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For more than 40 years, the United States—through its Agency for International Development (USAID)—has been a global leader in enhancing women’s access to contraceptive services in the world’s poorest countries. Empowering women with control over their own fertility yields benefits for them, their newborns and their families. It means fewer unintended—often high-risk—pregnancies and fewer abortions, most of which in the developing world are performed under unsafe conditions. Better birthspacing also makes for healthier mothers, babies and families, and pays far-reaching dividends at the family, society and country levels.

The Benefits of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

Currently, a total of $648.5 million* is appropriated for U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs for FY 2011. This level of funding makes it possible for

  • 39 million women and couples to receive contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 12 million unintended pregnancies and five million unplanned births to be averted;
  • five million induced abortions to be averted (four million of them unsafe);
  • 33,000 maternal deaths to be averted;
  • four million fewer healthy years of life (DALYs) to be lost among women; and
  • 150,000 fewer children to lose their mothers.

Note: Eliminating U.S. assistance for international family planning and reproductive health programs would eliminate all benefits detailed above.

Deep Cuts Would Translate to Major Setbacks

These gains would be seriously jeopardized if this already modest funding for the program were to be cut. For example, a $100 million decrease, or 15% reduction, in U.S. international family planning and reproductive health assistance would result in the following:

  • Six million fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 1.9 million more unintended pregnancies, and 800,000 more unplanned births, would occur;
  • 800,000 more abortions would take place (of which 600,000 would be unsafe);
  • 5,000 more maternal deaths would occur;
  • 600,000 more years of healthy life (DALYs) would be lost; and
  • 23,000 more children would lose their mothers.

Note: Funding reductions of different magnitudes would have proportional effects. For example, the roughly $200 million cut proposed in H.R. 1—a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would fund the government through the end of FY 2011—would result in double the impact described above.

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