Family Planning As a Right

The new report State of World Population issued by the UN Population Fund points out that 222 million women in developing countries do not have the kind of family planning they need. The report not only states that family planning provides “immeasurable” benefits to women, families and communities, it also says that “family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development,” since it is known to empower women and stimulate economic and social development. But the striking contribution of the report is that for the first time it is calling family planning a right and boldly states that access to contraception is a human right given that in poor countries it improves the lives of women and children. It goes further to say that barriers to access to contraception or other family planning measures are an infringement on women’s rights. According to its authors, increasing funding for family planning could reduce the healthcare bill for mothers and newborns in poor countries. For example a further $4.1 billion could save $11.3 billion annually. Neither the agency nor its report is legally binding nor could they have an effect on national laws. Still to those of us who advocate for family planning, calling it a right is indeed welcome.