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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
A total of $615 million (of which $40 million is designated for the United Nations Population Fund) is appropriated for U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs for the remainder of FY 2011, a cut of about $33 million below the FY 2010 amount. This level of funding makes it possible for
- 37.4 million women and couples to receive contraceptive services and supplies;
- 11.7 million unintended pregnancies and 5.1 million unplanned births to be averted;
- 5.1 million induced abortions to be averted (3.7 million of them unsafe);
- 32,000 maternal deaths to be averted;
- 3.6 million fewer healthy years of life (DALYs) to be lost among women; and
- 140,000 fewer children to lose their mothers.
Eliminating U.S. assistance for international family planning and reproductive health programs would eliminate all benefits detailed above.
More Cuts Would Translate to More Setbacks
These gains would be seriously jeopardized if this already modest funding for the program were to be cut again. For example, each decrease of $10 million in U.S. international family planning and reproductive health assistance would result in the following:
- 610,000 fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;
- 190,000 more unintended pregnancies, and 82,000 more unplanned births, would occur;
- 83,000 more abortions would take place (of which 60,000 would be unsafe);
- 500 more maternal deaths would occur;
- 59,000 more years of healthy life (DALYs) would be lost; and
- 2,300 more children would lose their mothers.
Funding reductions of different magnitudes would have proportional effects. For example, a $20 million cut would result in double the impact described above.
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