Uneven progress in contraception protection across Europe

Europe has among the highest use of contraceptives and the lowest abortion rates in the world, but progress is still uneven among member states especially in Eastern Europe
Adobe Stock

By Neil Datta

Neil Datta is Secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights

01 Mar 2022

Access to contraception is one of the areas of medical care that was an early casualty of the coronavirus restrictions- particularly when it concerns a means of contraception that requires personal fittings like LARCs (Long-acting Reversible Contraceptives).

The European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights have been monitoring the topic of contraception access for some time now and has recently published its fifth Contraception Atlas just ahead of Valentine’s Day.

"Modern contraception plays a key role in achieving gender equality. It is crucial to ensure universal access to high-quality contraceptive methods"

The week’s webinar launch of the atlas was presented by Croatian S&D deputy Fred Matić, and Dutch Renew deputy Sophie in ‘t Veld, with over 230 registered attendees. Matić said “Having access to affordable and accessible contraception is a basic right for all in a modern democracy. The atlas offers us a clear picture of where various European countries stand on this issue.”

In ‘t Veld added that “access to contraception is still uneven across Europe. Behind the very informative colour-coded map of this year’s Contraception Atlas are individual stories of Europeans, often not able to safeguard their independence and health. Although we see some progress, there still is so much push back against sexual and reproductive rights. We will fight until everyone in Europe has the freedom of choice.”

French Renew deputy Irène Tolleret also addressed the launch saying “modern contraception plays a key role in achieving gender equality. It is crucial to ensure universal access to high-quality contraceptive methods and address financial, social, and cultural barriers impeding it. The fundamental right to health and the right to choose for all women needs to be safeguarded."

 The Atlas presents a clear overview of the state of play regarding access to contraception across Europe - giving each country a colour based on how well they perform ranging from dark green to dark red. This year, a glance at the map shows us that there is still clearly a strong east/west divide on this issue, with countries like Poland lagging far behind and western countries like Belgium, France and the United Kingdom remaining at the top.

 The score awarded to each country is based on a range of factors including level of reimbursement available for contraceptive products, a new factor added this year, and access to information on the topic overall- via means such as government backed websites and social media.

As EPF Secretary I believe on balance Europe has among the highest contraceptive prevalence rates and the lowest abortion rates in the world. But this progress is very uneven, as you will see on The Atlas, some countries do very well, and some countries do not. Almost all the countries in Western Europe are doing very well, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in the east of the continent.

Click here for a PDF of the Atlas


Click here for the Atlas’ webpage.

This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group