An overview of some of the relationships between social institutions and family planning in the UK
What is the connection of Government, Schools, Economy and Church to family planning?
The UK government connects with family planning through, amongst other things, the funding of female contraception (Rowlands, 2007). This provision has been widely taken up by women, which has unintentionally led to societal assignation of responsibility for family planning to them (Filar, 2012).
The success of family planning has been furthered by its connection with the school curriculum. This extends beyond traditional sex education to subjects such as personal, social, health and economic education (Department for Education, 2013). Importantly, the Department for Education (2013) guidance emphasises the family planning responsibilities of male school students, thereby ameliorating the female responsibility focus described above.
The freedom from early and unplanned pregnancies facilitated by family planning has enabled parents to plan their families in line with their career and financial exigencies (Cleland et al., 2006). This economic connection with family planning is powerfully influential in respect of poverty reduction (Bongaarts and Sinding, 2011), although poor family planning remains most prevalent among the economically disadvantaged (Cleland et al., 2006), establishing the economic case for family planning education in schools.
The Church of England, in its capacity as the established church, connected positively with family planning as early as 1958 (Jones, 2011). Its influence, however, is possibly decreasing as church attendance falls (Sherwood, 2016). The Roman Catholic Church, currently growing in urban areas and consequently increasing in influence (Judah, 2016), connects negatively to what it terms “unnatural” family planning (Jones, 2011), in opposition to the beneficial governmental, educational and economic connections described above.
Bongaarts, J. and Sinding, S. W. (2011) “Family planning as an economic investment” in SAIS Review, XXXI (2), pp. 35-44
Cleland, J., Bernstein, S., Ezeh, A., Faundes, A., Glasier, A. and Innis, J. (2006) “Family planning: the unfinished agenda” in The Lancet, 368 (9549), pp. 1810-1827
Department for Education (2013) Guidance: Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education, London: Department for Education
Filar, R. (2012) “Contraception is no stroll in the park and men should share the stress” in The Guardian, Friday 7th September, 2012
Jones, R. (2011) The Canon Law of the Catholic Church and the Church of England, London: Continuum
Judah, B. (2016) “London’s religious awakening” in The Catholic Herald, Thursday 10th March, 2016
Rowlands, S. (2007) “Contraception and abortion” in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 10, pp. 465-468
Sherwood, H. (2016) “Church of England weekly attendance falls below 1m for first time” in The Guardian, Tuesday 12th January, 2016