Support Real Investment in Family Planning: It's Time to Double the Money

What Will $1 Billion Buy? Security. Stability. Survival.

Few investments promise as positive a return as family planning. But in the last decade, U.S. funding for international family planning programs has declined by almost 40%. At the same time, the number of women of reproductive age in the developing world has increased by more than 275 million.

Today, more than 200 million women in the developing world wish to delay or end childbearing but do not have access to modern contraceptives. Lack of access to family planning services contributes to a host of devastating consequences for the entire world: resource insecurity, social instability, and maternal and child death.

If the United States wants to meet these 21st century challenges, then it is time for a change in direction: a return to real investment in family planning.

An investment of $1 billion – roughly double our current spending – represents the United States fair share of the total cost of meeting the existing unmet need for family planning in the developing world, and it is a good investment in a healthy future for all of us.

Sign the petition, and let Congress know that real investment in family planning will reap massive rewards for the whole planet.

Dear Representative [Last Name]:

Few investments promise as positive a return as family planning. Every additional $100 million provided for family planning will allow 3.6 million additional women to use modern contraceptives and will result in: 2.1 million fewer unintended pregnancies; 825,000 fewer abortions; nearly a million fewer unplanned births; 70,000 fewer infant deaths; and, 4,000 fewer maternal deaths.

Real investment in family planning will:

Save the lives of women and children and improve quality of life for everyone.
Every year, more than half a million women die of pregnancy related causes worldwide and more than fifty million women suffer serious complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. Nearly all of these deaths and injuries are preventable. In fact, universal access to contraceptives could prevent nearly half of all maternal deaths and a significant proportion of infant deaths. The link between expanded access to family planning and increased maternal and child survival has been proven over and over in countries in every part of the world.
Today, there are 200 million women who would like to limit or space pregnancies but have no access to modern methods of contraceptives. Demand for birth control is projected to increase by 40 percent in the next fifteen years. It's time for the United States to renew its commitment to make a real investment in family planning.

Protect the environment and relieve pressure on natural resources.
Continuing population growth in the developing world contributes to resource scarcity and human suffering. Population growth leads to the destruction of forests, the spread of deserts, the pollution and over-fishing of oceans and waterways, and it is a major contributor to the climate change crisis. The end results are resource depletion, environmental degradation and malnutrition.

Failure to give people the ability to make their own choices about childbearing will make solutions to all of these challenges significantly more difficult to find.

Encourage social stability and decrease conflict.
Resource scarcity and other population pressures place stress on fragile governments and other social structures. Many poor countries struggle to maintain health care, schooling and urban infrastructure in the face of rapid population growth. Countries that lack the means to provide the most basic needs of their people -- food, water, housing education, employment -- are at significant risk of instability and conflict. In countries with significant unmet need for contraceptives, high fertility rates are leading to "youth bulges" -- a high proportion of young people with little or no hope of education and employment.

As you know, the United States was once a global leader in supporting family planning, but our contributions to international family planning programs over the past decade have been inadequate. Indeed, our nation is contributing significantly less than it did fourteen years ago. When inflation is considered, we are providing 40 percent less than we did in 1995.

It's time to reverse this trend. That is why I urge you to support significant new funding and policy language to strengthen family planning programs in the FY '09 State Department, Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. Specifically, I ask that you provide a total of $1 billion for family planning in the developing world, including $63.5 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In addition, I urge you to include new policy language to ensure that the UNFPA funding is not withheld by the administration.

To paraphrase former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, family planning builds stronger families, stronger communities and stronger countries. An investment of $1 billion represents the United States fair share of the total cost of meeting the existing unmet need for family planning in the developing world and it is a good investment in a healthy future for all of us.

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