U.N. Declares Birth Control A "Human Right"

“Family planning is a human right. It must therefore be available to all who want it.”

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Access to contraception isn’t just a privilege, it’s a basic human right, the United Nations says in its Population Fund’s annual report, which came out on Wednesday. Lack of access to contraception, the report finds, is an economic barrier that can hinder economic opportunity and growth.

While access to birth control has recently been a hotly debated topic in the United States, the report focuses mostly on developing countries and the need for contraception in the world’s poorest countries.

The report reads:

“Recent statistics show that 867 million women of childbearing age in developing countries have a need for modern contraceptives. Of that total, 645 million have access to them. But a staggering 222 million still do not. This is inexcusable. Family planning is a human right. It must therefore be available to all who want it. But clearly this right has not yet been extended to all, especially in the poorest countries.”

While the U.N. has supported access to contraception before, this is reportedly the first time the organization has explicitly called family planning a “human right.”

3. This chart from the report shows just how great the need for contraception is in developing countries.

4. In developing countries, 82% of unintended pregnancies are caused by a lack of access to modern contraception.

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