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News

Latest news from IPPF EN

Spotlight

A selection of news from across the Federation

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Ukraine

News item

Call To Action On Ukraine

Organizations urge the EU, European governments, the UN and other donor governments to protect SRHR and provide needed health care.
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news item

| 24 June 2021

European Parliament adopts landmark position on sexual and reproductive rights

The European Parliament voted today in favour of a landmark report presented by Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU”. While the European Parliament has repeatedly expressed concerns over the lack of full realisation of, and attacks against women’s rights, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), this report is the first of its kind in almost 10 years to give such a degree of political importance to SRHR at EU level. The report addresses the full range of SRHR and highlights the importance of accessing all essential SRH services, including comprehensive sexuality education, contraception, abortion, maternal health and fertility services; and of preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence. The vote sends a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU at a time when human rights in sexuality and reproduction are increasingly challenged by illiberal leaders, even within the EU, and as the global community makes inspirational commitments to advance SRHR in the Generation Equality Forum.  Neil Datta, Secretary for the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said, “Today, the European Parliament assumed its leadership role in strongly upholding the fundamental rights of all Europeans despite deliberate campaigning to incite fear and block the report. Common sense, human rights and values prevailed and MEPs were able to stand up for education and health over ignorance and religious ideology. As awareness about anti-gender movements increases, we can safeguard women’s rights, SRHR and gender equality more effectively”.   "The adoption of the report today is a great achievement for the European Parliament and those involved in the negotiations - although protecting the health and rights of everyone should not be controversial. We celebrate the EU’s reinforced commitment to promoting SRHR both within and outside the EU. The EU should now take concrete steps to make the promotion of SRHR for all a priority, both in its internal and external action.” Lisa Goerlitz, Head of Brussels Office, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). “We now look to the Member States and the European Commission to take the report’s recommendations forward and deliver on sexual and reproductive safety, care and freedom for all. We want to see serious advances on access to sexual and reproductive care as part of a society free from sexism and discrimination,” says Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  

guillaume-perigois-wVqC9dty3VQ-unsplash (1).jpg
news_item

| 24 June 2021

European Parliament adopts landmark position on sexual and reproductive rights

The European Parliament voted today in favour of a landmark report presented by Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU”. While the European Parliament has repeatedly expressed concerns over the lack of full realisation of, and attacks against women’s rights, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), this report is the first of its kind in almost 10 years to give such a degree of political importance to SRHR at EU level. The report addresses the full range of SRHR and highlights the importance of accessing all essential SRH services, including comprehensive sexuality education, contraception, abortion, maternal health and fertility services; and of preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence. The vote sends a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU at a time when human rights in sexuality and reproduction are increasingly challenged by illiberal leaders, even within the EU, and as the global community makes inspirational commitments to advance SRHR in the Generation Equality Forum.  Neil Datta, Secretary for the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said, “Today, the European Parliament assumed its leadership role in strongly upholding the fundamental rights of all Europeans despite deliberate campaigning to incite fear and block the report. Common sense, human rights and values prevailed and MEPs were able to stand up for education and health over ignorance and religious ideology. As awareness about anti-gender movements increases, we can safeguard women’s rights, SRHR and gender equality more effectively”.   "The adoption of the report today is a great achievement for the European Parliament and those involved in the negotiations - although protecting the health and rights of everyone should not be controversial. We celebrate the EU’s reinforced commitment to promoting SRHR both within and outside the EU. The EU should now take concrete steps to make the promotion of SRHR for all a priority, both in its internal and external action.” Lisa Goerlitz, Head of Brussels Office, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). “We now look to the Member States and the European Commission to take the report’s recommendations forward and deliver on sexual and reproductive safety, care and freedom for all. We want to see serious advances on access to sexual and reproductive care as part of a society free from sexism and discrimination,” says Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  

EU
news item

| 11 May 2021

A vote for women's health, safety and freedom in the EU (statement)

On the tenth anniversary of the Istanbul Convention - the most far-reaching international legal instrument to set out binding obligations to prevent and combat violence against women - the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) voted today in favour of the report presented by MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU” by 27 votes in favour. This resolution is the first European Parliament Report specifically dedicated to SRHR in almost 10 years. “The report provides an in-depth analysis of SRHR, recognising that SRHR is not only a human rights issue; it is also intrinsically linked with gender equality, women’s empowerment and combating gender-based violence. The report also provides a way forward on how the EU can deliver on reproductive freedom, safety and dignity for all”. – Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  The report gives a high level of political importance to SRHR at EU level at a crucial time, with challenges in accessing the whole range of SRHR being compounded by COVID-19 measures and some Member States backsliding on women’s rights, gender equality and SRHR across Europe and globally.  “SRHR are at the core of several EU competency areas, including health, gender equality and non-discrimination, combating gender-based violence, fundamental rights and the rule of law. The EU is a longstanding SRHR supporter in its development and human rights policies and needs to safeguard SRHR both within and outside the EU for everyone.” – Cécile Vernant, Head of EU Advocacy at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). The Report has been tabled for a plenary vote at the European Parliament in June. EPF Secretary Neil Datta added: “Europe has a responsibility to take up a global leadership role on these issues, and this vote today is an important first step. It is crucial that we continue to work vocally in support of women’s rights, reproductive freedom and gender equality, and a positive result in the plenary will send a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU.”  

