In response to a New York Times editorial by columnist Ross Douthat, Population Council Vice President and Distinguished Scholar John Bongaarts pens a letter to the editor promoting women's ability to plan their own futures and the work of international family planning organizations to help make that possible.
Bongaarts notes that international family planning organizations promote women's ability to plan their own reproductive futures, both because it's their fundamental right, and because it improves outcomes for them, their families, and their communities.
Ross Douthat reinforces a false narrative that undermines today’s international family-planning programs, which seek to ensure that women can exercise their right to choose if, when and how many children to have. These groups are helping produce better outcomes for women and their families, including lower maternal mortality and greater economic opportunities.
Birthrates do indeed remain high in many low- and middle-income countries, but many of these births are unintended. In contrast, in high-income countries, birthrates are lower than women desire. The policy prescription everywhere should be the same: Help women do what they want.
In Africa and around the world, women should be ensured universal access to effective contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions and enable them to live the lives they want. Governments and employers should also make it easier for women to combine childbearing and a career.
When women have the opportunity to plan their futures, everyone benefits.
Read more at the New York Times.