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Food, population and the post-2015 development agenda

July 21st, 2014

Food, population and the post-2015 development agenda 

See: https://www.devex.com/news/food-population-and-the-post-2015-development-agenda-83892

Meeting the growing demand for food may be the world’s single greatest challenge, but it is part of a much larger complex of problems, all relating to the overuse of our planet and, ultimately, to the larger challenge posed by population growth.

Addressing that challenge is both a moral and a global imperative. That’s why earlier this month, the Population Institute unveiled “Population by the Numbers,” a series of compelling factoids focusing on population and its implications for economic and human development.

As the United Nations prepares for its General Assembly in September, many questions remain about the new global development agenda that is emerging from high-level negotiations among world leaders. For the past 14 years, the Millennium Development Goals have played a leading role in shaping the international development agenda. But the MDGs expire at the end of next year and progress toward a post-2015 agenda has been kept tightly under wraps.

See: https://www.devex.com/news/food-population-and-the-post-2015-development-agenda-83892

The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights

June 16th, 2014
The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights
Excerpts of editorial by Marge Berer

See: http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(14)43775-3/fulltext

…I want to circle back and talk about “family planning” here, to add some perspectives in addition to what the papers in this journal issue provide. “Family planning” was out of the news for a long time after Cairo, for a whole generation in fact, but contrary to what you may have been told, people’s need to control their own fertility – and their considerable efforts to do so – never went away. Women and men need contraception and condoms now as much as they have ever done, and young people who are beginning to explore their sexuality need contraception and condoms more than anyone else – and are demanding them too. In 2008, 700-800 million women or couples (no figures available for men alone)7 around the worldwere using some form of contraception (why do people always talk about the ones who aren’t?) and some 43.8 million women had an abortion.8

Fertility control was not invented by FP2012; it has a history going back as far as history itself, as the pictures of IUDs past and present in Figure 1 show. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since “family planning” was promoted as the cure-all for the world’s ills in the 1960s. And, just as then, claims are again being made that it will save the world (and the environment too). Unfortunately, it didn’t then and it won’t now, and everyone needs to study/remember that history so that the same mistakes and the same narrow vision, affecting policy and programmes, are not repeated.

My generation of activists, researchers, service providers and policymakers, who brought their knowledge together at ICPD in 1994, got the world to recognise that the need for the means to control fertility was part of a much broader set of needs related to reproduction and sexuality, and that these were inextricably interconnected.

See: http://www.rhm-elsevier.com/article/S0968-8080(14)43775-3/fulltext

Advancing Sustainable Consumption and Production at the Global Scale

June 16th, 2014


The Over-arching problem:

Humanity is collectively over-exploiting the planet’s natural resources!

There is a growing international realization that humanity’s current demand for resources has exceeded planetary boundaries. Global patterns of consumption and production are becoming even more unsustainable as we proceed into the 21st century.  With over 7 billion people on the planet and rising levels of affluence, growing overshoot is degrading the planet’s ecological systems. Yet, these systems are fundamental to the long term well-being of humans and all other species with which we share the planet.  As stated in a recent UN report; “We must act now to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation, which pose unprecedented threats to humanity .”

To limit the outfall from overshoot, it would serve humanity to eliminate its over-use of Earth’s resources. It can be executed in an urgent, orderly, and equitable manner.  This means reducing the total quantity of natural resource goods and services that our species takes from the planet each year. It also means that we must plan future withdrawals more carefully.  In other words, our future resource demands must live within the planetary resource budget.

Associated Policy Deficits:

1.            No one is being held accountable for this collective over-consumption…

…yet those with lowest income bear the brunt of the risk

Nowhere in the design and practice of anthropogenic socio-economic systems is there accountability for humanity’s collective overuse of the planet’s finite natural resources.  There may be laws and market forces for businesses to encourage them to use their resources more efficiently.  There are some efforts to protect fisheries and forests from overuse. Some governments encourage businesses and organizations to “green” their operations and “decouple” their economic activities from consumption of natural resources. But there is no accountability for the absolute or collective use of natural resources.  Also, there is nothing inherent in the structural design of our economic systems that prevents us from collectively exceeding bio-physical limits.  Although we understand and pay attention to fiscal limitations and budgeting processes, we pay little attention to physical (natural resource) limitations and budgeting. Yet, this overuse weakens natural capital, and hurts people, most quickly those directly dependent on the specific natural capital stock.

