Millions of women in Africa and throughout the developing world suffer and die needlessly from unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion. But even the best contraceptive and postabortion services are not enough to prevent this. A third component that is often stigmatized and neglected even in the context of reproductive health programs is safe, legal abortion.
Just weeks after publication of a major report underscoring the benefits of robust U.S. investment in family planning worldwide, the GOP-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee voted in the early hours of the morning today to reinstate the Global Gag Rule with broader and more damaging implications than ever before.
Today, there are over 200 million women in the developing world who want to prevent or delay pregnancy, but are not using any means of modern contraception. But the greatest tragedy is that this figure has not budged in nearly two decades.
Two new reports reveal growing gaps in access to reproductive health care for women, especially among poor women, and those living outside major urban areas, and high rates of maternal mortality throughout the country.
Unmet need for contraception is high among older adolescents and young adults throughout the world, and most pronounced among young women 20 to 29 years of age. This gap should be filled through strategies that promote reproductive and sexual rights, while funding the essential services women need.
More women and men have access to and are using contraception throughout the world, reports the Guttmacher Institute, contributing to a decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies and, in turn, a decline in the number of abortions, from 45.5 million procedures in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003.
Concern about the pace of climate change is increasing, and so is concern about the role of population growth in driving it, reigniting or reinvigorating (depending on the viewpoint) calls for increased investment in family planning services for couples in poorer countries.