A new World Bank report warns that poor countries, wealthy donors, and aid agencies are losing sight of the value of contraception, family planning, and other reproductive health programmes in helping to boost economic growth.
The report – Population Issues in the 21st Century: The Role of the World Bank – stresses the urgency of reducing high birth rates which are strongly linked with endemic poverty, poor education, and high numbers of maternal and infant deaths.
This is what the anti-contraceptionists hiding behind “pro-life” rhetoric aren’t telling us all as they bleat about beautiful, precious babies. The result of their programs is beautiful, precious babies dying in infancy or growing up in hopeless squalor to bring more beautiful, precious babies into poverty in their turn. Generation upon generation of misery and despair.
There’s a lot to digest in the article, let alone the full report. I’ll just highlight a few snippets:
of the estimated 210 million women who become pregnant every year worldwide, more than 500,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, and about one in five of them resorts to abortion because of poor access to contraception.
The report says that some 68,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe abortion, 5.3 million suffer temporary or permanent disability, and many end up being ostracized within their own communities.
The report says that the globe’s highest birth rates are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, where average fertility remains above five children per woman. While demographic patterns are converging in many regions, countries that are lagging in fertility decline and mortality reduction are increasingly different from the rest of the world.
“The longer it takes for countries to move to a low-fertility, low-mortality pattern, the greater the danger that high-birth rate countries will continue to experience greater inequalities in education, jobs, life expectancy, and adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS, than their wealthier counterparts,” says Phumaphi.
fertility can also affect women’s jobs in the workplace. One cross-national study has suggested that the percentage of women in the labour force is directly related to national birth rates and that, for example, in Bolivia, there were strong links between women using contraception and women jobs outside of the home.
Again, in the Philippines, the average income growth for women with one to three pregnancies was twice that of women who had undergone more than seven pregnancies. Accordingly, the number of children a woman gives birth to affects her subsequent employment and income prospects, with the risk of further driving gender inequalities and perpetuating poverty.
The forced-birthers want to keep the spotlight on abortion as if that is the only aspect of reproductive choice that matters. We shouldn’t let them get away with using abortion to paper over the bigger picture of why family planning matters so much.