Is the UK going backwards on contraception?
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17 September 2012
In Sexual Health Week, Brook and FPA launch awareness campaign to protect contraceptive rights and choice.
The UK’s leading sexual health charities, Brook and FPA, are today calling for immediate action to stop the worrying erosion of contraceptive rights and choice in the UK.
The two charities have joined forces to launch XES – We Can’t Go Backwards, a major awareness campaign. A growing body of evidence is proving that choice is being restricted and rights are being eroded. The charities are warning of a ‘toxic mix’ of circumstances combining to create a looming crisis in unplanned pregnancy, abortion and sexual health, unless urgent action is taken.
This nationwide assault on choice and quality has been largely invisible, but two recent reports point to a disturbing future for contraception services in the UK:
- 3.2 million women of reproductive age (15-44) are served by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) that limit their access to contraception services and advice*
- There is strong evidence that women across the country over the age of 25 are the worst affected and are being denied contraception based on age, residency and method**
- An absolute correlation between areas with restrictions in contraception and higher than average abortion rates***
The findings are supported by Brook and FPA’s anecdotal experiences: both organisations are receiving an increasing number of enquiries from concerned members of the public, unable to gain access to the advice, products and services they need.
FPA Chief Executive, Julie Bentley, commented: “We are seeing the beginnings of a crisis in this critical women’s health issue. Modern contraception is effective in stopping unplanned pregnancy and is also highly cost effective. But it is simply useless if women are stopped from accessing and using it. A woman’s reproductive years span over half of her lifetime and every reproductive choice she makes carries social, economic, and personal consequences. There’s a genuine risk that we’re slipping back to the dark ages. We cannot stand by and wait for the crisis to happen – we’ve got to act now.”
Brook Chief Executive, Simon Blake, added: “A blend of different circumstances in sexual health are forming into a toxic mix. Services are being cut, and budgets reduced, the national sexual health and teenage pregnancy strategies have ended, the NHS is being radically reformed and there are attempts by a small vociferous minority to undermine women’s reproductive rights.
He continued: “By working with the public to understand the true scale of the problem, this campaign will help to protect the improvements made in recent years so everyone can access the contraception and advice they are entitled to. We simply cannot and must not go backwards.”
Janet Wilson from British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and Chris Wilkinson from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said: “We know from our members who are clinicians working in Sexual & Reproductive Health that some services are now being reduced or restricted despite demonstrable need. This will affect the ability of patients to get the services and support they need. In recent years considerable progress has been made to reduce waiting times and improving access to contraception. We support this Brook and FPA campaign as it aims to give voice to real people's stories and make sure that we don't go backwards.”
Brook and FPA are calling on people in the UK to join the campaign and rate and share their experiences of contraception services good and bad through the UK’s only interactive online sexual health map www.wecantgobackwards.org.uk
Notes to editors
- Natalie Collyer, Brook: 020 7284 6062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rebecca Findlay, FPA: 020 7608 5265 or email email@example.com
Brook is the UK’s leading provider of sexual health services and advice for young people under 25. The charity has over 45 years of experience working with young people and currently has services in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey. Brook services provide free and confidential sexual health information, contraception, pregnancy testing, advice and counselling, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and outreach and education work, reaching more than 294,000 young people every year.
Ask Brook helpline 0808 802 1234.
The sexual health charity FPA provides straightforward information, advice and support to all people across the UK on all aspects of sexual health, sex and relationships. FPA educates, informs and supports people through our work in the community, our helpline and information service, our counselling service, our training and publications and our public awareness campaigns.
FPA helpline 0845 122 8690