From population control to reproductive health: An emerging policy agenda

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74 Scopus citations


This article reviews the background to the current debates between advocates of population control and reproductive health as frameworks for national and international health policies. Population control has been a dominant metaphor in international family planning programs since the 1960s. Population control has frequently meant pursuing a single-minded goal of fertility limitation, often without sufficient attention to the rights of family planning clients. This narrow focus has led to some coercive policies, numerous ethical violations, and ineffective family planning programs. In the last decade there has been the beginning of a policy shift, advocated by a growing number of activists and researchers in women's health, from population control to reproductive health. A reproductive health framework would provide a broader programmatic focus that could bring needed attention to such issues as sexually transmitted diseases, infertility, abortion, reproductive cancers and women's empowerment generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1303-1314
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • health policy
  • population
  • reproductive health
  • women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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