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Addressing Global Health, Economic, and Environmental Problems Through Family Planning

Speidel, J. Joseph MD, MPH; Grossman, Richard A. MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31821a1411
Current Commentary

Although obstetrician–gynecologists recognize the importance of managing fertility for the reproductive health of individuals, many are not aware of the vital effect they can have on some of the world's most pressing issues. Unintended pregnancy is a key contributor to the rapid population growth that in turn impairs social welfare, hinders economic progress, and exacerbates environmental degradation. An estimated 215 million women in developing countries wish to limit their fertility but do not have access to effective contraception. In the United States, half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Voluntary prevention of unplanned pregnancies is a cost-effective, humane way to limit population growth, slow environmental degradation, and yield other health and welfare benefits. Family planning should be a top priority for our specialty.

Family planning can help ameliorate some of the world's most pressing health, environmental, and economic problems.

From the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California; and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Colorado, Durango, Colorado.

Portions of this commentary are reprinted from Speidel JJ, Grossman RA. Family planning and access to safe and legal abortion are vital to safeguard the environment. Contraception 2007;76:415–7.

Corresponding author: Richard A. Grossman, MD, MPH, FACOG, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Colorado, 1 Mercado Street, Suite 105, Durango, CO 81301; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2011 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.