What? You’ve Run Out of the Pill? No IUDs either?

Before you do anything else, click on  www.empty-handed.org put out by Population Action International, Nathan Golon filmmaker. It won the Best Film or Miniseries award at the Population Institute’s Global Media Awards banquet on December 2, 2010 in San Francisco which I attended.

Next click on http://www.populationmedia.org/where/united_states/psa-campaign/ which is the ELEVATOR public service announcement about an ever more crowded planet. The one criticism I have of this PSA is that it doesn’t mention family planning. As the elevator gets more and more crowded, we learn that over 200,000 people are added to the planet every day which amounts to about 75 millon more people a year. This is not too funny when you think about food and water security, climate and energy security, environmental issues, and present and coming battles over resources.

Access to family planning is a human right established in United Nations human rights documents.  Yet, there has been and still is a severe shortage worldwide of family planning commodities. Good Grief!

Since 2002, when I started www.34millionfriends.org of the U.N. Population Fund I have been very conscious of all the web sites and pronouncements of all governmental and NGO reproductive health care entities. It is very fair to say that family planning is the forgotten stepchild, the non- emphasized ingredient of the reproductive health care movement. Yet family planning (contraception) is the most cost effective intervention for healthy women, children and families. And NO WOMAN who wants it should ever have to go without. 

Yet somewhere between 200 and 215 million women lack access. We must share in the despair of the women in www.empty-handed and we must change the world’s perception of this great gift of 20th and 21st century science. We must speak out.

And people are speaking out. I just learned that there is a coalition dedicated to ending the shortfall. Please see www.rhsupplies.org. At www.unfpa.org you can click on Essential Supplies on the left. 

I want to quote from my previous diary entry “Gender Based Violence: An Expanded Definition and a Pessimistic Assessment”: “Margaret Atieno, 38 years old from the Siaya district in rural Kenya, had six children and didn’t want any more.  Her husband had two other wives and there were thirteen children in all.  He was against the use of contraceptives.  She went to a clinic and was told that an IUD could solve her problem but the clinic had run out.  Before she could make a return visit, she was pregnant again.” People I view this as a form of gender based violence It does violence to her defintion of herself, to her self empowerment, to her very being. 

Nearly everyone reading this has planned her family. We have knowledge and means. We have not had to ask the questions which constitute the title of this diary entry. Family planning for those who want it is a win-win-win-win-win. For women, for children, for population stabilization, for the planet, and for peace. When talking about reproductive health both here and abroad, let’s have a “FAMILY PLANNING SPEAK-OUT!  

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  • gpso-2011


    Great column, and a pleasure to see you again in San Francisco. I would suggest to your readers that perhaps the Global Population Speak Out, whose mission statement is found below, can serve as a good first step towards your own suggestion of a “Family Planning Speak Out”. In many respects, that is actually what GPSO is.


    The size and growth of the planet’s human population are fundamental drivers of the ecological crisis facing us – no less crucial than overproduction and consumption in developed nations. Almost all environmental problems, from biodiversity loss to climate change, are traceable to the interplay of all these factors.

    To mitigate this global tragedy, changes in our consumption habits are indispensible. But, so are investments in voluntary family planning and reproductive health. Giving couples everywhere the ability to prevent unplanned pregnancies is critical for the health and well-being of women, their children, their communities and the planet.  This February, an international community of ecologists, scholars and concerned citizens will SPEAK OUT for a sustainable population and a sustainable world.  

    Of course, regardless of the population stabilization aspects of world-class family planning services made available to all women (and men) around the world, we should be making these investments anyway. It is just the right thing to do. Or, as you say, family planning “is a win-win-win-win-win.”


  • jane-roberts

    I sent this article to  Susan Rich who  works for RH at the Gates Foundation.

    I got this reply.

    Great- thanks, Jane. I am in Kenya where there is 26% unmet need and shortages of contraceptives. Best-Susan Rich


  • jane-roberts

    I also heard from Dan Pellegrom who heads the wonderful Pathfinder US RH NGO!

    Dear Jane—
    Thanks. I was rather dismayed at what you discovered and reported in your recent email. While I was in
    Egypt (now in Dubai airport about to return to States) I immediately addressed the issue. I think you did the issue (our issue) a service. My Board Chair, Cindy Fields, is copied because she is concerned about this as well.
    So, thank you, Jane Good holidays——-dan——