In 2008, CCIH’s Board of Directors approved a membership survey to better understand member organizations’ practices and views about family planning (FP). Using the results of the survey, as well as a greater understanding of terms that are clear to our membership, CCIH defined the term “family planning” as:
“enabling couples to determine the number and timing of pregnancies, including the voluntary use of methods for preventing pregnancy – not including abortion – harmonious with their values and religious beliefs.”
Another way to say this is that we believe all people should decide how many children they would like to have and when; they should voluntarily choose how they want to prevent pregnancy (excluding abortion – it is not a family planning method), that resonate with their values and religious beliefs. We believe that by practicing quality family planning, abortions are prevented.
The evidence is clear that using family planning/healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies to space and limit births improves the health of mothers and children, and CCIH recognizes the harm to women and children by unintended pregnancies. When a woman becomes pregnant too soon following the birth of a child, the next child is more likely to die or be malnourished and stunted.
However, CCIH also affirms that family planning programs must stress voluntary and informed decision making. Women and couples should receive counseling on all the methods of family planning (18 methods including hormonal methods, natural methods, etc). Programs should be culturally appropriate, developed with strong collaboration from local communities, respect their beliefs, and support the potential for all community members to live an abundant life.
CCIH has worked to be responsive to our members needs – members’ have requested help addressing shortfalls/stockouts of FP methods at their health centers and hospitals, help with capacity building in their hospitals and clinics, and among community health workers and volunteers and help ensuring their staff are properly trained. Members and clergy have also asked for tools to help them discuss FP from a biblical perspective in church groups and similar settings.
We believe FP programs should incorporate messages on the following: biblical teachings; culture-specific gender roles; local leadership involvement; economic-driven reasoning; male and female involvement in education and programming; the dangers of child marriage; the importance of waiting until at least age 18 to conceive children; and the benefits of promoting healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies for women and their families.
CCIH members are based in more than 30 countries. Some run hospitals and clinics, others implement preventive health programs – all are working to promote health and wholeness from a Christian perspective through staffs whose integrity and faith dictates their care and love for patients and neighbors in their communities. They work with their governments and Ministries of Health, non-governmental partners, and other faith-based organizations.
CCIH strives to provide accurate and practical evidence-based family planning information and materials. Please visit our FP resource pages to find information that may be helpful to you (not an exhaustive resource list). If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Program Director Mona Bormet at mona.bormet (at) ccih.org.
Final Thoughts from Scripture
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:28 NIV).
The command to Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and increase in number” before the Fall of Man also speaks to exercising responsible dominion over God’s creation that we all share. Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies demonstrates responsibility in family life helping to keep mothers and children healthy and strong and better prepared to avoid illness and other hardship.