EU
news_item

| 11 May 2021

A vote for women's health, safety and freedom in the EU (statement)

On the tenth anniversary of the Istanbul Convention - the most far-reaching international legal instrument to set out binding obligations to prevent and combat violence against women - the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) voted today in favour of the report presented by MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU” by 27 votes in favour. This resolution is the first European Parliament Report specifically dedicated to SRHR in almost 10 years. “The report provides an in-depth analysis of SRHR, recognising that SRHR is not only a human rights issue; it is also intrinsically linked with gender equality, women’s empowerment and combating gender-based violence. The report also provides a way forward on how the EU can deliver on reproductive freedom, safety and dignity for all”. – Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  The report gives a high level of political importance to SRHR at EU level at a crucial time, with challenges in accessing the whole range of SRHR being compounded by COVID-19 measures and some Member States backsliding on women’s rights, gender equality and SRHR across Europe and globally.  “SRHR are at the core of several EU competency areas, including health, gender equality and non-discrimination, combating gender-based violence, fundamental rights and the rule of law. The EU is a longstanding SRHR supporter in its development and human rights policies and needs to safeguard SRHR both within and outside the EU for everyone.” – Cécile Vernant, Head of EU Advocacy at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). The Report has been tabled for a plenary vote at the European Parliament in June. EPF Secretary Neil Datta added: “Europe has a responsibility to take up a global leadership role on these issues, and this vote today is an important first step. It is crucial that we continue to work vocally in support of women’s rights, reproductive freedom and gender equality, and a positive result in the plenary will send a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU.”  

Woman looks out of window
news item

| 12 October 2020

Italy, France and Spain – positive steps on access to contraceptive and abortion care

IPPF EN is very encouraged by a series of positive developments in recent days which show European decision-makers and public bodies supporting the reproductive freedom and safety of women and girls, and rejecting harmful obstacles to care. At a time when other countries in Europe are pursuing retrogressive political agendas, we are heartened by these examples of progressive values shaping the legal frameworks which determine how women and girls access and experience care. Emergency contraception: Italy removes prescription hurdle for minors needing contraceptive care On 8 October, Italy’s national Medicines Agency (Aifa) announced new rules for under-18s needing to access emergency contraception. Adolescent girls will now be able to access this essential care over-the-counter in pharmacies without being required to have a prescription. The Aifa described this step forward as a “turning point for teenagers’ physical and mental health”, and “an ethical measure which will help avoid difficult situations in which girls usually bear the burden by themselves.” The organisation also announced the creation of a much-needed new website to provide information about contraception. (article in La Repubblica here) French Parliament paves the way for boosting women’s access to abortion care Also on 8 October, France’s National Assembly discussed a bill to strengthen the right to abortion. New measures approved in this first reading would include the extension of the legal deadline for access to abortion from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, the possibility for midwives to carry out surgical abortions up to the 10th week, and the removal of the clause that enables care providers to deny women care based on their own personal beliefs. Our French member Le Planning Familial, which has regularly denounced the difficulties that women face in accessing abortion care, strongly supports these proposed new measures. LPF described them as a first step towards aligning with the European countries that have the most women-centred abortion legislation, and doing away with unnecessary hurdles to care: “This first reading of the law is a real step forward for women’s right to control their bodies. Thousands of French women go abroad to have abortions every year. This decision to extend the time limits makes it possible to fight against social inequalities, since not all women can access care abroad, and against territorial inequalities, because all women in Europe should have the same right to safety and reproductive freedom.” (Full statement in French from Le Planning Familial here) The next step will be a vote on the reform in the French Senate. Abortion care: Spain plans to remove 2015 parental consent obstacle for 16 and 17-year-olds Spain’s government has announced its intention to reform the current abortion law to remove a hurdle introduced in 2015 by the ruling Conservative government requiring 16 and 17-year olds to seek parental consent before being able to access abortion care. Equality Minister Irene Montero also announced plans to promote relationships and sexuality education, given its role in protecting young people against the risk of gender-based violence, and to boost contraceptive access and choice. In a statement, our Spanish member the FPFE welcomed the government’s announcement, and hoped that it would be swiftly followed up with action to turn the commitments into reality, reiterating that the current parental consent requirement is a threat to young women's health, safety and autonomy.    On contraceptive care, they noted that the proposal to guarantee “the best possible access to contraception with its “most innovative and effective” forms… would bring the Spanish state closer to the level of access… in other European countries.” The FPFE also called for the announcement to “be accompanied by measures that guarantee public funding of all contraceptive methods…, to end the inequalities between autonomous communities, and of measures that also entail access for all women… regardless of their administrative situation.” (Full FPFE statement here; BBC article here)

