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.