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United Nations Report Calls Family Planning an 'Essential Human Right' for First Time

United Nations Report Calls Family Planning an 'Essential Human Right' for First Time

November 15, 2012 — The United Nations Population Fund on Wednesday in its annual report stated that family planning is an "essential human right," The Hill's "Global Affairs" reports (Pecquet, "Global Affairs," The Hill, 11/14).

The report marks the first time UNFPA has specifically stated that access to family planning is a basic right that is infringed upon by cultural, financial and legal factors (AP/New York Times, 11/14).

The report added that allocating an additional $4.1 billion annually to provide universal access to family planning worldwide would reduce maternal and newborn health costs by $11.3 billion annually.

Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA, in a statement on the report said, "Family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development," adding, "Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive" ("Global Affairs," The Hill, 11/14).

Reaction to Report

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), said, "What the presidential election result means is that millions of women here in the United States will continue to receive family planning services through Planned Parenthood, and the United States will continue to fund the important programs of the U.N. Population Fund" (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 11/14).

Conservatives have long criticized UNFPA's operations in China because of the nation's one-child policy ("Global Affairs," The Hill, 11/14). The report did not address accounts of forced abortions or sterilizations by Chinese officials. However, lead author Margaret Greene said on a conference call with reporters, "UNFPA is very, very strongly committed to the right of individuals to choose family planning when they want to use it, and it works closely with the Chinese government to ensure that the national family planning program is as voluntary as possible."

Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow at the conservative Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, took issue with the report, saying it is "another way of saying that any disagreement is to be squelched; that freedom of religion and freedom of speech are irrelevant when family planning 'rights' are at stake."

Susan Cohen, director of government affairs at the Guttmacher Institute, said, "Forcing a woman to terminate a pregnancy that she wants is clearly wrong but so is forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy that she does not want" (Washington Times, 11/14).