Woman looks out of window
news_item

| 12 October 2020

Italy, France and Spain – positive steps on access to contraceptive and abortion care

IPPF EN is very encouraged by a series of positive developments in recent days which show European decision-makers and public bodies supporting the reproductive freedom and safety of women and girls, and rejecting harmful obstacles to care. At a time when other countries in Europe are pursuing retrogressive political agendas, we are heartened by these examples of progressive values shaping the legal frameworks which determine how women and girls access and experience care. Emergency contraception: Italy removes prescription hurdle for minors needing contraceptive care On 8 October, Italy’s national Medicines Agency (Aifa) announced new rules for under-18s needing to access emergency contraception. Adolescent girls will now be able to access this essential care over-the-counter in pharmacies without being required to have a prescription. The Aifa described this step forward as a “turning point for teenagers’ physical and mental health”, and “an ethical measure which will help avoid difficult situations in which girls usually bear the burden by themselves.” The organisation also announced the creation of a much-needed new website to provide information about contraception. (article in La Repubblica here) French Parliament paves the way for boosting women’s access to abortion care Also on 8 October, France’s National Assembly discussed a bill to strengthen the right to abortion. New measures approved in this first reading would include the extension of the legal deadline for access to abortion from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, the possibility for midwives to carry out surgical abortions up to the 10th week, and the removal of the clause that enables care providers to deny women care based on their own personal beliefs. Our French member Le Planning Familial, which has regularly denounced the difficulties that women face in accessing abortion care, strongly supports these proposed new measures. LPF described them as a first step towards aligning with the European countries that have the most women-centred abortion legislation, and doing away with unnecessary hurdles to care: “This first reading of the law is a real step forward for women’s right to control their bodies. Thousands of French women go abroad to have abortions every year. This decision to extend the time limits makes it possible to fight against social inequalities, since not all women can access care abroad, and against territorial inequalities, because all women in Europe should have the same right to safety and reproductive freedom.” (Full statement in French from Le Planning Familial here) The next step will be a vote on the reform in the French Senate. Abortion care: Spain plans to remove 2015 parental consent obstacle for 16 and 17-year-olds Spain’s government has announced its intention to reform the current abortion law to remove a hurdle introduced in 2015 by the ruling Conservative government requiring 16 and 17-year olds to seek parental consent before being able to access abortion care. Equality Minister Irene Montero also announced plans to promote relationships and sexuality education, given its role in protecting young people against the risk of gender-based violence, and to boost contraceptive access and choice. In a statement, our Spanish member the FPFE welcomed the government’s announcement, and hoped that it would be swiftly followed up with action to turn the commitments into reality, reiterating that the current parental consent requirement is a threat to young women's health, safety and autonomy.    On contraceptive care, they noted that the proposal to guarantee “the best possible access to contraception with its “most innovative and effective” forms… would bring the Spanish state closer to the level of access… in other European countries.” The FPFE also called for the announcement to “be accompanied by measures that guarantee public funding of all contraceptive methods…, to end the inequalities between autonomous communities, and of measures that also entail access for all women… regardless of their administrative situation.” (Full FPFE statement here; BBC article here)

Contraception IPPF
news item

| 04 June 2020

Government caught between science and ideology on contraceptives scheme

The Lithuanian Health Minister, Aurelijus Veryga, has halted a new contraceptive reimbursement scheme following interference by religious NGOs and politicians. The Minister signed his approval of the scheme in April following a recommendation by the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the State Commission on Drugs and Medicine Reimbursement, but objections by groups opposed to marriage equality and ratification of the Istanbul Convention on fighting violence against women led him to halt the process seeking further clarification. The timeline for this review has not been published. The scheme would have been a positive step to addressing Lithuania’s poor scores in gender equality, where Lithuania ranks 23rd in the EU on the Gender Equality Index. With a discriminatory system of contraceptive access and weak provision of sexuality education, teenage pregnancy is between two to three times higher than many other European countries, where girls from poorer background are at a higher risk of having unintended pregnancies. Long-acting reversable contraceptives, which would be covered by the scheme, are recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as the first-line contraceptive for girls due to their safety and efficacy. Caroline Hickson, Regional Director at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network said: ‘It is regrettable to see the Minister second guess a decision that would have profound impact on the reproductive lives of Lithuanian women and girls. We hope the Minister listens to the scientific consensus on contraceptive protection and stands firm against the machinations of groups that lack accurate knowledge and fuel fears based on misinformation.’ Contraceptive reimbursement is an established practice across Europe where it has been shown to increase contraceptive use among vulnerable groups, including young women. In the Netherlands, a combination of contraceptive reimbursement and the provision of high-quality sexuality education has led to high contraceptive prevalence among young people, where 90% use contraception during first intercourse. Rates of teenage pregnancy are also low in Slovenia which considers contraception a constitutional right that is covered by compulsory health insurance. The Minister’s hesitation over contraceptive reimbursement follows controversy over his recent recommendation that women ‘reconsider’ their need for abortion during the coronavirus lockdown. While he had previously indicated opposition to banning abortion, critics have noted a recent negative turn on reproductive safety and posit connection between this and the upcoming elections in October. Caroline Hickson continued: ‘Time and again we see the health and safety of women and girls put up for debate – this must end. Contraceptive care is a touchstone of gender equality and respect for women’s dignity, it is unacceptable to deprive women and girls of the care they need.’   For press inquiries: Cosmina Marian, Communications Advisor, International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network: [email protected] / +32 495 339 380

