Strengthening the Right to Access to Contraceptives Choice for People with Low Income

12th March 2015
Strengthening the Right to Access to Contraceptives Choice for People with Low Income. Pro familia launches petition to be presented to the German parliament.

Pro familia launches petition to be presented to the German parliament

If you do not have much money in Germany, there are a lot of things you have to go without. When that includes contraceptives, it can be disastrous. Studies show that women change their contraceptive behaviour when they are in financial need: they switch to cheaper and less reliable forms of contraception or use no contraception at all, thus risking an unwanted pregnancy. pro familia wants to raise awareness of this with a public petition to parliament and is calling for a change in legislation.

 “We need a lasting nationwide solution for people who cannot meet the cost of con- traception from their own means. After all, each individual has the right – regardless of their social status – to choose the method of contraception that does not present a risk to their health and provides the greatest possible reliability,” says Prof. Daphne Hahn, President of pro familia federal branch.

 In the current situation, the choice of contraception is no longer determined by health and personal reasons but by financial reasons. Where you live is decisive, since there are projects in individual local authorities for covering costs, although these are most- ly short-term. And there are no legal grounds for claiming for costs to be covered.

 Up until 2004, German social legislation included what was known as “Family Plan- ning Assistance”, through which the social welfare authority covered the cost of con- traceptives prescribed by a doctor. As a result of Hartz IV legislation, this option no longer exists. Now, women and men who receive Unemployment Benefit II (subsis- tence allowance) or Basic Security (for jobseekers) get by on an allowance of €17 said to be for “health care”. All spending on health, such as headache tablets, hay fever treatment and even the pill, needs comes under this item.

 “It is often argued that even women on UB II are able to pay for the cheapest pill. Re- gardless of the fact that the cost of contraception was not taken in to account when the standard rate was laid down, this invalidates freedom of choice with respect to contraceptives. Added to that is the fact that many women are unable to take the pill,” says Hahn.

 A monthly pack of pills costs between €4.50 and €22, while a vaginal ring costs bet- ween €16 and €22 per month. Coils and implants provide reliable contraception for several years and are more cost-effective in the long term. Hartz IV unemployment benefit claimants cannot afford the one-off cost of €300-400 from the standard rate, nor are regular savings possible.

 “It is a subject that comes up frequently in counselling sessions – that there’s not enough money for contraceptives. We are therefore calling on politicians to introduce a bill to cover costs. Ultimately, Germany too is committed to the Programme of Ac- tion adopted at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. This expressly states that all women and men have the right to unrestricted access to the safest and most effective, acceptable and affordable methods of family planning.”

pro familia has submitted a petition to the German parliament [Bundestag] which is available to sign online until 1st April. The link to sign to petition, latest information and factsheets on the subject are available on the campaign webpage [in German].

 www.profamilia.de/pro-familia/kampagne-kostenfreie-verhuetungsmittel.html March 10, 2015