Achieving the London FP Summit Goal through Adhering to Voluntary, Rights-Based Family Planning: What Can We Learn from Past Experiences with Coercion?
Karen Hardee, Population Council
Shannon Harris, Independent Consultant
Mariela Rodriguez, Futures Group
Jan Kumar, EngenderHealth
Lynn Bakamjian, Independent Consultant
Karen Newman, Independent Consultant
Win Brown, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Recently family planning has received renewed attention, and while the response to initiatives such as the London Summit on Family Planning has been generally positive, reproductive health and rights advocates have expressed concern that the strong focus of FP, especially the large numerical target of the London Summit, may result in coercion in programs. This paper answers the questions: What constitutes coercion in policy and program management and how do we use lessons of the past to avoid coercion in programs? We use literature from the 1960’s onward to define coercion and examine instances when it has occurred in family planning programs and instances where it has been alleged to have occurred. This analysis informs recommended actions to reduce the incidence of coercion, redeem and improve programs that are falsely accused of coercion, and ensure that programming provides voluntary family planning services that respect, protect and fulfill human rights.