In 1994, the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development set goals to improve access to reproductive and sexual health services including family planning, and infant, child and maternal mortality. They hope to meet their goals by 2015.
The conference participants envisioned rich countries helping poor countries to meet these goals, but no one was given a free ride. Developing countries agreed to provide 2/3 of the money needed. For every $1.00 spent in these countries to meet these goals, they save $1.40 in maternal and newborn health care costs. It’s a win-win for the health of women and their babies, and a win-win for the financial well-being of the developing countries.
But as noted, this isn’t just about saving money. This is about saving the lives of women and children. The International Planned Parenthood Foundation works in 153 countries around the world. Their Director-General, Tewondros Melesse reports that while maternal deaths have fallen by 47 percent since 1990, women in sub-saharan Africa still have a 1 in 39 lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy related causes. If the goals set in Cairo are met, it would result in global unintended pregnancies dropping from 75 million to 22 million. There would be approximately 25 million fewer abortions (a goal we should all get behind), 22 million fewer unplanned pregnancies, and almost 1 million fewer deaths among women and newborns. Right here in America, we have the highest maternal death rate of all industrialized countries due to lack of pre-natal care for low-income and uninsured women.
The world’s population hit 7 billion last year. Half of the world’s citizens are under the age of 25. It is imperative that these young people are educated about reproductive rights and have access to necessary reproductive health care.
While countries around the world are trying to provide better access to reproductive health care, right here in America we are trying to curb that access. In 2011, states enacted 135 new reproductive healthcare laws ranging from personhood amendments, to trans-vaginal ultrasounds as a pre-requisite to receiving an abortion, to attacks on contraception, including allowing employers to decline to cover contraception, even when they hold no moral or religious objection to it. In some states it is legal to charge a woman up to 80% more for insurance coverage than a man of the same age and health status.
But the truth is clear now. Opponents of abortion have often said they simply want to end abortion. We can see now that their ultimate goal is to end access to contraception.
We won that battle almost 50 years ago with a Supreme Court Decision (Griswold vs. Connecticut). Yet here we are again, fighting once more to have control over our reproductive lives.
So there is a world wide war being fought FOR women. It’s just not happening here in America. Right here, we have a war AGAINST women. If you don’t see that, you haven’t been paying attention.
The teen pregnancy rate in the US is at the lowest in four decades. This is a direct result of two things: sex education in public schools and access to birth control. Many states are banning sex education and many more are trying to limit access to birth control. This will only result in an increase in teen pregnancy.
Talk to your wives, your mothers, your sisters and daughters. Ask them what they think about birth control. Ask them what they think about the possibility of NOT having birth control. And please register to vote. This presidential election will be one of the most important elections for women in the last 50 years.