Family planning experts and advocates have wasted no time urging President Barack Obama to reverse former President George W. Bush’s international family planning policies. Five former directors of population and reproductive health at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) call for the United States to renew its political and financial commitment to global family planning programs in Making the Case for U.S. International Family Planning Assistance
, a report by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). The former bureaucrats recommend that USAID’s budget for international family planning be increased to $1.2 billion in FY 2010, up from $457 million in FY 2008, and that it be raised gradually to $1.5 billion in FY 2014 in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to reproductive health services by 2015.
In a compelling white paper (executive summary) submitted to the Obama transition team by Population Action International (PAI), the authors argue that by investing in voluntary family planning, the United States can “foster more peaceful, stable societies and improve maternal and child health, reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion, lower HIV infection rates, reduce poverty, enhance girls’ education, decrease hunger, and slow the depletion of natural resources.” PAI asks President Obama to:
One of the most interesting things about these two papers is that they both try to appeal to new constituencies by emphasizing population growth’s negative environmental and security impacts—although they also use more traditional humanitarian and women’s rights arguments, of course. It’s particularly interesting that PAI and PRB are continuing to employ environmental and security arguments even though the Obama administration is likely to be friendlier to the traditional rationales for funding family planning than the Bush administration was. Perhaps they think adding environmental protection and global stability to the mix will help them secure the funding increases they’re asking for? They may be right.
- Increase total U.S. FY 2010 spending on family planning and reproductive health to $1 billion;
- Rescind the Global Gag Rule/Mexico City Policy;
- Restore U.S. funding to the UN Population Fund; and
- Increase funding for programs to reduce maternal and child mortality, prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and improve the status of women.