2.            National development plans often do not consider the full quantity of natural resources needed to support societal development aspirations.

National development planning processes often ignore or pay insufficient attention to the total quantity of primary natural resources that are required to support the sustained well-being of the society as well as their future national development aspirations.  This is a compound risk since most nations are doing it at the same time, reducing the resource resilience for all. Consequently, as development proceeds, many nations are already over-using their natural resource assets putting themselves increasingly at risk and threatneing long-term well-being of their people, particularly the most vulnerable populations.  Although the need for fiscal budgeting is well understood, the analogous need for natural resource budgeting (at the national scale) is not well understood and usually not practiced.

Related Challenges:

A.            There is no political mandate for change.

With few exceptions, countries around the world are pursuing the same development strategy; increased prosperity through economic growth and development.  This “political mandate” consistently demands more jobs and improved well-being for all peoples, with only secondary consideration given to the availability of natural resources to maintain their levels of economic activities. They even lack basic natural resource accountability.  In other words there is little popular support for addressing the bio-physical realities of natural resource constraints, or to question the predominant “prosperity through growth” paradigm, even though some of the income growth may come at the cost of wealth depletion.

B.            Global governance is limited to voluntary compliance.

It is broadly understood that the authority of global governance (e.g. United Nations processes, conventions, and international accords) is very limited and that participation by UN member nations, in multilateral processes – as well as their compliance with international agreements – is generally not obligatory.  Although the UN has substantial communications ‘power’ and serves a valuable role in convening international discussions on development and global issues, it does not have the ability to manage the earth’s natural resource assets, nor any authority to do so.  The supply and use of the great majority of the planet’s natural resource goods and services are controlled by sovereign states (and greatly influenced by multinational corporations). It is unlikely, in the foreseeable future, that member countries will relinquish any of this sovereign control to any form of global authority.  Natural resource control and accountability, where it exists, will remain at the national or sub-national level.

C.            The global resource “overshoot” challenge is getting larger, not smaller.

Despite our many efforts to “decarbonize” or “green” our economies, human over-use of virtually all of the planet’s natural resource goods and services continues to trend upward.  Although we continue to make relative improvements in our use of natural resources per unit of economic activity, absolute “decoupling” is not occurring.  In fact, the reverse is true.  Jevon’s paradox is playing out at the global scale.  Although humanity has established a long “track-record” of reducing resource intensity per unit of GDP, our absolute consumption of primary natural resources becomes larger with every passing year.

Related conditions:

1.            Humanity’s collective over-consumption challenge is hard to see.

Popular support and a political mandate for change is usually achievable only after people fully recognize and understand the need for change.  For example, burning rivers and blackened skies – easily observable by the average US citizen in the 1970s – demonstrated an obvious and compelling need for creating a new environmental protection agency and promulgating legislation to change our waste discharge practices.  In contrast, collective global overuse of the planet’s natural resources is a problem that is not readily observable by the average global citizen in their everyday lives.  This lack of immediate “visibility” of the global resource challenge hampers the development of goals and strategies for sustainable living.

2.            United Nation’s development processes usually evolve more slowly than human induced changes in the bio-physical world.

Although there is a growing awareness that today’s human development and environmental challenges call for transformational changes, the reality we must accept (and work with) is that global political process are generally evolutionary and do not readily lend themselves to transformational change.

3.            The SDGs will ultimately be driven by political mandates not physical necessity.

Although there has been a clear and ever present call for transparency and full stakeholder participation, and the OWG has diligently pursued the active involvement of non-governmental entities in their SDG design and development work, the fact remains that the post-2015 development agenda will ultimately be negotiated ‘behind closed doors’ and will be approved using an administrative process to avoid political gridlocks.  First on the minds of the UN member nations, and the delegates to the OWG, will be goals and programs to improve the human condition.  They will vigorously defend their country’s universal “right to development.”  Also, the “political mandate” will not seriously question the prevailing but somewhat outdated development paradigm of “prosperity through (endless) economic growth”, and it will, in all likelihood, not entertain significant structural changes in global economic institutions and processes.  These discussions do not recognize that natural capital accountability is the only way to secure the “right to development” and that ecological overshoot is primarily anti-poor.


