Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hey "Pro-Lifers": Family Planning Saves Lives. So Why Oppose It?

By Amy Phillips Bursch, Media Relations Manager
This is one thing I’ll never, ever understand: Family planning saves lives. Family planning prevents unplanned pregnancies. No unplanned pregnancies equals way fewer abortions. So why aren’t the hard-core “pro-lifers” in favor of family planning?

There are plenty of reasonable people out there who oppose a woman’s right to choose but fully support family planning, of course. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the activists and organizations who think abstinence is the only acceptable option to prevent pregnancy. That’s unrealistic, and it hurts women, infants and families. How? Here are some facts:
Family planning helps women -- and their children. (Legends2K/Flickr)
  • A U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) analysis found that if moms waited three years between pregnancies to have another baby, 1.6 million infant and child deaths could be prevented every year.
  • The Guttmacher Institute estimates that in 2012, 291,000 women in developing nations will die from pregnancy-related causes. At least 104,000 of those women didn’t want to be pregnant in the first place.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women under 20 are significantly more likely to die after giving birth than are women ages 20-29. Family planning allows younger women to wait to have children when their bodies can better handle pregnancy.
  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that babies of mothers who die are more likely to die themselves.
  • A Guttmacher Institute analysis found that family planning (at current levels) prevents 138 million abortions – including 40 million unsafe ones – each year in developing countries. An additional 26 million abortions (16 million unsafe) would be prevented if women who want to avoid pregnancy but don’t have modern methods of contraception had them.
  • Unsafe abortions account for 13% of maternal deaths around the world, according to the WHO. I think it’s safe to say that practically none of those women would have died from unsafe abortion if they hadn’t been pregnant in the first place.
But some “pro-life” organizations can’t be persuaded. The “personhood” people want fertilized eggs to be given all the rights of full-grown humans, making the most effective forms of contraception illegal. Personhood USA on Wednesday sent out a tweet saying that “The lie: birth control prevents pregnancy. The truth: most will get pregnant & ‘need’ an abortion.” I guess infertile couples should use contraception, then?

The American Life League actively promotes the falsehood that the “Pill Kills Babies.”  A new group, 1Flesh, has also jumped on the "pill kills" bandwagon, and OneMore Soul says “an openness towards having children yields specific medicalbenefits.” (Huh?)

Justice for All’s handbook, “Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue,” says birth control pills are “as if the child entering the uterus is looking for his camping spot and finds “NO CAMPING!” signs … he dies from lack of nutrition and hydration.” It also says that “since self-control seems to be the root cause of unwanted pregnancies, why not focus our efforts on teaching people how to be abstinent”? I’m sure married couples who don’t wish to become pregnant will find that suggestion just peachy.

It's worth repeating: Family planning saves lives. Family planning prevents abortions. Family planning helps gives women power over their own futures. 

You really want to oppose all of that, "pro-lifers"? Really? REALLY?