This issue of International Family Planning Perspectives marks a new era in the journal’s history. From 1974 through the June 2008 issue, the journal was supported in large part by funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Publication will now continue with support from a new, nongovernmental donor.
We are grateful for our three decades of funding from USAID, which allowed us to provide vital information to researchers, policymakers and program administrators in developing countries—especially during the formative years of the family planning movement and the period before the Internet expanded access to information around the world. That funding, however, subjected the journal to the Helms amendment, which forbade publication of articles or other material that, according to USAID regulations, could be construed as “promoting” abortion. Because our new funding does not come from the U.S. government, we are no longer restricted in what we can publish.
Given that many readers still do not have Internet access adequate to download articles from our Web site (where the complete contents of each issue of IFPP are available free of charge), we will continue to send hard copies without charge to developing country organizations such as universities, libraries, research organizations and governmentministries, and to offer paid subscriptions to organizations and individuals in industrialized countries.
And now for a look at the contents of the first issue of our new era:
•Our lead article, by Reed Boland and Laura Katzive, examines what has changed in abortion laws worldwide over the last 10 years [see article]. After an exhaustive review and analysis of legislation and legal texts on 196 countries and dependent territories, the authors conclude that the worldwide trend toward liberalization of abortion laws observed in a 1998 review has continued. Since that time, 16 countries have increased the number of grounds on which abortions may be legally performed, as have state jurisdictions in two other countries. Two countries—El Salvador and Nicaragua—eliminated all grounds for legal abortion. Other countries maintained their existing grounds for legal abortion, but made changes that affected access. For example, some 35 countries have approved the use of mifepristone for nonsurgical abortion in the last 10 years, bringing the total worldwide to 39.
•Research has identified negative effects of poverty on sexual risk taking behaviors among adolescents, and has suggested that elements within the broader social and economic context of communities can influence health-related outcomes. Using data from the Transitions to Adulthood in the Context of AIDS in South Africa study, Amara Robinson and Eric Seiber found that poor and extremely poor adolescent females in KwaZulu-Natal had about one-third the odds of nonpoor females of using a condom at first sex, even after adjustment for community-level random effects; no such effect was observed among adolescent males [see article]. The authors conclude that poverty remains a central risk factor for HIV among young women, regardless of the surrounding context, but not among young men.
•In Turkey, despite widespread contraceptive use, little is known about the concurrence of spouses’ reports of use or about how method use is affected by communication, decision making and spousal power differentials. Using data on more than 1,500 couples from the 1998 Turkish Demographic and Health Survey, Andrzej Kulczycki found that in 81% of couples, the spouses agreed on whether they were using a method [see article]. After adjustment for background factors, two regression models—one based on wives’ reports and the other on husbands’ reports—showed that current use was positively associated with the number of methods known and perceived spousal approval of family planning; in the husbands’ model alone, approval of either or both spouses was associated with use. However, in a combined model limited to couples in which spouses’ reports of contraceptive use agreed, use was positively associated with both spouses approving of family planning, and negatively associated with both partners wanting more than three children or with only the wife wanting three or fewer children.
•Desire for a future child and ideal family size are the most commonly used indicators of fertility preferences. Tarun K. Roy and colleagues examined the value of these indicators with data from India’s 1998 National Family Health Survey and a follow-up survey conducted four years later [see article]. Responses on ideal family size were consistent between the two surveys for 53% of nonsterilized women. Some 82% of women who said in 1998 that they wanted no more children said the same in 2002; however, half of these women had given birth in the intervening period. The two indicators were highly consistent: Among women who had at least one son in 1998, 79% of those who had attained or exceeded their desired family size also said they wanted to stop childbearing, compared with 18% of those who had not attained their desired family size. Among women who had no son, those percentages were 32% and 9%. The author notes that as the prevalence of son preference declines in India, the predictive value of the indicators is likely to improve.