Since countries who understand their natural resource budget will be economically more successful and resilient, we recommend that countries establish resource accounts that can compare demand against availability. Recognizing this reality as well as the over-arching problems and relatively incontrovertible challenges and conditions, our strategy for incorporating global scale SCP into the SDGs is as follows:

Promote the natural resource budgeting  and reporting mechanism to country delegations based upon compelling ‘self-interest’ economic development arguments. This would require the establishment of resource accounting that helps to evaluate countries’ resource sufficiency.

An economic development argument might sound something like this:

In contrast to the end of the 20th century, natural resource costs are now becoming an increasingly significant economic factor for most nations, and this significance will only grow as resource demands increase.  Natural resource demands are now so high that many resource assets are being overexploited, particularly in the water-energy-food nexus.  When resource demands stretch or exhaust bio-physical capacity, the resulting price spikes can reduce productivity and curtail economic growth. 

By adopting resource accounting that can evaluate a country’s resource sufficiency, countries can proactively address resource constraints and better plan for their economic future.  Nations that understand their resource limitations and reduce their reliance on scarce resources acquire a competitive edge. On the other hand, nations that fail to anticipate resource supply risks are highly vulnerable to economic disruption and can waste valuable capital on rising resource expenditures.

Resource accounting that compares bio-physical demand to availability can also be promoted as a mechanism that provides valuable ‘front-end’ information for effective national policy design and decision making, as well as a reporting mechanism that can help build political support for ministers and other government officials to address the tough policy decisions that may be needed in the future to create a more sustainable national future.  Such resource accounting also enables countries to determine whether their goals related to absolute economic ‘decoupling’ are actually being achieved.

The arguments for such resource accounting which pertain to natural resource accountability at the global scale will only be emphasized to potential accounting advocates who work primarily in the international development arena.


The over-all objective – admittedly incremental rather than transformational because of political barriers – is simply to have all nations of the world begin to consider the implications of bio-physical realities of their natural resource assets, including demand against availability for the well-being of their citizens and their human development aspirations.  If we can accomplish this much, and all countries begin to do establish such accounting at the national scale (and in a globally standardized manner), then we can begin to deal with the over-arching global scale problem.

A preliminary list of suggested targets is provided below for discussion purposes:

GOAL:  Conduct resource accounting and natural resource sufficiency evaluations at the country level and integrate them into national plans for achieving sustainable production and consumption.

Target 1A:  By 2016, 5 countries will have developed pilot approaches of accounts that comprehensively evaluate resource demand against availability. By 2016, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in conjunction with UNDESA will have reviewed these country experiences and outlined ways on how they can be incorporated  into the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).

Target 1B:  By 2017, 25 countries will have completed and published their national resource sufficiency evaluation, with technical support from UNEP and UNDESA being available upon request.

Target 1C:  By 2019, all countries will have drafted – using the information derived from their respective annual national resource evaluations and link them to their plans for achieving sustainable production and consumption over the next 10 years. 

Target 1D:  By 2020, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in conjunction with UNDESA are developing guidelines and standards supporting all nations to have consistent, reliable, high-quality resource accounting frameworks that can comprehensively compare resource demand against availability and enable countries to engage in resource budgeting.


What is a resource sufficiency evaluation?

Sufficient quantities of natural resources (e.g. fresh water, energy, or the natural and economically useful products of land and marine ecosystems such as wood, crops, or fish) are essential for human well-being and development.  Comprehensive resource accounting is a means of comparing each nation’s natural resource demands with the capacity of natural ecosystems to meet these demands.  Scientifically-based accounting methodologies are already available to conduct resource sufficiency evaluations in a universally applicable manner.  These methodologies, and the bio-physical ‘balance sheets’ that are generated, will give policy makers and the public a clearer understanding of ecological sustainability and what is needed to achieve it.

