For Immediate Release
Diane Quest, 202-973-4851
Bush Administration Withholds Birth Control, Putting Women in Africa in Serious Jeopardy
WASHINGTON - Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is appalled by the Bush administration's latest move to put women's lives in danger by withholding contraceptives, a critical family planning resource, from women in six African countries. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is mandating that several African governments terminate a program that allows Marie Stopes International (MSI), one of the world's leading family planning organizations, to provide contraceptives in those countries.
"We know that family planning saves women's lives and protects their health," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. "These women already face legal restrictions and harsh gender inequalities. Further limiting their access to health care puts them at risk of harm resulting from unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion and childbirth, and sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS."
This administration already has severely limited family planning funding to developing countries through its global gag rule, which mandates that no U.S. family planning assistance funding can be given to organizations that provide abortion services, offer counseling and referral for abortion care, or advocate legal abortion access in their own countries - even if they do so with their own funds. Domestically, the administration is moving forward with a regulation that would allow health care providers to withhold critical health information and services from women.
The new USAID mandate will seriously disrupt family planning programs in at least six African countries - Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Women in these countries will be left with few options and could end up turning to unsafe abortion services, which can result in their death or disability.
There are an estimated 137 million women in the developing world who are not using a contraceptive method. According to the World Bank, maternal mortality would drop by 25-35 percent if those women had access to adequate family planning services.
Improved access to birth control, pre- and post-natal care, and HIV prevention, testing, and counseling, among other services, can improve gender equality, maternal health, and child survival; reduce poverty; and allow women to take control of their lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 880 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. We also work with allies worldwide to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.