 20. (Disease is a whole ‘nother story.)

You can check the stats over on Stacy’s post but she concludes:

Thus, birth control does NOT prevent unintended pregnancy, but over time it actually makes it more likely, whether the woman is a teen or not.

So much for contraception.

Turtle Bay and Beyond had this to say:

Though not a single UN treaty ever calls contraception a human right or guarantees access to particular forms of family planning, there has been a push strong push recently within the UN to replace even the words “family planning” with contraception. It would seem that this is part of a larger effort to define family planning as “contraception” and to marginalize the other natural methods that family planning includes.  The most recent attempt to do replace family planning with contraception was spearheading by the United States during this year’s most important women’s conference at the UN.

Though the UNFPA has called for “contraceptive rights” for some time now, even publishing a briefing paper with the Center for Reproductive Rights on the subject in 2010 titled, “The Rights to Contraceptive Information and Services for Women and Adolescents”, it is still alarming that they continue to do it without any legitimate claim to such a right existing.

It also seems that the main purpose of the conference is t0 launch global campaign for contraception, called the “Golden Moment on Family Planning” (GMFP). According to Dr. Osotimehin, like the conference, it too will focus on closing the gap for the unmet need for family planning by 2020.

It’s worth noting that I don’t object to contraception on religious grounds and consider it a matter of conscience; however, I have been met with short shrift due to my lackadaisical view on this, by far better Christians than I.

However, it would seem that defining ‘family planning’ solely in terms of contraception is flawed statistically, and may even exacerbate the problem.

Please note this is not a blog post tackling the issue of contraception and disease, which is a subject fraught with its own problems.

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27 Responses to “UK Government preparing for Family Planning Summit for developing countries”

  1. Ben Trovato Says:

    Good post, as ever, Stuart!

    The elephant in this particular room, of course, is abortion. They will try to get universal rights toFamily Planning written in to everything, then later re-define it to include abortion. Just watch…

  2. webmaster Says:

    Absolutely right Ben, check out my previous post:

    Is the EU illegally funding abortions in developing nations?

  3. Sue Says:

    “Thus, birth control does NOT prevent unintended pregnancy, but over time it actually makes it more likely, whether the woman is a teen or not.”
    I don’t know where Stacey gets her statistics from but they are just barking! In the twenty plus years I’ve been with my husband (using condoms) I have had no unwanted pregnancies whatsoever, no miscarriages, and (obviously) no terminations. I’ve never even had a scare. This is not due to any fertility problems. I fell pregnant within seven months of trying for my first child and became pregnant the very first month I tried for my second.
    I suggest that birth control generally doesn’t work when people use it badly, don’t bother to take the pill every day or think it’s too much effort to use a condom. That’s when pregnancy occurs!

  4. Caral Says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinion Sue, but it is a fallacy I’m afraid. Your anecdotal experience doesn’t prove the principle incorrect.

  5. Sue Says:

    I have provided the above link for your education and elucidation, Caral. Any article which tells me that, “condom use practically ensures pregnancy” is written by someone with a major reality by-pass.

    In any case, IF you believe that birth control “over time makes pregnancy more likely” and IF you believe that preventing pregnancy is morally wrong as (some) Catholics do, then ergo you should use contraception – otherwise you are preventing pregnancy MORE than you would if you used it.

    I look forward to the Pope advising the widespread and long term use of contraception.

  6. Gordon Says:

    Devils advocate:

    If contraception was unreliable, surely the Catholic church would be all in favour of it?!

  7. Goy Says:

    In hoc signo vinces†

    The experience in Scotland was and is the promotion of abortion, contraception and sterilisation of the indigenous population – particularly targeting the lower social groups. While at the same time Scottish government policy is to supplant the indigenous population with Third World immigrants.

  8. Stacy Trasancos Says:


    I explained to my 8 yo when she was learning about probability that if you roll a dice once, you know the probability of rolling a “2.” She understood that if you roll the dice 10 times, the chances of rolling a “2″ just once go up because you roll the dice more times. Every time you roll it, you take another chance.