Contraception IPPF
news_item

| 04 June 2020

Government caught between science and ideology on contraceptives scheme

The Lithuanian Health Minister, Aurelijus Veryga, has halted a new contraceptive reimbursement scheme following interference by religious NGOs and politicians. The Minister signed his approval of the scheme in April following a recommendation by the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the State Commission on Drugs and Medicine Reimbursement, but objections by groups opposed to marriage equality and ratification of the Istanbul Convention on fighting violence against women led him to halt the process seeking further clarification. The timeline for this review has not been published. The scheme would have been a positive step to addressing Lithuania’s poor scores in gender equality, where Lithuania ranks 23rd in the EU on the Gender Equality Index. With a discriminatory system of contraceptive access and weak provision of sexuality education, teenage pregnancy is between two to three times higher than many other European countries, where girls from poorer background are at a higher risk of having unintended pregnancies. Long-acting reversable contraceptives, which would be covered by the scheme, are recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as the first-line contraceptive for girls due to their safety and efficacy. Caroline Hickson, Regional Director at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network said: ‘It is regrettable to see the Minister second guess a decision that would have profound impact on the reproductive lives of Lithuanian women and girls. We hope the Minister listens to the scientific consensus on contraceptive protection and stands firm against the machinations of groups that lack accurate knowledge and fuel fears based on misinformation.’ Contraceptive reimbursement is an established practice across Europe where it has been shown to increase contraceptive use among vulnerable groups, including young women. In the Netherlands, a combination of contraceptive reimbursement and the provision of high-quality sexuality education has led to high contraceptive prevalence among young people, where 90% use contraception during first intercourse. Rates of teenage pregnancy are also low in Slovenia which considers contraception a constitutional right that is covered by compulsory health insurance. The Minister’s hesitation over contraceptive reimbursement follows controversy over his recent recommendation that women ‘reconsider’ their need for abortion during the coronavirus lockdown. While he had previously indicated opposition to banning abortion, critics have noted a recent negative turn on reproductive safety and posit connection between this and the upcoming elections in October. Caroline Hickson continued: ‘Time and again we see the health and safety of women and girls put up for debate – this must end. Contraceptive care is a touchstone of gender equality and respect for women’s dignity, it is unacceptable to deprive women and girls of the care they need.’   For press inquiries: Cosmina Marian, Communications Advisor, International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network: [email protected] / +32 495 339 380

BecauseSheCounts campaign
news item

| 28 May 2020

Because She Counts campaign on sexual and reproductive care

European donor governments have proved their commitment to women and girls’ safety and freedom through their policy and funding decisions on sexual and reproductive care. This campaign, developed under the umbrella of the Countdown 2030 Europe project, will reflect on the progress made so far and on the impact of the current health crisis on the achievements made. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues the determination of European donors must not waver. Around the world, sexual and reproductive care providers and advocates know that people still need access to contraception and other services, even in the midst of a pandemic. A continuation of the current lockdowns can leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Another six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence. We are asking European donors to maintain current and future Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding and to support civil society, partner countries and multilateral organisations through a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes critical investments in health and support to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our #BecauseSheCounts social media campaign asks decision-makers to put universal health care, human rights, equality and at the core of all public policy and funding decision, amid the pandemic and always. To join our campaign, share our #BecauseSheCounts messages and visuals and tag us @C2030Europe! Ask your governments to continue to prove that solidarity goes beyond borders and should not be limited to European Union countries. The campaign assets.

BecauseSheCounts campaign
news_item

| 28 May 2020

Because She Counts campaign on sexual and reproductive care

European donor governments have proved their commitment to women and girls’ safety and freedom through their policy and funding decisions on sexual and reproductive care. This campaign, developed under the umbrella of the Countdown 2030 Europe project, will reflect on the progress made so far and on the impact of the current health crisis on the achievements made. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues the determination of European donors must not waver. Around the world, sexual and reproductive care providers and advocates know that people still need access to contraception and other services, even in the midst of a pandemic. A continuation of the current lockdowns can leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Another six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence. We are asking European donors to maintain current and future Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding and to support civil society, partner countries and multilateral organisations through a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes critical investments in health and support to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our #BecauseSheCounts social media campaign asks decision-makers to put universal health care, human rights, equality and at the core of all public policy and funding decision, amid the pandemic and always. To join our campaign, share our #BecauseSheCounts messages and visuals and tag us @C2030Europe! Ask your governments to continue to prove that solidarity goes beyond borders and should not be limited to European Union countries. The campaign assets.