Scientists vindicate ‘Limits to Growth’ – urge investment in ‘circular economy’

June 9th, 2014
Scientists vindicate ‘Limits to Growth’ – urge investment in ‘circular economy’
Early warning of civilisational collapse by early to mid 21st century startlingly prescient – but opportunity for transition open

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/04/scientists-limits-to-growth-vindicated-investment-transition-circular-economy

According to a new peer-reviewed scientific report, industrial civilisation is likely to deplete its low-cost mineral resources within the next century, with debilitating impacts for the global economy and key infrastructures within the coming decade.

The study, the 33rd report to the Club of Rome, is authored by Prof Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence’s Earth Sciences Department, and includes contributions from a wide range of senior scientists across relevant disciplines.

The Club of Rome is a Swiss-based global think tank consisting of current and former heads of state, UN bureaucrats, government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists and business leaders.

Its first report in 1972, The Limits to Growth, was conducted by a scientific team at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), and warned that limited availability of natural resources relative to rising costs would undermine continued economic growth by around the second decade of the 21st century.

Although widely ridiculed, recent scientific reviews confirm that the original report’s projections in its ‘base scenario’ remain robust. In 2008,Australia’s federal government scientific research agency CSIROconcluded that The Limits to Growth forecast of potential “global ecological and economic collapse coming up in the middle of the 21st Century” due to convergence of “peak oil, climate change, and food and water security”, is “on-track.” Actual current trends in these areas “resonate strongly with the overshoot and collapse displayed in the book’s ‘business-as-usual scenario.’”

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/04/scientists-limits-to-growth-vindicated-investment-transition-circular-economy

New Kenyan Population Policy a Model for Other Countries

June 3rd, 2014

New Kenyan Population Policy a Model for Other Countries

See: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2014/kenyan-population-policy.aspx

(March 2014) In 2012, the government of Kenya passed a landmark policy to manage its rapid population growth. The new population policy aims to reduce the number of children a woman has over her lifetime from 5 in 2009 to 3 by 2030.2 The policy also includes targets for child mortality, maternal mortality, life expectancy, and other reproductive health measures.

Participatory Process a Formula for Success

Between 1999 and 2009, Kenya’s population added 1 million people every year, growing to 41 million, and was expected to hit 77 million by 2030.1

Kenya’s long-term development plan, known as Vision 2030, recognizes that rapid population growth could severely derail progress in reaching its primary goal: To achieve a high quality of life for all Kenyans that is sustainable with available resources.3 The National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), under the Ministry of Planning, National Development, and Vision 2030, initiated a series of consultations to achieve a population policy that would bolster this vision. Although Kenya has made great strides in increasing contraceptive coverage, from 27 percent in 1989 to 46 percent in 2009, concerns over worsening unemployment, food shortages, and a large youth population threaten Kenya’s economic future.4

See: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2014/kenyan-population-policy.aspx

Re-Examining the Global Barriers to Reproductive Freedom

April 21st, 2014

Re-Examining the Global Barriers to Reproductive Freedom
See: http://blog.populationinstitute.org/2014/04/17/re-examining-the-global-barriers-to-reproductive-freedom/

Every woman in the world should be able to space or limit her births. At a minimum, that means every woman should have access to the contraceptive method of her choice, whether it’s a female condom, birth control pills, an IUD, sterilization or a long-acting injectable. But physical access to contraception does not guarantee reproductive freedom. For many women in the developing world the real barrier to the exercise of reproductive choice is male opposition, religious teachings, social norms, or misinformation about contraceptive options.

There has always been some truth to the idea that supply creates its own demand: make modern contraceptives more available and more women will want to use them. But in male-dominated societies where religious teachings or social norms promote large families, there are practical limits to how far supply will drive demand. And that’s particularly true in areas where child marriage is still prevalent. When a girl is married at an early age, and her husband demands a large family, the mere availability of contraceptives does not guarantee that she can exercise reproductive choice. In societies where violence against women is widespread the exercise of reproductive freedom can even result in physical violence or even death.

