On Family Planning, the U.S. Faces International Isolation

As if the rest of its international agenda weren’t unpopular enough, the Bush administration is further isolating itself from the global community with its positions on family planning and women’s reproductive rights in developing countries. To appease its socially conservative political base at home, the administration has proposed language in international agreements that stresses abstinence over contraception — language opposed by an overwhelming majority of other countries and NGOs. A recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, an international reproductive-rights organization, found that unmet contraceptive needs in developing countries are responsible for 52 million unwanted pregnancies each year, resulting in 1.5 million maternal deaths and more than 500,000 motherless children. Despite this evidence, the Bush administration renewed its push for abstinence language at a U.N. meeting last week that marked the 10th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. The National Wildlife Federation’s Caron Whitaker was at the gathering and sent daily dispatches, which you can read — you guessed it — only on the Grist Magazine website.