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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 children and their families. It means fewer unintended—and often high-risk—pregnancies and fewer abortions, most of which in the developing world are performed under unsafe conditions. Better birth spacing 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 $610 million (of which $35 million is designated for the United Nations Population Fund) is appropriated for U.S. assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs for FY 2012. This level of funding makes it possible to achieve the following:
- 31.6 million women and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies;
- 9.4 million unintended pregnancies, including 4.1 million unplanned births, are averted;
- 4 million induced abortions are averted (3 million of them unsafe);
- 22,000 maternal deaths are averted;
- 2.8 million fewer healthy years of life (DALYs) are lost among women; and
- 96,000 fewer children 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:
- 520,000 fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;
- 150,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 70,000 more unplanned births, would occur;
- 70,000 more abortions would take place (of which 50,000 would be unsafe);
- 400 more maternal deaths would occur;
- 50,000 more DALYs would be lost; and
- 2,000 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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