strategy

Encouraging family planning schemes

Synonyms:
Developing birth control programmes
Introducing population control methods
Fostering reproductive and family health programmes
Providing family planning programmes
Increasing family planning services
Improving family-planning
Promoting effective family planning services
Advertising fertility control techniques
Advocating planned parenthood
Promoting family planning practices
Promoting family planning
Promoting decline in birth rate
Stimulating interest in family planning
Popularizing family planning
Description:
Initiating, sponsoring, supporting and facilitating activities in family planning and related population, and primary health care programmes and other projects by research, training, consultancy and publications. Promoting quality of care in family planning. Shaping world opinion through accurate and easily understood messages about population, contraception and reproductive health issues. Mobilization of resources for family planning schemes and programmes. Advocating individual responsibility in reproduction. Promoting sustainable development and global stewardship through population control.
Context:
The world's population is growing by 1,000 million a decade at current rates. Such rapid population growth is leading to unsustainable needs and consumption of resources, social unrest, and environmental degradation. In order to overcome these global crises, population growth must be brought down to within the Earth's carrying capacity. Population growth is determined by many socio-economic, ideological and cultural factors. In particular, more children are born into families which cannot survive without relying on the income from children. Thus, a large family is seen and required as a living pension. Access to and information on family planning services for both men and women can successfully reduce population growth rates. Despite opposition out of poverty and tradition, surveys have shown that family planning is widely desired in lower-income countries.
Implementation:
Wherever realistic family planning services have been made available, fertility has declined. This has helped reduce the historical average of 6 children per family (in virtually all societies) to about 3.8 in the developing world. For instance, in South Korea, family size fell from 6.0 children to 1.7. In Bangladesh, with access to fertility regulation choices, family size has fallen from 6.2 to 3.4 even though people are poor and uneducated, and infant mortality remains high.

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.

Claim:
1. If people don't want large families, then our efforts should really be to provide services to them so that they are able to limit the size of their families.

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.

Counter Claim:
1. The intellectual justification for spending billions on international family-planning programmes is shaky -- it tacitly depends on the notion that couples in the Third World are somehow too stupid to know that having lots of babies is bad.

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)

Subjects:
Reproductive system
Family
Services
Advertising
Promotion
Health
Birth control
Demography
Population
Control
Technical
Development
Reform
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies