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Family Planning: An Essential Health Service Here and Everywhere

Wonderful to see Anu Kumar, vice president of Ipas, critiquing the bordering-on absurd contradictions between the United States government’s domestic and global policy on family planning in her recent Huffington Post article, “Does the U.S. Care about Women? That Depends on Where They Live.” Kumar points to the controversial determination by the US Department of Health and Human Services that contraception is not considered preventive care for women, and, therefore, will not be among the list of services new private health insurers are required to cover without charging consumers a co-pay. Meanwhile the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has been providing women in developing countries with affordable or no-cost access to a range of contraceptive methods for many decades because as the USAID-funded Population Reference Bureau publication states, Family Planning Saves Lives.

Here at IntraHealth International, we recognize that family planning services should always be central to any country’s “basic primary care package.” We also know that when contraceptive services are not subsidized by the state, it is the poor women—no matter what country they reside in—who often cannot afford these services and therefore go without, making them disproportionately at risk of unwanted pregnancies. That is why for the last 30 years IntraHealth has been collaborating with government health ministries to build strong preventive care services, including family planning, in the countries where we work, with the support of USAID and other private donors. In fact we consider family planning services so essential that in countries that rank near the bottom of the development indexes, we work with ministries to ensure that couples can access these services free of charge so that no woman who wants family planning services or contraceptives goes without because she can’t afford them.

Although IntraHealth works mainly in developing countries, we stand in solidarity with our colleagues here in the United States who are working to ensure that all women here have access to affordable family planning services. You can support this work today by signing a petition demanding health insurance plans offer no-cost birth control. This petition is part of the Birth Control Matters campaign, launched yesterday by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.