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[Unpublished] 1985 Nov 25. 8 p.For some time there has been an active debate centering on the relationship between population growth and economic growth and the relationship, if any, between abortion and family planning programs. This debate has been characterized by strongly held and often polarized convictions, yet the debate usually fails to consider a most important set of reasons for family planning programs. Specifically, there has been little attention directed to the interests of families and individuals. This is unfortunate since the availability or lack of family planning services is of enormous consequences to some families and individuals. These family and individual interests fall into 3 categories: the desire of couples to determine the size and spacing of their family; mother and child survival; and reduction of abortion. The right of the family to choose the number and spacing of their children was strongly reaffirmed by international consensus at the International Conference on Population in Mexico City in 1984. Governments should not dictate the number of children couples can have, but family planning services should be encouraged so that people really do have the option, if they desire, of fewer children. Families make decisions in their own interest based upon their social and economic and religious situation. Change, including urbanization and lower child mortality, has created a new situation for millions of families throughout the developing world. One can debate the impact of population growth on economic growth in a family, but there is no question that many families feel they can do more for each child if they have fewer children. The unfulfilled desire of 3rd world families to have fewer children is not just Western speculation. Surveys show a large number of women who would like to space or limit their family size but cannot because no services are available. The health and survival of mothers and children provides a 2nd important reason for family planning. 1 of the most serious consequences of women having many children in quick succession is that more children and mothers die. There are dramatic statistics that family planning saves lives. Sound economic policies and various development efforts are critical to economic growth, but family planning has been part of successful packages in some key countries in recent years. Based upon that, sound economic and population policies are mutually supportive components of a country's plans for economic growth. This was the position taken by the Agency for International Development and remains its position. Strong family planning programs should be supported in the interests of families and individuals.