Family Planning

This term is experienced as a positive societal good to some, and to others, a dangerous and alarming societal trend.  

On one hand, the planning of conception and birth is seen as serving the economic, emotional and physical well-being of children, mothers and families. On the other hand, this same planning is seen as interfering with a natural process that should be left in God’s hands.

Despite religious concerns, the low birth rate in the US (and other Western countries) indicates to some a wide public acceptance of family planning.  Some conservative women express concern that this trend has gone too far and is actually becoming a detriment to women’s rights.

In particular, some raise concern that the option for women to delay childbearing until later in life has become in some instances a pressure to do so. Whether the consequences of delaying childbearing (or not) are positive or negative for women’s health and well-being is yet another point of disagreement.  

Broader concerns do exist across the political spectrum about reinforcing male-normative standards in the public sphere, which may pressure women to forgo or delay childbearing, rather than ask employers and others to accommodate the unique needs of women and their children. It remains mostly progressives advocating for maternity and paternity leave, however - with a lot of reluctance remaining on the conservative side to regulate/dictate anything in this area.

The dark side of family planning is coerced programs such as the one-child policy in China, and a history of forced sterilization of African Americans in parts of the United States.  These are condemned by people across the political/social spectrum.


Mary Jacksteit, Erika Decaster

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