In the USA in 1997, 60% of all pregnancies were unintended, a rate two to four times higher than in other industrialized countries. Most of these pregnancies result in births. In contrast to the Netherlands, in the USA, contraception is treated secretively, and its discussion is forbidden on television and in many schools. Many women with unintended pregnancies claim not to have used birth control methods because they did not want their male partners to think that they were expecting sex.
Attempts to assess the incidence of unwanted pregnancies are fraught with difficulties. Several approaches have been adopted: abortion or illegitimacy rates have been used as indices, and direct questioning of parents has also been tried. The associations found between unwanted pregnancy and morbidity and mortality are very much related to the approach adopted.
Millions of the world's people still lack access to safe and effective family planning methods. By the year 2000, some 1.6 billion women will be of childbearing age, 1.3 billion of them in developing countries.
Unwanted high fertility adversely affects the health and welfare of individuals and families, especially among the poor; and seriously impedes social and economic progress in many countries. Women and children are the main victims of this unregulated fertility. Too many, too close, too early and too late pregnancies are a major cause of maternal, infant and childhood mortality and morbidity.
2. First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify* this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of family circumstances (Papal Encyclical, Casti Connubii, 31 December 1930).