The problem is, and it’s a significant one, is that countries with the highest fertility rates and the lowest rates of contraceptive use tend to be male-dominated societies where gender inequality prevails and religious teachings or social norms dictate larger families. Add to that ignorance or misinformation about contraceptive options, and women, in practice, may have little or no reproductive choice… even if modern methods of contraception are available. Girl brides, in particular, seldom exercise any real degree of reproductive freedom; any decision about childbearing is effectively out of their control.

Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), commissioned by USAID, underscore the scale of the problem. In Ethiopia, where women still have nearly five children on average, the 2005 DHS reported that less than 1 percent of young married women (ages 15-24) not using contraception cited lack of access to a contraceptive method as their reason for non-use. In fact, nearly one out of four said they wanted to have as many children as possible. 7.1 percent cited male opposition to contraception as a reason for non-use; 14.3 percent cited religious opposition. 12.8 percent reported health concerns or fear of side effects as their reason for non-use, and 16.9 percent indicated lack of knowledge.

Similar results are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The 2008-09 DHS in Kenya found that only 1.2 percent of married women (age 15-49) reported cost or lack of access as a reason for non-use of contraceptives. More than three out of ten cited health concerns (14.9 percent) or fear of side effects (15.8 percent) as their reason for non-use, while 9.0 percent cited religious prohibition and 6.0 percent attributed their non-use to their husband’s opposition.

In Sierra Leone, where women on average have five children, the 2008-9 DHS found that only 1.6 percent of married women (ages 15-49) attributed their non-use of contraceptives to cost or lack of access. One out of seven (14.4 percent) reported male opposition as their reason for non-use, while 9.3 percent cited religious prohibition. In Mauritania the most recent DHS survey indicated that one out of four women not using contraceptives were deterred by religious prohibitions. In Liberia, Ghana, and Uganda, a fear of side effects stops one out of four non-users from using contraception.

These findings do not diminish the importance of ensuring that women in developing countries have access to a wide array of contraceptives. As contraceptives become more widely available and women become more informed as to the benefits of spacing births, more women will opt to use a contraceptive method. But in many countries the cultural or informational barriers to contraceptive use loom much larger.

The United Nations has declared that access to reproductive health services is a universal right and, as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG5b), it set 2015 as the target year for achieving universal access. The target will not be met. While the MDGs have achieved great success in many areas, progress with respect to maternal and reproductive health has been disappointing. Any hope of achieving universal access to reproductive health care anytime soon will require much greater investments on the part of donor countries.

But it will take more than expanded access to contraceptive services to ensure that all women are capable of spacing or limiting their pregnancies. So long as a woman’s reproductive freedom is constrained by her husband’s opposition, religious prohibitions, or misinformation, she will not be fully capable of exercising that freedom. And because reproductive choice is so important to a woman, her family, and her community, the empowerment of girls and women – a high priority in its own right – takes on added importance.

Jonathon Porritt — Population: Still the Big Taboo

February 27th, 2014

Population: Still the Big Taboo

See: http://www.jonathonporritt.com/blog/population-still-big-taboo

I’ve been pre-occupied with the overlap between population and the environment ever since I read the Ecologist’s ‘Blueprint for Survival’ in the early 1970s. I’ve campaigned assiduously for progressive family planning programmes since that time on, just as I have for environmental and social justice issues. It’s always been a no-bloody-brainer that the two go hand in hand.

That’s not the case for the majority of people in the environment movement. For most of the big NGOs in the UK, population has either been completely off-limits or grudgingly acknowledged as an important area of concern but not one in which they feel any need to get actively involved. Throughout that time, the intellectual and moral disconnect has, for me, been startling. And it still is.