guillaume-perigois-wVqC9dty3VQ-unsplash (1).jpg
news item

| 24 June 2021

European Parliament adopts landmark position on sexual and reproductive rights

The European Parliament voted today in favour of a landmark report presented by Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU”. While the European Parliament has repeatedly expressed concerns over the lack of full realisation of, and attacks against women’s rights, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), this report is the first of its kind in almost 10 years to give such a degree of political importance to SRHR at EU level. The report addresses the full range of SRHR and highlights the importance of accessing all essential SRH services, including comprehensive sexuality education, contraception, abortion, maternal health and fertility services; and of preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence. The vote sends a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU at a time when human rights in sexuality and reproduction are increasingly challenged by illiberal leaders, even within the EU, and as the global community makes inspirational commitments to advance SRHR in the Generation Equality Forum.  Neil Datta, Secretary for the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said, “Today, the European Parliament assumed its leadership role in strongly upholding the fundamental rights of all Europeans despite deliberate campaigning to incite fear and block the report. Common sense, human rights and values prevailed and MEPs were able to stand up for education and health over ignorance and religious ideology. As awareness about anti-gender movements increases, we can safeguard women’s rights, SRHR and gender equality more effectively”.   "The adoption of the report today is a great achievement for the European Parliament and those involved in the negotiations - although protecting the health and rights of everyone should not be controversial. We celebrate the EU’s reinforced commitment to promoting SRHR both within and outside the EU. The EU should now take concrete steps to make the promotion of SRHR for all a priority, both in its internal and external action.” Lisa Goerlitz, Head of Brussels Office, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). “We now look to the Member States and the European Commission to take the report’s recommendations forward and deliver on sexual and reproductive safety, care and freedom for all. We want to see serious advances on access to sexual and reproductive care as part of a society free from sexism and discrimination,” says Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  

guillaume-perigois-wVqC9dty3VQ-unsplash (1).jpg
news_item

| 24 June 2021

European Parliament adopts landmark position on sexual and reproductive rights

The European Parliament voted today in favour of a landmark report presented by Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU”. While the European Parliament has repeatedly expressed concerns over the lack of full realisation of, and attacks against women’s rights, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), this report is the first of its kind in almost 10 years to give such a degree of political importance to SRHR at EU level. The report addresses the full range of SRHR and highlights the importance of accessing all essential SRH services, including comprehensive sexuality education, contraception, abortion, maternal health and fertility services; and of preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence. The vote sends a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU at a time when human rights in sexuality and reproduction are increasingly challenged by illiberal leaders, even within the EU, and as the global community makes inspirational commitments to advance SRHR in the Generation Equality Forum.  Neil Datta, Secretary for the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said, “Today, the European Parliament assumed its leadership role in strongly upholding the fundamental rights of all Europeans despite deliberate campaigning to incite fear and block the report. Common sense, human rights and values prevailed and MEPs were able to stand up for education and health over ignorance and religious ideology. As awareness about anti-gender movements increases, we can safeguard women’s rights, SRHR and gender equality more effectively”.   "The adoption of the report today is a great achievement for the European Parliament and those involved in the negotiations - although protecting the health and rights of everyone should not be controversial. We celebrate the EU’s reinforced commitment to promoting SRHR both within and outside the EU. The EU should now take concrete steps to make the promotion of SRHR for all a priority, both in its internal and external action.” Lisa Goerlitz, Head of Brussels Office, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). “We now look to the Member States and the European Commission to take the report’s recommendations forward and deliver on sexual and reproductive safety, care and freedom for all. We want to see serious advances on access to sexual and reproductive care as part of a society free from sexism and discrimination,” says Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  

EU
news item

| 11 May 2021

A vote for women's health, safety and freedom in the EU (statement)

On the tenth anniversary of the Istanbul Convention - the most far-reaching international legal instrument to set out binding obligations to prevent and combat violence against women - the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) voted today in favour of the report presented by MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU” by 27 votes in favour. This resolution is the first European Parliament Report specifically dedicated to SRHR in almost 10 years. “The report provides an in-depth analysis of SRHR, recognising that SRHR is not only a human rights issue; it is also intrinsically linked with gender equality, women’s empowerment and combating gender-based violence. The report also provides a way forward on how the EU can deliver on reproductive freedom, safety and dignity for all”. – Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  The report gives a high level of political importance to SRHR at EU level at a crucial time, with challenges in accessing the whole range of SRHR being compounded by COVID-19 measures and some Member States backsliding on women’s rights, gender equality and SRHR across Europe and globally.  “SRHR are at the core of several EU competency areas, including health, gender equality and non-discrimination, combating gender-based violence, fundamental rights and the rule of law. The EU is a longstanding SRHR supporter in its development and human rights policies and needs to safeguard SRHR both within and outside the EU for everyone.” – Cécile Vernant, Head of EU Advocacy at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). The Report has been tabled for a plenary vote at the European Parliament in June. EPF Secretary Neil Datta added: “Europe has a responsibility to take up a global leadership role on these issues, and this vote today is an important first step. It is crucial that we continue to work vocally in support of women’s rights, reproductive freedom and gender equality, and a positive result in the plenary will send a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU.”  

