Worldwide, about 125 million women face social, emotional, and spiritual trauma – and for some, the life-threatening risk – of not having access to family planning. As a result, one in four births worldwide is unplanned, leading to 42 million abortions each year (half of them clandestine) and 68,000 women’s deaths.
Death in childbirth takes one woman’s life per minute per year and ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in poor countries. Many more women survive but have their health permanently ruined by repeated childbearing.
Here in the United States, lack of access to affordable health insurance results in an estimated four in ten poor women of reproductive age without family planning services. Although public funding by itself cannot meet the total need, it can make a real difference in the lives of women and families. Researchers have estimated that publicly-funded family planning helped to prevent 973,000 unintended pregnancies .
As women struggle financially (especially women with children), access to health insurance and reproductive health services is less and less available. According to a 2009 survey, one in four women report having put off gynecological visits to save money. Those using oral contraceptives report inconsistent use as a means of saving money. This inconsistent use is significantly higher among women who are struggling financially (25% vs. 6%).
This same survey found that in response to the recession, nearly half of the women surveyed wanted to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they would have. These women recognized that unintended parenthood can have a staggering impact on a family already struggling financially. Unintended pregnancy also has significant societal costs estimated at $12 billion per year. At the same time, every public dollar the U.S. spends on contraceptive services for the poor yields savings of nearly $4. In a time of great concern over budget deficits and recession, these costs are worth noting and taking seriously.
This is only a small portion of our full statement. To read more, download the entire statement as a PDF here.
More information on this initiative may be found on the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.