Monday, September 29, 2008

Where has the UNFPA been for 50 years?

The United Nations Population Fund has invented the Rhythm Method. Yes, really. The Population Research Institute reports the bewildering news that UNFPA has begun promoting a method of natural family planning. To make it look modern, they call it Cyclebeads and base the method around a string of plastic beads where days 8 to 19 are coloured white to indicate a strong possibility of fertility. It would be nice to believe that UNFPA has finally got the message about Natural Family Planning when the contraception-peddlers of this world have been sneering at NFP as 'Vatican roulette' for decades.

It certainly makes a refreshing change to hear these people singing the praises of NFP - educates women about their bodies, no side-effects, involves co-operation of men, free, acceptable to people who object to contraception - and I don't wish to be negative. Like all pro-life campaigners, I would far rather see UNFPA use its considerable resources promoting NFP than abortion and sterilisation, but as Colin Mason points out in his article, something just doesn't feel right here.

The major question we need to ask is, why on earth is UNFPA ignoring the major strides made by agencies that promote NFP and are instead promoting a method of birth spacing that has long been superceded by more efficient and user-friendly symptom-based methods? UNFPA's Cyclebeads, like the method it is based on, only works for women with a regular cycle, has a higher failure rate than modern methods of NFP and according to UNFPA's own website, is only suitable for women who have never used any method of artificial contraception or have had an abortion. In other words, it is suitable for all women... except those whose cycles are irregular and pretty much any woman who has made the mistake of taking UNFPA's advice in the past.