Volt wants to ensure safe access to contraception for everyone in Europe

With the recent Luxembourg bill giving free access to contraceptive pills, Volt asks European leaders to take strong action for a harmonisation of contraception rights to guarantee safe access for everyone in all Member States.

Volt believes reproductive health is a shared responsibility in all couples: we support research regarding male contraceptive pills and further studies on endometriosis to develop viable alternatives to current pills with related side-effects.

May 30, 2023

On April 21st, 2022, the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) approved the decision to make oral contraceptive pills free for all women in the country. However, probably under pressure from Giorgia Meloni's right-wing government, AIFA subsequently postponed the decision to make the contraceptive pill reimbursable and free of charge for all women, stating that detailed information on age groups, distribution modalities, and costs for the National Health System is lacking. Once again, a step forward is followed with attempts to get women’s safety back to the old ages. It is not surprising from a government that has repeatedly shown itself to be against women - against abortion and contraception, and it is known for being close to "anti-choice" realities.

Free contraception is currently available in Italy only in 5 out of 21 regions and only for women up to age 25. This new decision could have finally helped Italy take a step toward full respect for women's rights, even if free treatment could be limited to only certain categories rather than all women. 

Since April 1st, Luxembourg has established a preventive programme to grant universal access to contraceptives at the national level.

Meanwhile, in France, since January 1st 2023, condoms have been provided free for all individuals aged between 18 and 25, as part of the provisions aimed at preventing sexual health issues among young people as included in the Social Security Financing Bill. This Bill also covers free contraception for young women up to 25 years old and full coverage of emergency contraception and HIV serological testing. 

In Spain, contraceptive pills have been free in family planning centres since 1983, and women aged 16 and older can access contraceptive methods without previous authorisation. As of 2020, the public health system has the responsibility to guarantee the availability of contraceptives and health services must provide information on sexual and reproductive health to all people. Women also have unrestricted access to emergency contraception and measures are being implemented to prevent sexual and gender-based violence. As of last March, Spain recognises co-responsibility in anticonception, the elimination of gender stereotypes and supports male contraceptive research.

In Malta the situation is more complex, since abortion under any circumstances is still a criminal offence. As such, no contraceptives are given for free, and the emergency contraceptive was only legalised in 2016. However, is still largely inaccessible, which prompted Volt Malta to launch #INeedMAP, an initiative to increase accessibility to the morning after pill in Malta. In 2022 the Government made assurances that “some” contraceptives would be made free in 2023, although no action has been taken yet. The fact that only 56% of youths aged 18-25 use contraceptives has contributed to an alarming rise in sexually transmitted infections.

Volt believes in a Europe where everyone can have access to contraception and is free to own their body. While France, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain are on the right path, Eastern European countries are still facing major difficulties to ensure safe access to contraceptives for everyone. We call on European member states to take action to build together a Union where people can feel safe when it comes to contraceptive rights. We also want responsibility for family planning to be shared between people, so we support the development of male contraceptive pills and call for more funding for these studies. Volt also encourages further research to counteract side effects of current female pills and find better solutions against menstruations and endometriosis pain.

We urge Member States to harmonise regulation on access to contraception for everyone in Europe. We also need to make information on contraception accessible and sex education classes provided to ensure everyone is aware of how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmissible diseases. Italy has never really seen laws implemented that would provide for this type of education in school curricula. This is why Volt in Bologna recently organised "A Nudo Festival", a series of events and lectures in schools to create awareness on issues of sexuality and affectivity. These small steps that our party takes locally are meant to build abetter, fairer and more equitable Europe free of taboos and constraints, all together.

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