The Contraception Atlas -- a map that scores 45 countries throughout geographical Europe on access to modern contraception was launched on St Valentine’s Day in Brussels.
The rankings -- which are based on access to contraceptive supplies, family planning counseling and online information -- reveal a very uneven picture across Europe.
The European Parliamentary Forum on Population & Development (EPF) has produced the Atlas in partnership with Third-i, while experts in sexual and reproductive health and rights designed the methodology.
“Access to contraception should be a key concern of governments in empowering citizens to plan their families and lives. Yet every country we analysed should be doing more to improve access. Our findings show that for many European countries, ensuring that people have choice over their reproductive lives is not a priority.” commented Neil Datta, EPF Secretary.
“This is borne out by statistics on unintended pregnancy: over 43% pregnancies in Europe are unintended. Contraception is used by 69.2% of European women aged between 15 and 49 who are married or living with a partner -- lower the usage rates of both the North America and Latin America/Caribbean regions.”
“For a relatively small cost, governments can provide reimbursement for contraception -- particularly long acting and reversible contraception, such as implants and IUDs. Official government websites with information about contraceptive types and where to get them are a miniscule expense for governments, but can make a big difference to citizens seeking accurate information.”
The findings and more information about contraception in Europe are available on www.ContraceptionInfo.eu.
Highlights from the findings
France is the number one country for access to contraception in Europe. It is also the country with the highest birth rate on the continent.
In general, Western Europe has better access to contraception than Eastern Europe. However, one notable exception is Moldova -- which sits towards the summit of the ranking (fourth place).
European Union countries dominate the top ten places, however there are also six EU member states among the ten worst performing states. Bulgaria and Greece are close to the very bottom of the placing, only Russia does worse.
Eleven countries had a very good or excellent government supported website with information on the various types of contraception, where to get it, and whether it is reimbursed.
While many other countries have websites run by pharmaceutical companies or NGOs, six countries had no website of any kind providing information on contraceptives (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece and Russia).Some of these same countries have a very low contraceptive use rate, a high rate of abortion and a prevalence of myths about contraception.
Twenty-Five countries do not provide any type of reimbursement for contraception. One country, Slovakia, has a law explicitly forbidding any kind of reimbursement for contraception. Of the countries that do reimburse, the level of reimbursement varies greatly.
Turkey provides certain contraceptive supplies free of charge at public health centers, but only to married women.
Emergency contraception (also known as the ‘morning after pill’) is legal in all of the 45 countries surveyed. However, in three countries (Albania, Hungary, Russia) a prescription is still required to obtain Emergency Contraception.