Everybody in the world should have access to contraception, says the United Nations Population Fund. By simply helping women space and limit the number of children will add billions of dollars to the world economy, improve global health, increase women's education (which in turn boosts economic output) and save lives.
This week, the agency released its yearly report, The State of the World Population 2012. It quickly recommends voluntary family planning for everyone in developing countries, and says the upshot would be a savings of $11.3 billion dollars in health costs annually for mothers and their newborns.
The recommendation for family planning does not include abortion.
In fact, the agency says in 2012, there will be an estimated 80 million unintended pregnancies. Half of them will probably end in abortion. If contraception were widely available, 54 million unintended pregnancies would be averted, and there would be an estimated 26 million fewer abortions.
UNFPA chief Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin says "family planning is not a privilege, but a right. Yet too many women - and men - are denied this human right." The Associated Press says it's the first time the U.N. Population Fund has made this declaration.
UNFPA's report says it can point to contraception's positive results by looking at developing countries in Asia. The effort led to an increase in the numbers of older people who depend on younger people for economic support: "That change was a consequence of family planning and brought increased productivity, leading to economic development in the region."