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Evangelical Christians See Moral Imperative for Family Planning in Light of World's Growing Population

Correction appended

As the world’s population reaches 7 billion and the United Nation called world leaders to action to meet the challenges posed by a growing population, a group of evangelical Christians are drafting a statement that supports family planning and emphasizes that family planning reduces abortion and lives lost in childbirth.

The Rev. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a faith-based nonprofit group, is leading the draft. The draft states: "Family planning is morally laudable in Christian terms because of its contribution to family well-being, women's health, and the prevention of abortion."

In an opinion column for The NY Times, international journalist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote that family planning has been a victim of America's religious wars. He feels that family planning is a solution to global problems including climate change, poverty, overpopulation, and civil wars. His reaction to Cizik's support of family planning was, "Amen! Contraceptives no more cause sex than umbrellas cause rain."

Last week, United Nations demographers calculated the world's population had hit 7 billion, with the last billion people accumulating over a dozen years, which is a rapidly growing population rate when compared to the hundreds of thousands of years it took to reach the first billion in 1804.

In his column, Kristof explains that overpopulation compounds overall conflict and terrorism, especially in expanding countries like Afghanistan and Yemen. The journalist cited studies that suggest one way to lower carbon emission by the year 2100 is to slow population growth.

A new report from The Population Institute says, "The biggest barrier to reducing birth rates has been a lack of access to contraceptives. Today, the biggest barrier is gender inequality."

Kristof writes, "What's needed isn't just birth-control pills or IUDs. It's also girl's education and women's rights – starting with an end to child marriages – for educated women mostly have fewer children."

In addition to promoting gender equality, preventing abortion is also an issue that has increased global contraception use. According to the United Nations Population Fund, contraception prevents 112 million abortions a year. However, Republicans are seeking to cut global family planning funding, which Kristof argues would lead to an increase in abortions and more mothers dying in childbirth.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that U.S. family-planning centers actually save taxpayers roughly $3.4 billion annually that would otherwise be spent on pregnancies and babies.

The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good is a faith-based nonprofit that "offers a renewed Christian public witness for the sake of the Gospel and the common good."

The Rev. Richard Cizik previously served as vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, from which he cut ties after voicing support for civil unions. He also was the co-chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Taskforce on Religion and Making of U.S. Foreign Policy. He is also the author of The High Cost of Indifference and contributed to the landmark document, "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Engagement."

Correction: Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011:

An article on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2011, incorrectly identified the Rev. Richard Cizik as the current vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Galen Carey presently holds that post with the NAE; Cizik is no longer with the organization. 

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