Sex and Love and Birth Control

This Valentine's Day, let's have more sex... and the freedom to enjoy it. With access to modern contraceptives, we can. I can think of very few things in life more pleasurable than sex between consenting adults... except when that pleasure is elevated by the opportunity to enjoy the experience without risk of disease and unwanted pregnancy.

Sometimes sex is about love, sometimes it's about planning for a future, sometimes it's about enjoying your partner, and sometimes it's about all of the above. Yet not every woman wants to be a mother right now, or perhaps at all -- and access to contraception provides a woman with the freedom to enjoy sex while making the reproductive health decisions that are right for her at every phase of her life.

Here in the United States, you and I can go to the doctor or local pharmacy to obtain the contraceptive method of our choice -- and so many of us do. Did you know that more than 99 percent of American women aged 15-44 who have ever had sex have used at least one contraceptive method in their lifetime? Unfortunately, 225 million women in developing countries don't have that option. These women want to delay or avoid pregnancy but lack access to contraception.

Access to contraception saves lives and empowers women. When women are able to plan if or when they become pregnant, they are more likely to survive childbirth and have healthier babies -- because they can wait until their bodies are ready. And with access to contraception, women can go further in school, earn more, and have healthier children -- when they want them.

This Valentine's Day, join me in celebrating sex AND the freedom to choose if and when to become pregnant -- on our own terms. And while we're at it, let's make sure that all women have the opportunity to do the same, regardless of where they live.

Stand with the 225 million women in developing countries who want to determine their futures, but lack access to contraception, and together let's ask: Where's the family planning?!