EU
news_item

| 11 May 2021

A vote for women's health, safety and freedom in the EU (statement)

On the tenth anniversary of the Istanbul Convention - the most far-reaching international legal instrument to set out binding obligations to prevent and combat violence against women - the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) voted today in favour of the report presented by MEP Predrag Fred Matić on “the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU” by 27 votes in favour. This resolution is the first European Parliament Report specifically dedicated to SRHR in almost 10 years. “The report provides an in-depth analysis of SRHR, recognising that SRHR is not only a human rights issue; it is also intrinsically linked with gender equality, women’s empowerment and combating gender-based violence. The report also provides a way forward on how the EU can deliver on reproductive freedom, safety and dignity for all”. – Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN).  The report gives a high level of political importance to SRHR at EU level at a crucial time, with challenges in accessing the whole range of SRHR being compounded by COVID-19 measures and some Member States backsliding on women’s rights, gender equality and SRHR across Europe and globally.  “SRHR are at the core of several EU competency areas, including health, gender equality and non-discrimination, combating gender-based violence, fundamental rights and the rule of law. The EU is a longstanding SRHR supporter in its development and human rights policies and needs to safeguard SRHR both within and outside the EU for everyone.” – Cécile Vernant, Head of EU Advocacy at Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW). The Report has been tabled for a plenary vote at the European Parliament in June. EPF Secretary Neil Datta added: “Europe has a responsibility to take up a global leadership role on these issues, and this vote today is an important first step. It is crucial that we continue to work vocally in support of women’s rights, reproductive freedom and gender equality, and a positive result in the plenary will send a strong signal that MEPs are fully committed to protect and promote SRHR in the EU.”  

Woman looks out of window
news item

| 12 October 2020

Italy, France and Spain – positive steps on access to contraceptive and abortion care

IPPF EN is very encouraged by a series of positive developments in recent days which show European decision-makers and public bodies supporting the reproductive freedom and safety of women and girls, and rejecting harmful obstacles to care. At a time when other countries in Europe are pursuing retrogressive political agendas, we are heartened by these examples of progressive values shaping the legal frameworks which determine how women and girls access and experience care. Emergency contraception: Italy removes prescription hurdle for minors needing contraceptive care On 8 October, Italy’s national Medicines Agency (Aifa) announced new rules for under-18s needing to access emergency contraception. Adolescent girls will now be able to access this essential care over-the-counter in pharmacies without being required to have a prescription. The Aifa described this step forward as a “turning point for teenagers’ physical and mental health”, and “an ethical measure which will help avoid difficult situations in which girls usually bear the burden by themselves.” The organisation also announced the creation of a much-needed new website to provide information about contraception. (article in La Repubblica here) French Parliament paves the way for boosting women’s access to abortion care Also on 8 October, France’s National Assembly discussed a bill to strengthen the right to abortion. New measures approved in this first reading would include the extension of the legal deadline for access to abortion from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, the possibility for midwives to carry out surgical abortions up to the 10th week, and the removal of the clause that enables care providers to deny women care based on their own personal beliefs. Our French member Le Planning Familial, which has regularly denounced the difficulties that women face in accessing abortion care, strongly supports these proposed new measures. LPF described them as a first step towards aligning with the European countries that have the most women-centred abortion legislation, and doing away with unnecessary hurdles to care: “This first reading of the law is a real step forward for women’s right to control their bodies. Thousands of French women go abroad to have abortions every year. This decision to extend the time limits makes it possible to fight against social inequalities, since not all women can access care abroad, and against territorial inequalities, because all women in Europe should have the same right to safety and reproductive freedom.” (Full statement in French from Le Planning Familial here) The next step will be a vote on the reform in the French Senate. Abortion care: Spain plans to remove 2015 parental consent obstacle for 16 and 17-year-olds Spain’s government has announced its intention to reform the current abortion law to remove a hurdle introduced in 2015 by the ruling Conservative government requiring 16 and 17-year olds to seek parental consent before being able to access abortion care. Equality Minister Irene Montero also announced plans to promote relationships and sexuality education, given its role in protecting young people against the risk of gender-based violence, and to boost contraceptive access and choice. In a statement, our Spanish member the FPFE welcomed the government’s announcement, and hoped that it would be swiftly followed up with action to turn the commitments into reality, reiterating that the current parental consent requirement is a threat to young women's health, safety and autonomy.    On contraceptive care, they noted that the proposal to guarantee “the best possible access to contraception with its “most innovative and effective” forms… would bring the Spanish state closer to the level of access… in other European countries.” The FPFE also called for the announcement to “be accompanied by measures that guarantee public funding of all contraceptive methods…, to end the inequalities between autonomous communities, and of measures that also entail access for all women… regardless of their administrative situation.” (Full FPFE statement here; BBC article here)

Woman looks out of window
news_item

| 12 October 2020

Italy, France and Spain – positive steps on access to contraceptive and abortion care

