New report reveals inequalities in access to contraceptive choice in 10 European countries and calls for coherent policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights
A new report analysing contraceptive access across Europe has been launched today in the European Parliament at an event chaired by MEP Katarína Neveďalová. The report reveals serious differences between countries in how they approach access to contraceptive choice.
'The Barometer of Women’s Access to Modern Contraceptive Choice in 10 EU Countries' was developed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN). The report, available below, provides a policy and status overview on women’s access to modern contraceptive choice across ten EU member states (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden). The report highlights large gaps in the national policies analysed and urges policy makers to ensure that a comprehensive SRHR policy framework is established.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Vicky Claeys, IPPF EN Regional Director, said: “This report shows the diversity in which national governments address the issue of contraceptive choice across Europe and highlights inadequacies in national policy frameworks, pressing the need for increased dialogue between stakeholders and policy makers around sexual and reproductive health and rights. Ensuring women are able to make an informed choice and have equitable access to modern contraceptive methods is crucial in order to help them to decide whether and when to have children, which is an internationally recognized human right.”
The report argues that addressing the burden of unintended pregnancies should be a priority in modern societies, as current SRHR policies are generally scarce and inconsistent. This highlights the need for a greater level of political focus and financial support for SRHR policy. Stakeholders involved in the report went even further to call on urgent concrete policies to improve awareness amongst the general public, healthcare professional education and measures to address social inequalities impacting access to contraceptive choice at national level.
Katarína Neveďalová, Member of the European Parliament, commented: “Despite efforts by the European Union to support research on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the past, there is much more to be done in giving this issue the attention it deserves. The EU has a pivotal role to play in promoting coherent national policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights that address inequalities in access to modern contraception in EU member states, and it is time to bring this debate to the forefront.”
In addition to the absence of a comprehensive policy framework in many EU member states, the report found that there is an insufficient level of awareness and education around all modern contraceptive methods, with only 50% of the countries surveyed making sexuality education mandatory in schools. On the subject of professional guidelines, the report found a lack of effective and qualitative guidelines for healthcare professionals and service providers on contraception and individualised counselling, with the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany being the highest ranked countries for their evidence-based guidelines for healthcare professionals. The absence of consistently updated guidelines across Europe means that healthcare professionals are not always adequately informed about all contraceptive methods available and how best to advise their patients.
The report makes a number of policy recommendations aimed to empower women and young adults to benefit from appropriate contraceptive methods and access quality sexual and reproductive healthcare and information with the advice and support from healthcare professionals:
• Develop targeted, comprehensive SRHR policy frameworks, in close collaboration with key stakeholders and the scientific community
• Increase general awareness of modern contraceptive choice through public awareness campaigns. 30% of the EU member states analysed in the report do not have a government funded SRHR awareness campaign
• Establish mandatory sexuality education at schools, including information on modern contraceptive choice
• Ensure the provision of individualised counselling and quality services on SRHR
• Establish targeted measures to overcome inequalities in women’s access to all methods of contraception
• Work towards the prevention of discrimination and stigmatisation around SRHR
• Ensure adequate policy integration and consistency by adopting targeted measures to improve access to contraceptive choice within broader employment, education and non-discrimination policies
Notes to Editors:
Contact Marieka Vandewiele, Senior Programme Advisor, International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network at firstname.lastname@example.org (Tel. 00 32 (2) 250 09 50)