    I’m only using the failure rates the contraception manufacturers publish. They publish the risk on a one year basis. Wonder why they don’t report failure over time??? Most women who have abortions report that they were using contraception.

  9. Gordon Says:

    The chance of rolling a 2 does not increase with the number of times you roll the dice. Each roll is an independent, unconnected, action.

    If you toss a coin and it comes up heads ten times in a row what are the odds of it coming up tails on the next throw? Answer 50%. Its the same with dice.

    Studies done of gamblers have shown that they are less likely to understand this than the average person in the population.

    Anyway, contraception does generally work. That is the experience of most families. And as I said, if it doesn’t work surely that’s a good thing?

  10. Stacy Trasancos Says:


    “The chance of rolling a 2 does not increase with the number of times you roll the dice. Each roll is an independent, unconnected, action.”

    Nooooo. Please look up binomial distribution. Each individual event is independent of the previous, true. That’s not the point, actually that’s a requirement of a binomial probability distribution – events must be independent and not dependent.

    “If you toss a coin and it comes up heads ten times in a row what are the odds of it coming up tails on the next throw?”

    Wrong question. The question is: If you toss the coin 10 times (or N # of times) what is the probability that *in those 10 tosses combined* you will get a head once (or k # of times).

  11. Sue Says:

    Precisely Gordon!
    No contraception, other than abstinence, is 100% foolproof and lifelong abstinence is not an option for most people. However, many forms of contraception offer rates close to 100%, used effectively the vast, vast majority of women will not get pregnant. That is, as Gordon says, the experience of most families. Under 1% of women on the pill report getting pregnant. A proportion of that 1% say that they used the pill correctly. A number of those making that claim did not use it correctly and do not want to admit it! Quite a few women take it “when they remember” and I’ve had friends who’ve confessed to me that they forgot to take it for over a week! In addition to that, not everyone realises that stomach upsets will reduce the efficacy of the pill, as will a small number of herbal remedies such as St John’s wort. Condoms should not be used with water based lubricants also.
    The majority of failures of contraception are due to user error, whether people admit to that or not. Contraception, used properly, will offer a very high level of protection against unwanted pregnancy and, as Gordon says, if you really believe they don’t , why not welcome their use and let everyone get on with it!

  12. Stacy Trasancos Says:


    “Under 1% of women on the pill report getting pregnant.”

    Can you cite this source, please. Not trying to be snarky, just would like to see that.

  13. Gordon Says:

    Most Catholics seem to use contraceptives. Either that or they are a remarkably infertile group of people.

    As for the maths – the suggestion that the more you have sex the greater the chance of contraception failing is wrong. Each use of contraception is another instance which may or may not fail. There is no cumulative effect.

  14. Stacy Trasancos Says:


    The math is based on number of years, not number of times you have sex.

    I’m not wrong about this. People just don’t like that it’s right.

  15. Simian Says:

    Surely the issue is not whether ‘artificial’ contraception is wrong because it is unreliable, but whether it is intrinsically wrong, and people’s views on this depend largely on their choice of religion.
    To say that contraception is wrong because it leads to abortion is surely like saying driving a car is wrong, and should be banned, because millions of people are killed by irresponsible drivers every year.
    What the statistics on contraception failure do not show is the root causes of failure. In my experience in the UK, failure is most often a result of carelessness, forgetfulness, or lack of understanding in the correct use of contraceptives. It is not because the contraceptives are inherently unreliable.

  16. Sue Says:

    Stacey, Official NHS figures. See link above. I also posted it earlier. The combined contraceptive pill is over 99% effective. Less than 1 woman in 100 gets pregnant using this method.
    Some of those that do and report using the pill correctly may not actually have done so. Simian is right that failure is most often the result of human error or carelessness. But the only 100% sureproof method is complete abstinence. Hardly realistic?

  17. Sue Says:

    Stacy – You can’t possibly believe that condom use practically ensures pregnancy! I am sure you said this somewhere in your article!

