Access To Contraception Is Fundamental Right

Sustainable Population Australia

Media release for World Health Day, 7 April 2024

On the eve of World Health Day, the theme of which is ‘My Health, My Right’, Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) says that the right to health must include the right to sexual, reproductive and maternal healthcare services, and most importantly, access to contraception.

Among the 1.9 billion women of reproductive age group (15-49 years) worldwide in 2021, 164 million had an unmet need for contraception.

And according to the 2023 report of the Senate Committee Inquiry into Reproductive Health: ‘… Australians do not currently have consistent access to sexual, reproductive and maternal healthcare services, and that this particularly disadvantages people living in regional and remote Australia.’

SPA national president Jenny Goldie says these disadvantages for women in regional and remote Australia include a lack of local services, misinformation, increased costs, increased stigma and issues around confidentiality.

“Access to contraception is fundamental to women’s physical and mental health,” says Ms Goldie.

“It is a fundamental right to be able to choose if and when to have children,” says Ms Goldie.

“Women must have access to a full range of contraception, including short-acting and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), so they can choose what is best for them.

“It is thus concerning to hear that Australian women are currently in a struggle to access non-hormonal copper intrauterine devices (IUDs).

“In war-torn countries, of which there are many these days, women and girls face increased risks of sexual violence and urgently need sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including access to contraceptive information and services. Unfortunately, women are often prevented from accessing these services, or access is delayed.

“For instance, emergency contraception drugs required a prescription in Ukraine. In September last year, Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the Ukrainian Minister for Health, urging him to remove obstacles to access to emergency contraception.

“Human Rights Watch claimed the requirement for prescription ‘is impractical and likely to cause harmful delays and negatively impact women’s ability to seek and receive necessary and time-sensitive treatment.’

“Whether it is emergency or short-term or LARCs, and whether they are metropolitan or rural or in a conflict zone, women and adolescent girls must have ready access to contraception as they need it,” says Ms Goldie.

/Public Release. View in full here.