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Letters To Editor Address Women’s Reproductive Rights, Global Population, Family Planning

The Guardian: Letters: Respecting women’s rights and the planet key to family planning
Arthur Erken, director for the division of communications and strategic partnerships at UNFPA, and Robin Maynard, director at Population Matters

“I read with interest your editorial … The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) strongly agrees that ‘crude attempts to raise and lower birthrates are unlikely to produce sustainable solutions.’ Instead, they are more likely to violate internationally agreed human rights standards and cost women their freedom or lives. UNFPA promotes the view that family planning should always be firmly based on the right of all individuals to control their fertility and therefore determine freely the number of their children, which your sensible recommendations on education and empowerment of women and greater access to family planning support. … [Meeting the demand for access to modern contraception] requires a collective will and funding to provide women with the means to exercise their right to determine their family size” (Erken, 6/7).

“Your editorial on the implications of family size and population erroneously bought into the narrow economic narrative that this is simply an issue of productivity, resources, and dependency ratios. It is partly about those things — but far more importantly and fundamentally it is about our planetary crisis. … Everyone on Earth deserves a fair, sustainable share of our planet’s resources — but that human right will only be possible if we learn to moderate both our numbers and consumption. Yes, there are challenges associated with lowering birthrate and promoting smaller families. Those are infinitely easier to solve than the environmental devastation exacerbated by the increasing billions of people on our finite planet. This is solvable through ethical, non-coercive means and the available technology of family planning — but only if we grasp the nettle now and take positive action” (Maynard, 6/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.