A few months ago, as a Patron of Population Matters, I teamed up with my good friend Robin Maynard (who is as baffled by this disconnect as I am) to invite the eight leading environmental NGOs in the UK to review their position. Guided by the headline conclusion from the Royal Society’s ground-breaking ‘People and Planet’ Report in 2012 (“Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues”), we asked them whether they would be prepared to commit to the following six actions:

Accept and promote the findings of the Royal Society’s People and Planet Report that population and consumption must be considered as indivisible, linked issues;

Acknowledge publicly and actively communicate the crucial relevance of population to your organisation’s mission and objectives;
Support and advocate the principle of universal access to safe, affordable family planning for all women throughout the world;

Call on the Government to act on the findings of the Royal Society’s Report and draw up a national population policy;
To use your organisation’s considerable policy resources, voice and influence to speak and engage members of the wider public in an intelligent, informed and honest debate about population;
Include the population factor in all relevant communications and policy pronouncements.
Hardly a revolutionary manifesto – but you might have thought the sky had fallen in. Lengthy delays, prevarication, excuses, weasel words – that was our reality for the next few months. The responses confirmed all our worst fears, and with the honourable exception of Friends of the Earth (that has now developed a new and rather more progressive position on population, which – to be completely fair – is a much better position than the organisation had when I was its Director back in the 1980s), they’re all pretty much where they were four decades ago. Despite a massive increase in human numbers and a correspondingly massive deterioration in the state of our physical environment.

In the interests of transparency, Robin and I have therefore decided to publish summaries of all the responses, based on which we’ve produced a ranking of the best to the worst. (SEE PRESS RELEASE, REPORT AND BRIEFINGS HERE)

1. Friends of the Earth
2. The Wildlife Trusts
4. Greenpeace
6. Wildfowl and Wetland Trust
7. National Trust

As you can imagine, I take no pleasure in those findings, but my continuing anger on this score remains proportionate to that sense of collective blindness on the part of organisations that for the most part I respect and love.

Family planning versus contraception: what’s in a name?

February 14th, 2014

Family planning versus contraception: what’s in a name?
By Marleen Temmerman, Dr María Isabel Rodríguez and Dr Lale Say
See: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(13)70177-3/fulltext

The 20-year anniversary of the 1994 International Conference of Population Development (ICPD) Programme of Action and the upcoming 15-year anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals provide an opportunity to think about the global development agenda, including progress made and any remaining challenges. Although development has been referred to as the best contraceptive, the reverse link is neglected-ie, that sexual and reproductive rights and health facilitate development.1

Reproductive and sexual health is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities. Contraceptive choice is essential to promote the health of individuals and enable development. Contraception has direct health benefits, such as prevention of unintended pregnancy and, subsequently, decreased maternal mortality and morbidity. Women with unintended pregnancies that are continued to term are more likely to receive inadequate or delayed prenatal care and have poorer health outcomes, such as low infant birthweight, infant mortality, and maternal mortality and morbidity, than have those with planned pregnancies.2-6 These risks of unintended pregnancy are increased for adolescents and girls.7, 8 Adolescents are at increased risk of medical complications with pregnancy, and are often forced to make compromises in education and employment, which can lead to poverty and low educational attainment.7,9-11

This information is not new. A large amount of the published work supports the fundamental role that sexual and reproductive health information and services have in the promotion of health, attainment of human rights, and sustainable development. However, poor sexual and reproductive health is a major component of global morbidity and mortality, and disturbing inequities exist in the burden of disability.12 Nearly 20 years after ICPD and 15 years after the Millennium Development Goals, the world lags far behind its objective of universal access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. A radical shift is needed to accelerate progress.

To read the full op-ed, please click here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(13)70177-3/fulltext

Ptolemaic Environmentalism

February 11th, 2014

Ptolemaic Environmentalism

The ancient Greek word oecumene came into broad circulation in the Hellenistic era to refer to the inhabited world. It was a world that stretched from the Mediterranean basin to India, and from the Caucasus mountains to the Arabian Peninsula, encompassing diverse peoples and cultures connected via trade routes and empire, building alliances and conquests. By “the inhabited world,” oecumene of course meant the world inhabited by people. What the concept implied by exclusion, by what it passed over in silence, is that nonhumans do not inhabit. Only people are inhabitants, while animals, plants, and the natural communities they create merely exist in certain places—until they are forced to make way for, or be converted to serve, the oecumene.

See: www.eileencrist.com/images/pdf/Crist_PtolemaicEnvironmentalism_Final.pdf

Population Institute: Report card on reproductive health and rights in the U.S.