IPPF EN is very encouraged by a series of positive developments in recent days which show European decision-makers and public bodies supporting the reproductive freedom and safety of women and girls, and rejecting harmful obstacles to care. At a time when other countries in Europe are pursuing retrogressive political agendas, we are heartened by these examples of progressive values shaping the legal frameworks which determine how women and girls access and experience care. Emergency contraception: Italy removes prescription hurdle for minors needing contraceptive care On 8 October, Italy’s national Medicines Agency (Aifa) announced new rules for under-18s needing to access emergency contraception. Adolescent girls will now be able to access this essential care over-the-counter in pharmacies without being required to have a prescription. The Aifa described this step forward as a “turning point for teenagers’ physical and mental health”, and “an ethical measure which will help avoid difficult situations in which girls usually bear the burden by themselves.” The organisation also announced the creation of a much-needed new website to provide information about contraception. (article in La Repubblica here) French Parliament paves the way for boosting women’s access to abortion care Also on 8 October, France’s National Assembly discussed a bill to strengthen the right to abortion. New measures approved in this first reading would include the extension of the legal deadline for access to abortion from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, the possibility for midwives to carry out surgical abortions up to the 10th week, and the removal of the clause that enables care providers to deny women care based on their own personal beliefs. Our French member Le Planning Familial, which has regularly denounced the difficulties that women face in accessing abortion care, strongly supports these proposed new measures. LPF described them as a first step towards aligning with the European countries that have the most women-centred abortion legislation, and doing away with unnecessary hurdles to care: “This first reading of the law is a real step forward for women’s right to control their bodies. Thousands of French women go abroad to have abortions every year. This decision to extend the time limits makes it possible to fight against social inequalities, since not all women can access care abroad, and against territorial inequalities, because all women in Europe should have the same right to safety and reproductive freedom.” (Full statement in French from Le Planning Familial here) The next step will be a vote on the reform in the French Senate. Abortion care: Spain plans to remove 2015 parental consent obstacle for 16 and 17-year-olds Spain’s government has announced its intention to reform the current abortion law to remove a hurdle introduced in 2015 by the ruling Conservative government requiring 16 and 17-year olds to seek parental consent before being able to access abortion care. Equality Minister Irene Montero also announced plans to promote relationships and sexuality education, given its role in protecting young people against the risk of gender-based violence, and to boost contraceptive access and choice. In a statement, our Spanish member the FPFE welcomed the government’s announcement, and hoped that it would be swiftly followed up with action to turn the commitments into reality, reiterating that the current parental consent requirement is a threat to young women's health, safety and autonomy.    On contraceptive care, they noted that the proposal to guarantee “the best possible access to contraception with its “most innovative and effective” forms… would bring the Spanish state closer to the level of access… in other European countries.” The FPFE also called for the announcement to “be accompanied by measures that guarantee public funding of all contraceptive methods…, to end the inequalities between autonomous communities, and of measures that also entail access for all women… regardless of their administrative situation.” (Full FPFE statement here; BBC article here)

Contraception IPPF
news item

| 04 June 2020

Government caught between science and ideology on contraceptives scheme

The Lithuanian Health Minister, Aurelijus Veryga, has halted a new contraceptive reimbursement scheme following interference by religious NGOs and politicians. The Minister signed his approval of the scheme in April following a recommendation by the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the State Commission on Drugs and Medicine Reimbursement, but objections by groups opposed to marriage equality and ratification of the Istanbul Convention on fighting violence against women led him to halt the process seeking further clarification. The timeline for this review has not been published. The scheme would have been a positive step to addressing Lithuania’s poor scores in gender equality, where Lithuania ranks 23rd in the EU on the Gender Equality Index. With a discriminatory system of contraceptive access and weak provision of sexuality education, teenage pregnancy is between two to three times higher than many other European countries, where girls from poorer background are at a higher risk of having unintended pregnancies. Long-acting reversable contraceptives, which would be covered by the scheme, are recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as the first-line contraceptive for girls due to their safety and efficacy. Caroline Hickson, Regional Director at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network said: ‘It is regrettable to see the Minister second guess a decision that would have profound impact on the reproductive lives of Lithuanian women and girls. We hope the Minister listens to the scientific consensus on contraceptive protection and stands firm against the machinations of groups that lack accurate knowledge and fuel fears based on misinformation.’ Contraceptive reimbursement is an established practice across Europe where it has been shown to increase contraceptive use among vulnerable groups, including young women. In the Netherlands, a combination of contraceptive reimbursement and the provision of high-quality sexuality education has led to high contraceptive prevalence among young people, where 90% use contraception during first intercourse. Rates of teenage pregnancy are also low in Slovenia which considers contraception a constitutional right that is covered by compulsory health insurance. The Minister’s hesitation over contraceptive reimbursement follows controversy over his recent recommendation that women ‘reconsider’ their need for abortion during the coronavirus lockdown. While he had previously indicated opposition to banning abortion, critics have noted a recent negative turn on reproductive safety and posit connection between this and the upcoming elections in October. Caroline Hickson continued: ‘Time and again we see the health and safety of women and girls put up for debate – this must end. Contraceptive care is a touchstone of gender equality and respect for women’s dignity, it is unacceptable to deprive women and girls of the care they need.’   For press inquiries: Cosmina Marian, Communications Advisor, International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network: [email protected] / +32 495 339 380

