Jump directly to the content
Family Planning Through a Global LensLindsay Mgbor/Department for International Development

Family Planning Through a Global Lens


May 7 2014
The developing world requires us to look at contraception as a pro-life cause.

As Hobby Lobby and others fight for exemptions from the Obama administration's health care mandate, there has been much discussion about the array of contraceptives available to women in the United States, which we should use, which our employers should cover.

But here in the U.S., we have the luxury to even have this debate at all.

In the developing world, access to tools for healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies can be a matter of life or death, for both the mother and the child. To women in these countries, the debates we have here would seem like a privilege.

There are 220 million women around the world who say they wish to avoid pregnancies but lack access to any effective contraceptives, counseling, or services. Reaching just 120 million of these women in the next decade could save millions of lives – including preventing an estimated 51 million abortions.

While some Americans may associate the widespread use of birth control with the sexual revolution, sex outside of marriage, and today's hookup culture, the developing world has a different reality. In many cases, the women who want to prevent pregnancies are married—very young or with several children already. In Ethiopia, girls—on average—marry at age 16, and the bodies of young girls are not yet ready to have children. Arguably, the sex inside these marriages is not truly consensual. These young girls are often forced to please their husbands at will, and as a result, are often forced into pregnancy after pregnancy.

Sadly, in Africa, 1 out of 39 women died in childbirth last year. That's compared to just 1 in 3,800 in more developed countries. Across the developing world, more than 287,000 women died last year due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Additionally, over 6.9 million children died of preventable, treatable disease, 40 percent were newborns.

For us to help these women and families, to reverse the course of dying mothers and dying children, we need to think differently about birth control. We can't merely see contraceptives as a drug of convenience or a political pawn or a subject of debate. Condoms, oral contraception, injectables, implants, and natural family planning: these are necessities for the health and flourishing of many areas of Africa and developing nations worldwide.

Healthy spacing and timing of pregnancy saves lives—as a strikingly successful means to reduce maternal mortality and improve child survival. It also can be a key to saving lives and economic empowerment in the developing world. The good news is that we have the information and highly effective tools, including both fertility-based natural methods and modern contraceptives, to make this a reality.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

The church can model a more inclusive community, one that doesn’t divide over marital status.
Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

When big corporations make big moral decisions, where is the church’s voice?
Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

How a social media app reminds me of God’s faithfulness in my life.
How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

This Father’s Day, I celebrate my parents’ choice to move close to my kids.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

I’m a Woman Who Got Kicked Out of Women’s Bathrooms

Our zealous policing of gender norms can have unintended and hurtful consequences.

Twitter

  • RT @DailyKeller: 201cGod doesn't just love you unconditionally. He loves you counter-conditionally-in spite of your conditions.201d
  • RT @michellevanloon: What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. - @AWTozer_
  • @JBsTwoCents d83dde17 Keep up the great work!
  • Timehop can offer us more than nostalgia https://t.co/3f6VdMUTeM
  • Shoutout to @sarahthebarge for her words of wisdom about navigating wedding season as a single person https://t.co/KW00sw9ghU


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Family Planning Through a Global Lens