Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Family Planning Needed Here, Too!

By Amy Phillips Bursch, Media Relations Manager

I have a confession to make: I’m a bit of a Grist fangirl. I really like their straightforward take on important environmental issues of our time.

Children are our future. Let's leave them a nice planet. (JD Hancock/Flickr)
I was especially happy to see Grist weigh in on contraception in the wake of last week’s London Summit on Family Planning. Their take: It’s not just developing countries that lack birth control access:  

If so many young women … are getting pregnant accidentally, then we as a country are doing something really wrong — doing lots of things wrong, actually. Sex ed in our schools is too often crappy or nonexistent. Reliable birth control can be hard to get ahold of and afford. Our whole culture is at once saturated with sex and at the same time afraid of having of having honest conversations about it. Add all that up and the result is that almost half of the nation’s 6 million-plus pregnancies each year are unintended.

Imagine if it became normal for young women in America, when they become sexually active, to start using a long-acting form a contraception — an IUD (they’re making a comeback!) or a patch or a ring or a shot, something you don’t have to think about every day — until/unless they decide they want to have kids. (Yes, they should still use condoms too.) Obama’s healthcare act will help make this more achievable; starting this August, most insurance plans will be required to cover the full cost of birth control. But it’ll take more than changing the rules; we need to change the culture too.


Currently, there are 222 million women in developing countries who want to delay or end childbearing but who don’t have modern, appropriate contraception. It’s a HUGE problem – for the women, their families, their nations, and the planet. But this Grist post makes an important point – women right here, in our own communities and neighborhoods, also lack access to contraception. That access is crucial if women are able to choose their own futures.

(That’s one of the reasons that I, personally, was so happy about Obama Administration’s rule on contraception, but that’s a post for another time.)

One issue Grist didn’t mention: Those millions of (unintended) American kids also have a big impact on our environment. Americans produce more trash per person than anyone else on Earth. We also use more energy per person than anyone else. We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!

P.S. No, I don’t hate children. I have seven nieces and nephews under age 6 whom I adore. I just want the best possible life for all kids for generations to come, and that won’t happen if we run out of resources first.

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