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Family planning—it gives women, men, and families new opportunities and better futures, and it reduces (1) hunger, (2) strife, and (3) strain on the environment. The best part? Family planning saves lives.

A striking 215 million women want to plan their families but lack access to contraception. What will it cost? One billion dollars—it sounds like a lot of money, but it's approximately one-35th of 1% of President Obama’s proposed 2012 federal budget. Sounds too good to be true, right? It's not, and we are on our way there. In partnership with other organizations, EngenderHealth has been rallying support for Congress and President Obama to significantly increase funding for international family planning. And we are getting closer: The President’s proposed budget for 2012,which includes $769.1 million for international family planning, is another move in the right direction. At the same time, extreme voices in the U.S. House of Representatives are attempting to end all U.S. investment in family planning, even though it is vital for health, prosperity, and security.

March 2011 Update

On March 18, Congress passed another temporary stop-gap measure to avert a government shutdown, while the U.S. Senate continues to debate its version of the fiscal year 2011 spending bill. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives approved its version of the bill (H.R.1), which makes an unprecedented $60 billion in cuts from 2010 levels and $100 billion in cuts from President Obama’s budget. These cuts, if approved, would have an adverse impact on a number of domestic and global reproductive health programs. The bill proposes:

  • A 39% cut in President Obama’s FY 2011 request for bilateral international family planning and reproductive health funding, from $716 million to $440 million. This represents a $208.5 million reduction from current levels.
  • The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits any overseas organization receiving U.S. aid from having anything to do with abortion. When it was instituted in the past, the Global Gag Rule had detrimental consequences for the health and lives of women and their families, by creating more barriers to critical health services such as family planning, obstetric care, HIV testing, and malaria treatment. Prohibition of U.S. contributions to the United Nations Population Fund, an international development agency dedicated to promoting reproductive health and rights.
  • The complete elimination funding for Title X, a $317 million program signed into law in 1970 to cover family planning and reproductive health for low-income women in the United States. It is the only federal program dedicated to this end.
  • Barring Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding for any purpose, which would also adversely impact other vital aspects of women’s sexual and reproductive health, such as access to cancer screenings, sex education, and condoms.

Take action today by writing to your senators and urging them to reject cuts to reproductive health services that are critical to saving women’s lives.


The 2012 federal budget proposed by President Obama calls for investing $769.1 million in international family planning and reproductive health programs. This is a trend in the right direction, yet when adjusted for inflation, it is not much more than what we spent in 1974.

You read that correctly: 1974.

Meanwhile, millions of women and men in developing countries want to delay or limit births but lack access to contraception—and this demand is expected to grow 40% by 2050, as a record number of young people enter their reproductive years.

The United States is not the only country trying to address this. But right now, we simply are not pulling our weight, according to the Guttmacher Institute.


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Donate Now: Your support will help EngenderHealth improve family planning around the world!

What does it mean for the United States to help improve access to family planning?
Women and men share their experiences:

Learn how Almaz, a community health volunteer in Ethiopia, became an advocate and counselor for family planning in her community.

Read about Priscilla, a Kenyan nurse who has become a champion for the IUD in her community, after using the method herself for many years.

Meet Farzeli, a Muslim cleric in Azerbaijan who leads weekly information sessions on family planning at his mosque.

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© 2011 EngenderHealth, all rights reserved. Image credits for video and web site: M. Tuschman/EngenderHealth, B. Porter/EngenderHealth, A. Scotti/EngenderHealth, M. Smith/EngenderHealth, and C. Svingen/EngenderHealth; additional images are © iStockPhoto and the following artists: alexsl, DNY59, FourOaks, janrysavy, luoman, Matejay, MsLightBox, narvikk, peeterv, skodonnell, Terraxplorer, yesfoto, and zentilia; for additional images, the following applies: "The images used herein were obtained from IMSI's MasterClips® and MasterPhotos® Premium Image Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. East, San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, U.S.A."