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Pregnancy and childbirth: It's a woman's right to choose

Posted by Sara Cowan Campaigns and Activism Co-ordinator

5th Jul 2012

It's good to have a choice. Whether it's between tea or coffee, chocolate or fruit and condoms or the Pill.

In fact when it comes to planning a family it's not just good that we have a choice; here in the UK it's something we now take for granted.  We can sit down and talk to our local GP or nurse about what works for us, our lifestyle and our relationships.  The choice to decide what's right for our body should be ours.

But millions of women (in fact 215 million, if you can imagine what that number looks like?!) around the world don't have access to modern contraception methods or the choice of when to get pregnant. And a staggering 1,000 women needlessly die every day as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

Women must be given every opportunity to assert their right to decide when they get pregnant. From young women forced into early marriage to mothers who want to avoid unwanted pregnancy, it has to be the right of every woman to choose.

It's good news, therefore, that on 11 July David Cameron is hosting a global summit to discuss the investment needed to achieve universal access to family planning. This is a real opportunity to increase the chances of more women being able to take charge of their future.

How this investment is made will determine whether millions of women will benefit. The UK must make sure that access to contraception is delivered with decent family planning education and health care that is free where women need it, and it must also be designed in ways that are sensitive to social barriers.

At school I benefited from compulsory sex education classes. At the time no one in my class would have thought of this a special privilege. We joked and made fun to cover the awkwardness that comes with the territory of teenagers talking about sex and contraception. But this provided us with a foundation as we grew up and started relationships - some people have got married and started families, others have chosen not to. Everyone from my class has had the right to access free and confidential advice services.

As I've been writing this blog a jingle has been going through my head from probably my first sex education class at the age of 10: "my body's nobody's body but mine" (anyone else remember that one?). It reminds me that I've known there's a choice and that I have control over my body from such a young age - this is not supposed to be a privilege, but should be a right for all women and girls.

Have your say and follow the latest news on Twitter at #FPsummit and @DFID_UK

Blog post written by Sara Cowan

Campaigns and Activism Co-ordinator

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