Educational and legal framework of access to contraception in Europe

Educational and legal framework of access to contraception in


G. Lazdane

Reproductive Health and Research, WHO Regional Office for


“Universal access to reproductive health services by

2015” was one of the goals of the International Conference on Population

and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in1994. Most of the countries represented at

this United Nations meeting confirmed “the right of men and women to be

informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable

methods of family planning of their choice…”. One of the reproductive

rights of every person is the right to information, education, and


The WHO European Regional Strategy on Sexual and Reproductive

Health (SRH) of 2001 urges the Member States of the WHO European Region to

create supportive legislative and regulatory frameworks to: review laws and

policies to ensure that they facilitate equitable access to SRH education,

information and services, ensure that regulations and standards are in place and

necessary commodities are available on a consistent and equitable basis, and set

performance standards for the provision of services.

There are 52 Member States and they have widely differing

educational and legal frameworks for reproductive choice and access to

contraception. The educational framework is multidimensional and consists of sex

education in schools, access to information in health care institutions, the

mass media and internet sites, the role of pharmaceutical companies, as well as

the quality of educational materials.

The legal framework at the national level usually concerns the

access to contraception of specific target groups and/or to a particular kind of

contraception, as well as the licensing of primary health care providers to

deliver contraceptive services. The sexual health of adolescents has recently

been the topic of multiple research studies in the European Region and resulted

in changes in the current laws and regulations.

Examples of the effect of the educational and legal framework on

the sexual and reproductive health of the population will be presented.

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