Citing statistics of tens-of-millions of unwanted pregnancies in the poorest countries, millions of abortions and tens-of-thousands of women dying in childbirth, the UN’s Population Fund has asserted that access to family planning and contraceptives is a Universal Human Right. Currently the number of women who have an unmet need for modern contraception is 222 million. It is reliably estimated that the use of birth control would prevent 218 million unintended pregnancies annually in developing countries, averting 55 million unplanned births, 138 million abortions, of which 40 million are unsafe, 25 million miscarriages and 118,000 maternal deaths.
The UN’s designation has outraged conservative and religious critics who accuse it of colonialism and of misguided policies that will infringe on basic rights and fob western drugs onto unsuspecting women. Some regard it as a sinister racially motivated attack by rich, chiefly white Western societies on the poorer, non-white parts of the planet.
Proponents of readily available contraception, such as PIC, have long argued that family planning is the most cost-effective means of reducing infant and maternal death, of enabling women to become educated, more gender equal, and more prosperous. It is also the best means of reducing abortions. As such, PIC has campaigned for family planning to be a significant and integral part of Canadian development assistance.