(August 2015) "Family planning saves lives" is a simple health prescription that resonates globally. A critical challenge is to ensure that policies and programs embrace the well-established benefits of enabling women to choose whether and when to become pregnant—actions and values that are integral to human rights. Policymakers should be asking, "What do human rights mean in relation to family planning, how do we incorporate them into our country family planning and development plans, and why is that important?"
This brief, drawing from human rights treaties and covenants that have the status of international law, clarifies key human rights principles and outlines policy actions that must be taken to ensure that voluntary family planning programs result in contraceptive use based on full, free, and informed choice. It is also consistent with the rights and empowerment principles of Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), a global partnership that grew out of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning.
Karen Newman is an international development consultant on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs is program director for Gender at PRB.