The European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) released its “contraception atlas” last week, and the document has revealed a widening gap between eastern and western European countries.
The atlas is a report into how accessible contraception is in 46 European countries, It takes various factors into account, including supply and access to counseling and online information.
How well governments do at supplying contraception and advice on contraceptive options has a knock-on effect on health. It helps to prevent unwanted pregnancies and leads to fewer abortions. It also improves women’s health and reduces poverty and social problems.
Overall, Europe has one of the highest rates of contraceptive use, as well as some of the lowest rates of abortion. However, progress is much slower in some countries.
Most of western Europe performed well in the ranking, whilst eastern European countries still have work to do. For example, Poland scored lower than ever in this year’s report.
Belgium, France, and the UK were the best-performing countries overall, closely followed by Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Estonia.
In many countries, access to contraception has improved in the last year. Some of the changes include providing long-acting reversible contraception, increasing the age of contraceptive coverage, and reimbursing the costs of contraception for younger women.
But, in eastern Europe, countries are making less progress. No progress was seen in the last year in Slovakia, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, or Poland – which was listed as ‘exceptionally poor’
Ilona Kikbusch, the founder of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, commented at an event, “We’re having a rollback on women’s health, with fewer rights, because we have authoritarian and religiously driven politics in some countries.”
It’s hoped that this atlas can be used to introduce changes to EU legislation to close these gaps, reduce the costs of contraception, and improve information and availability.
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