In 1990, some 381 million couples (51%) in lower-income countries used a family planning method. Access by fertile couples to contraception has grown from under 10% three decades ago to more than 55% currently, in the developing world. To achieve fertility rates consistent with the UN medium population projection of 64,000 million by the year 2000, an additional 186 million couples (a total of 567 million or 59%) must be using contraception by the end of the decade. There is desire for family planning services. It is estimated that 50 to 80% of married women wish to space or limit their childbearing. If all women who said they wanted no more children were able to stop childbearing, the number of births would be roughly reduced by one third in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Maternal mortality could be halved, and abortions, infanticide and abandoning children significantly reduced. Family planning alone could save the lives of 200,000 women and 5 million children by helping couples to space their children and avoid high-risk pregnancies.
US$4,500 million per year are spent on family planning services in the lower-income countries, $3,500 million coming from the countries themselves and $700 million from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (or only 1.3% of OECD development assistance). However, only one percent of the funds of overseas development agencies are devoted to population activities.
In the USA, despite widespread public support for family planning (in 1995, 64 percent of American women, ages 15 to 44, used contraception, up from 56 percent in 1982) a small but powerful segment of the US Congress, backed by religious lobbies, anti-abortionists and others, has sidetracked America's role in helping stem the tide of world population growth. A University of Maryland survey shows that 74 percent of Americans support assistance for international family planning. But in 1996, Congress actually cut foreign population assistance 35 percent and then delayed and restricted release of the money. As a result, a variety of groups have stepped up their efforts to promote reproductive health issues. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, for one, recently announced its "Responsible Choices Action Agenda," to strengthen its legislative and grassroots campaigns. Others, such as Negative Population Growth, are pursuing campaigns that encourage people to have no more than two children.
2. Family planning is now clearly recognized in most countries of the world as an effective means for women to achieve their fertility goals, to improve their own and their children's health, and to exercise their basic human right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children. While the right to use family planning is widely accepted, many couples and individuals are unable to exercise this right effectively. Some lack access to information, education and/or services; others must choose from among a limited range of methods and services; still others are in social and cultural settings that place a high premium on women's reproductive role and preference for sons. It is estimated that 25 to 40 million induced abortions are performed each year and that between 100,000 and 200,000 women die because of unsafe abortions in developing countries. Clearly, the provision and use of family planning services would help to eliminate not only these avoidable deaths, but also the need for a majority of women to resort to abortion in the first place. One of the most urgent priorities for the 1990s must therefore be the expansion, strengthening and improvement of the quality of family planning services in the developing countries. A related priority should be the strengthening of the information, education and communication aspects of family planning programmes. Without a programme of communication and education specially suited to particular socio-cultural setting, efforts to create the demand for family planning services and to ensure their effective utilization and outreach are likely to fall short of their targets. The goal of these intensified efforts is to increase the coverage of family planning education and services in developing countries from the currently estimated 326 million couples to at least 500 million couples by the year 2000.
2. Family planning schemes are bureaucratic intrusions into private life.
3. Family planning schemes are once again rich whites were trying to order around poor people of colour.
4. On the other hand, it is very alarming to see governments in many countries launching systematic campaigns against birth, contrary not only to the cultural and religious identity of the countries themselves but also contrary to the nature of true development. It often happens that these campaigns are the result of pressure and financing coming from abroad, and in some cases they are made a condition for the granting of financial and economic aid and assistance. In any event, there is an absolute lack of respect for the freedom of choice of the parties involved, men and women often subjected to intolerable pressures, including economic ones, in order to force them to submit to this new form of oppression. It is the poorest populations which suffer such mistreatment, and this sometimes leads to a tendency towards a form of racism, or the promotion of certain equally racist forms of eugenics. (Papal Encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 30 December 1987)