Contraception IPPF
news_item

| 04 June 2020

Government caught between science and ideology on contraceptives scheme

The Lithuanian Health Minister, Aurelijus Veryga, has halted a new contraceptive reimbursement scheme following interference by religious NGOs and politicians. The Minister signed his approval of the scheme in April following a recommendation by the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the State Commission on Drugs and Medicine Reimbursement, but objections by groups opposed to marriage equality and ratification of the Istanbul Convention on fighting violence against women led him to halt the process seeking further clarification. The timeline for this review has not been published. The scheme would have been a positive step to addressing Lithuania’s poor scores in gender equality, where Lithuania ranks 23rd in the EU on the Gender Equality Index. With a discriminatory system of contraceptive access and weak provision of sexuality education, teenage pregnancy is between two to three times higher than many other European countries, where girls from poorer background are at a higher risk of having unintended pregnancies. Long-acting reversable contraceptives, which would be covered by the scheme, are recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as the first-line contraceptive for girls due to their safety and efficacy. Caroline Hickson, Regional Director at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network said: ‘It is regrettable to see the Minister second guess a decision that would have profound impact on the reproductive lives of Lithuanian women and girls. We hope the Minister listens to the scientific consensus on contraceptive protection and stands firm against the machinations of groups that lack accurate knowledge and fuel fears based on misinformation.’ Contraceptive reimbursement is an established practice across Europe where it has been shown to increase contraceptive use among vulnerable groups, including young women. In the Netherlands, a combination of contraceptive reimbursement and the provision of high-quality sexuality education has led to high contraceptive prevalence among young people, where 90% use contraception during first intercourse. Rates of teenage pregnancy are also low in Slovenia which considers contraception a constitutional right that is covered by compulsory health insurance. The Minister’s hesitation over contraceptive reimbursement follows controversy over his recent recommendation that women ‘reconsider’ their need for abortion during the coronavirus lockdown. While he had previously indicated opposition to banning abortion, critics have noted a recent negative turn on reproductive safety and posit connection between this and the upcoming elections in October. Caroline Hickson continued: ‘Time and again we see the health and safety of women and girls put up for debate – this must end. Contraceptive care is a touchstone of gender equality and respect for women’s dignity, it is unacceptable to deprive women and girls of the care they need.’   For press inquiries: Cosmina Marian, Communications Advisor, International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network: [email protected] / +32 495 339 380

BecauseSheCounts campaign
news item

| 28 May 2020

Because She Counts campaign on sexual and reproductive care

European donor governments have proved their commitment to women and girls’ safety and freedom through their policy and funding decisions on sexual and reproductive care. This campaign, developed under the umbrella of the Countdown 2030 Europe project, will reflect on the progress made so far and on the impact of the current health crisis on the achievements made. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues the determination of European donors must not waver. Around the world, sexual and reproductive care providers and advocates know that people still need access to contraception and other services, even in the midst of a pandemic. A continuation of the current lockdowns can leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Another six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence. We are asking European donors to maintain current and future Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding and to support civil society, partner countries and multilateral organisations through a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes critical investments in health and support to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our #BecauseSheCounts social media campaign asks decision-makers to put universal health care, human rights, equality and at the core of all public policy and funding decision, amid the pandemic and always. To join our campaign, share our #BecauseSheCounts messages and visuals and tag us @C2030Europe! Ask your governments to continue to prove that solidarity goes beyond borders and should not be limited to European Union countries. The campaign assets.

BecauseSheCounts campaign
news_item

| 28 May 2020

Because She Counts campaign on sexual and reproductive care

European donor governments have proved their commitment to women and girls’ safety and freedom through their policy and funding decisions on sexual and reproductive care. This campaign, developed under the umbrella of the Countdown 2030 Europe project, will reflect on the progress made so far and on the impact of the current health crisis on the achievements made. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues the determination of European donors must not waver. Around the world, sexual and reproductive care providers and advocates know that people still need access to contraception and other services, even in the midst of a pandemic. A continuation of the current lockdowns can leave 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries unable to use modern contraceptives, leading to a projected 7 million additional unintended pregnancies. Another six months of lockdowns could result in an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence. We are asking European donors to maintain current and future Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding and to support civil society, partner countries and multilateral organisations through a comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes critical investments in health and support to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our #BecauseSheCounts social media campaign asks decision-makers to put universal health care, human rights, equality and at the core of all public policy and funding decision, amid the pandemic and always. To join our campaign, share our #BecauseSheCounts messages and visuals and tag us @C2030Europe! Ask your governments to continue to prove that solidarity goes beyond borders and should not be limited to European Union countries. The campaign assets.