family planning

Family planning is frequently used to mean that people plan when to have children, using birth control and other techniques to implement that plan. Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, preconceptional counseling and management, and infertility management.

Family planning is sometimes used as a synonym for the use of birth control, though it often includes more.

It is most usually applied to the circumstance of a monogamous female-male couple who wish to limit the number of children they have and/or to control the timing of pregnancy (also known as spacing children).


"FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES: Educational, comprehensive medical or social activities which enable individuals, including minors, to determine freely the number and spacing of their children and to select the means by which this may be achieved."

Planning Children

Raising a child uses significant amounts of resources: time, social, financial, environmental. Planning can help assure that resources are available.

Planning for Health

Waiting until mother is at least 18 years old before trying to have children improves maternal and child health.

If additional children are desired, it is healthier for both the mother and child to wait at least 2 years after the previous birth before attempting to conceive (but not more than 5 years). After a miscarriage or abortion, it is healthier to wait at least 6 months.


Childbirth and prenatal health care cost averaged $7,090 for normal delivery in the US in 1996. US Department of Agriculture estimates that a US family will spend an average of $11,000 to $23,000 per year for the first 17 years of child's life on a child born in 2007. (Total inflation adjusted estimated expenditure: $196,000 to $393,000, depending on household income.)



United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the world's largest international source of funding for population and reproductive health programs.

The main goals of the International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action are:

  • Universal access to reproductive health services by 2015
  • Universal primary education and closing the gender gap in education by 2015
  • Reducing maternal mortality by seventy-five percent by 2015
  • Reducing infant mortality
  • Increasing life expectancy
  • HIV infection rates in persons 15-24 years of age should be reduced by 25 percent in the most-affected countries by 2005 and by 25 percent globally by 2010.


China's one-child policy encourages couples to have no more than one child. China's population policy has been credited with a very significant slowing of China's population growth which had been very high before the policy was implemented. It has come under criticism that the implementation of the policy has involved forced abortions and forced sterilization. However, while the punishment of "Unplanned" pregnancy is a fine, both forced abortion and forced sterilization can be charged with intentional assault, which is punished with up to 10 years' imprisonment.

United States

Enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act, Title X provides access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to those in need. Priority for services is given to persons of low-income. The Title X Family Planning program is administered within the Office of Population Affairs within the Office of Public Health and Science. The Office of Family Planning directs Title X. In 2007, Congress appropriated roughly $283 million for family planning under Title X, at least 90 percent of which was used for services in family planning clinics. Title X is a vital source of funding for family planning clinics throughout the nation. Family planning clinics are very important in providing reproductive health care. The education and services supplied by the Title X-funded clinics support young individuals and low-income families. Goals of developing healthy families are accomplished by helping individuals and couples decide whether and when to have children. Titles X has made possible the prevention of unintended pregnancies. It has allowed millions of American women to receive necessary reproductive health care, plan their pregnancies and prevent abortions. Title X is dedicated exclusively to funding family planning and reproductive health care services.

Title X as a percentage of total public funding to family planning client services has steadily declined from 44% of total expenditures in 1980 to 12% in 2006. Medicaid has increased from 20% to 71% in the same time. In 2006, Medicaid contributed $1.3 billion to public family planning.


Another noted example is Iran, which has succeeded in sharply reducing its birth rate in recent years.


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