January 14th, 2014

U.S. overall receives “C-” second year in a row
Only 17 states receive “B-”or higher; 13 states receive failing grade

See: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/population-institute-releases-2013-report-card-on-reproductive-health-and-rights-239154781.html

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Population Institute today released its second annual report card on reproductive health and rights in the U.S., and the results were not encouraging. Thirteen states receive a failing grade, and the U.S. as a whole received a “C-.”

In releasing the report card, Robert Walker, the organization’s President, said, “This year we have seen a lot of victories at the national level, but with states limiting the full scope of that progress. The major victories include: HHS ruling that Plan B One Step be made available over the counter without an age restriction, the Affordable Care Act giving women access to family planning services without a co-pay requirement, and expanded Medicaid eligibility ensuring that millions more women would be eligible to access reproductive health services. Unfortunately, at the state level, attacks on reproductive health care have continued unabated and 25 states have refused to expand their Medicaid program denying millions of women access to health care.”

While Congress has rejected efforts by social conservatives to de-fund family planning programs, several states are drastically reducing their funding for family planning and restricting funding to Planned Parenthood and other providers of contraceptive services. Walker warned that, “While opposition to abortion is driving these political assaults, putting family planning clinics out of business will only increase the number of unwanted pregnancies and, as a consequence, the number of abortions being performed.”

Using nine criteria, the Institute’s report card ranked each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

  • Thirty percent of the grade is based on measures of effectiveness. This includes the latest available data on the teenage pregnancy rate (15%) and the rate of unintended pregnancies (15%).
  • Twenty percent of the grade is based upon prevention. This includes mandated comprehensive sex education in the schools (15%) and access to emergency contraception (5%).
  • Thirty percent of the grade is based upon affordability. This includes if states are expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (10%), Medicaid eligibility rules for family planning (10%), and funding for family planning clinics serving low-income families (10%).
  • The final twenty percent of the grade is based upon clinic access. This includes abortion restrictions (10%) and percent of women living in a county without an abortion provider (10%).

Based upon their scores, each state received a “core” grade (A, B, C, D or F), but some states received an additional “plus” or a “minus” for factors not reflected in the core grade, such as pending changes or legislation.

Only seventeen states received a B- or higher. Just four states (California, Maryland, Oregon and Washington) received an “A”. Oregon received the highest composite score. Thirteen states received a failing grade (“F”). States receiving a failing grade included Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Walker said, “The Affordable Care Act this year should have produced a nationwide improvement in access to reproductive health care services, but 25 states have refused to expand their Medicaid coverage leaving millions without increased access to services. It is imperative that people who care about reproductive health and rights know what states are doing in terms of expanded Medicaid eligibility.”

In issuing the report, Walker warned that the status of reproductive health and rights in many states is under continuing assault. According to the Guttmacher Institute states have enacted 106 provisions relating to reproductive health including abortion, family planning funding, and sex education in just the first six months of 2013. While the assault on women’s reproductive health may be losing some momentum at the state level, Walker warned that “Reproductive health advocates must remain ever vigilant.”

For a copy of the report, including a state-by-state breakdown, visit the Population Institute’s website www.populationinstitute.org/reportcard . For questions about the report, call Jennie Wetter, Director of Public Policy, at (202) 544-3300×108.

Jennie Wetter, jwetter@populationinstitute.org, (202) 544-3300×108
Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com, (914) 589-5988


2010/2011 Annual Report

In 2010-2011, PMC had projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Caribbean, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the United States, Vietnam and a worldwide electronic game.

2010/2011 Annual Report (PDF, 5.5 MB)

Soap Operas for Social Change to Prevent HIV/AIDS

This training guide is designed to be used by journalists and media personnel to plan and execute the production and broadcast of Sabido-style entertainment-education serial dramas for HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among women and girls.

Using the Media to Achieve Reproductive Health and Gender Equity

In 2005, as a companion piece to the training guide, PMC developed a manual documenting best practices in the application of the Sabido methodology of behavior change via entertainment-education.

Read more about these guides and download »