An estimated 225 million women in developing countries want to delay or avoid pregnancy, but lack access to effective family planning. Meanwhile, 39% of all pregnancies that occur in developing countries are unintended, and each year approximately 290,000 women worldwide die from pregnancy-related causes.

Fortunately, the solution is simple and cost-effective: investments in family planning and reproductive health save millions of lives as well as billions of dollars in averted maternal and newborn care costs.  The U.S. has been the leading bilateral donor for international family planning and reproductive health and we must sustain this leadership if we are to see progress — and not declines — in the health of women and families worldwide.

The Benefits of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

A total of $610 million (of which $35 million is designated for UNFPA) was appropriated for U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs for FY 2014. This level of funding made it possible to achieve the following:

  • 31 million women and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 7 million unintended pregnancies, including 3 million unplanned births, are averted;
  • 3 million induced abortions are averted (2 million of them unsafe);
  • 13,000 maternal deaths are averted;
  • 60,000 fewer children lose their mothers.

Eliminating U.S. assistance for international family planning and reproductive health programs would eliminate all benefits detailed above.

More Cuts Would Translate To More Setbacks

These gains would be seriously jeopardized if this already modest funding for the program were to be cut again. For example, each decrease of $10 million in U.S. international family planning and reproductive health assistance would result in the following:

  • 520,000 fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 110,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 50,000 more unplanned births, would occur;
  • 50,000 more abortions would take place (of which 40,000 would be unsafe);
  • 200 more maternal deaths would occur; and
  • 900 more children would lose their mothers.

Funding reductions of different magnitudes would have proportional effects. For example, a $20 million cut would result in double the impact described above.

See the UNFPA Guttmacher report.

Opponents of family planning and reproductive health don’t just want to limit access in the U.S., they want to slash U.S. support for international family planning programs. It’s a perennial debate we see every year when the House and Senate determine funding and priorities for U.S. foreign assistance.  

But the evidence is clear

The U.S. investment in international family planning and reproductive health programs reduces unintended pregnancies, maternal deaths, infant and child mortality, and mother-to-child HIV transmission and advances the rights and empowerment of women and girls.  

Tell Congress: Health has no borders

Support U.S. Investments in International Family Planning and Reproductive Health Programs

Check out Planned Parenthood Global’s new animated video Health Has No Borders, narrated by TV’s Connie Britton of Nashville and Friday Night Lights. In under two minutes, the video answers the question “Why should I care about international family planning?” and makes important connections between U.S. citizens and support for programs overseas.