  18. Tim Says:

    “Consciousness is part of the absurdity of reality,” says Baudrillard. It could be said that the primary theme of Werther’s model of the capitalist paradigm of context is not discourse per se, but subdiscourse. Lyotard uses the term ‘expressionism’ to denote the bridge between sexual identity and society.

    “Sexuality is impossible,” says Debord; however, according to Porter, it is not so much sexuality that is impossible, but rather the fatal flaw, and eventually the futility, of sexuality. In a sense, if materialist narrative holds, we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative and precapitalist nihilism. Sartre suggests the use of conceptual discourse to attack sexism.

    “Class is part of the meaninglessness of narrativity,” says Derrida. Therefore, any number of situationisms concerning dialectic narrative may be revealed. Debord uses the term ‘the postcapitalist paradigm of narrative’ to denote the role of the participant as reader.

    The characteristic theme of the works of Stone is the difference between society and class. In a sense, Marx promotes the use of dialectic narrative to deconstruct and modify consciousness. Many narratives concerning a mythopoetical totality exist.

    If one examines textual nationalism, one is faced with a choice: either accept dialectic narrative or conclude that reality serves to reinforce hierarchy. Therefore, la Fournier holds that the works of Stone are modernistic. Debord uses the term ‘neodialectic deappropriation’ to denote the role of the artist as reader.

    “Class is used in the service of sexism,” says Sartre; however, according to von Ludwig, it is not so much class that is used in the service of sexism, but rather the stasis of class. In a sense, if expressionism holds, we have to choose between Baudrillardist hyperreality and subtextual conceptual theory.

    Therefore, the subject is contextualised into a Lyotardist narrative that includes language as a whole. Sartre uses the term ‘predialectic dematerialism’ to denote the common ground between consciousness and society.

    In a sense, Humphrey implies that the works of Stone are reminiscent of Glass. The subject is interpolated into a expressionism that includes sexuality as a paradox.

    Therefore, Derrida suggests the use of the conceptual paradigm of narrative to challenge the status quo. Lyotard’s analysis of dialectic narrative suggests that discourse is created by the masses, given that culture is distinct from reality.

    Thus, if expressionism holds, we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative and subdialectic feminism. The primary theme of Werther’s critique of dialectic narrative is the collapse, and subsequent failure, of textual sexual identity.

    Therefore, Tilton states that we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative and the dialectic paradigm of context. A number of narratives concerning expressionism may be found.

    In a sense, Sartre promotes the use of Lyotardist narrative to analyse class. Any number of discourses concerning a self-falsifying reality exist.

    It could be said that Sontag suggests the use of subtextual theory to deconstruct class divisions. If dialectic narrative holds, we have to choose between deconstructivist sublimation and Marxist class.

    But the subject is contextualised into a expressionism that includes sexuality as a totality. The characteristic theme of the works of Joyce is not, in fact, theory, but neotheory.

  19. Stacy Trasancos Says:

    Sue, those are perfect use numbers, not typical use. Typical use is based on what actually happens, not an ideological what if perfection.

  20. Sue Says:

    Stacy, if you use contraceptives well, they offer extremely high rates of protection. Even the “less reliable” ones (like condoms at 98%) can give you a lifetime free from unwanted pregnancy. That is what “actually happens”. It has for me.

  21. Goy Says:


    Intense, are you saying the womb is the prime battlefield of class and nationalistic warfare?

  22. Tim Says:

    I haven’t a clue what I’m saying, lol.

  23. Goy Says:

    Building windmills from castles, as postmodern as reading two contradictory psychiatric reports at the same time. :-)

  24. Tim Says:


  25. Roger Pearse Says:

    As David Cameron would probably say, “The real problem in the world is that too many of the wrong kind of poor people are breeding too much.”

  26. Jill Says:

    The pope is right on condom use. The countries awash with condoms have the highest rates of unwanted pregnancies, STIs and HIV/AIDS.

    They just encourage promiscuity – as does birth control generally – and sadly not all people aren’t as well-disciplined as Sue.

  27. Simian Says:

    You are confusing cause and effect. And do you seriously believe that stopping the use of condoms will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and STD’s in those countries? Really?

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