Universal access to contraception must be top priority

Sustainable Population Australia

Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has given its full support to the UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA’s) World Contraception Day (26 September) and calls on all governments to provide affordable modern contraception to everyone who needs it.

According to UNFPA, where contraception is readily available, ‘maternal death and disability, newborn/child mortality and morbidity, unintended pregnancies … and abortion all decrease’.

SPA national president Ms Jenny Goldie says this is, first and foremost, a human rights’ issue.

“Women must be allowed control over their own bodies,” says Ms Goldie. “They must be able to control when, or indeed if, they have children.

“Sometimes women cannot control whether they have sex or not so it is imperative that they not have to carry an unwanted pregnancy.”

The UNFPA estimates around 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe, modern methods of contraception. Of these women, 172 million use no method at all.

“We have to change cultural practices such that women are not prevented by their husbands or in-laws from using contraception,” says Ms Goldie. “Often modern contraception is available but women feel too stigmatised, or are simply ignorant about what is involved, to take advantage of its availability.

“Half the pregnancies in the world are unintended. Many of the children subsequently born are unwanted or their parents cannot care for them. This is untenable. All children must be loved and wanted, as well as parents having the means to care for them.

“The world continues to grow by more than 80 million a year. As we face growing food crises through war or climate change, we must reduce our numbers as soon as possible to reduce demand for food. Providing universal access to contraception and removing cultural bias is the best means of achieving stabilisation.”

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