Hopes Yet to be Realized
• Providing universal access for family planning and reproductive healthcare will not only reduce maternal mortality, it will help to reduce infant mortality, increase gender equity, strengthen national economies, and promote environmental sustainability.
• Investing in family planning saves on other healthcare costs. Every additional dollar invested in meeting the need for contraception, brings $1.47 in savings on pregnancy related-care, including HIV care for women and newborns. Family planning also reduces other development costs in education, healthcare, water, and sanitation.
• Increasing access to family planning will lower the incidence of unsafe abortion, but it will not eliminate the need for safe abortion services. Currently, some 20 million unsafe abortions are performed each year, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and leaving many women and girls permanently injured. Providing safe abortion services is integral to women’s healthcare worldwide. Natural and wartime disasters leave women and girls especially vulnerable to sexual violence, making access to safe abortion services especially crucial in these situations.
Taking Action – What We Must Do
- The US must increase funding for international family planning and reproductive health. Meeting the need for modern contraception alone would result in 52 million fewer unintended pregnancies and 21 million fewer unplanned births, while saving tens of thousands of women’s lives. Meeting the need for family planning services and increased maternal care saves hundreds of thousands of women’s lives.
- President Obama must take immediate executive action to help provide safe abortion in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment by correcting a misinterpretation of the Helms Amendment, which is preventing foreign aid programs in the developing world that receive US funding from providing abortion services. The Helms Amendment prevents foreign assistance funds from being used to “pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning,” but it does not prevent funding of abortion in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. The Helms Amendment is dangerous for women and should be repealed entirely, but the President can act now to help provide life-saving care to women globally.
What YOU Can Do
- Call on your Senators and Representatives to support increased US funding of global family planning and reproductive health programs.
- Call on the President to take executive action to correct the misinterpretation of the Helms Amendment and help provide desperately needed safe abortion services in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest.
- Host a film screening (e.g., Difret, Not Yet Rain, Walk to the Beautiful) to educate others on the need to empower women and girls and respect sexual and reproductive health and rights globally.
- Organize a speakOUT or a die-in representing the needless deaths of women and girls.