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Helsinki OKs expansion of free contraception programme for young women

Female Helsinki residents below the age of 25 will have free access to long-term contraceptive solutions, including birth control implants and intrauterine devices.

Nainen ja mies pitelevät kondomipakkausta.
File photo. Image: Kalle Mäkelä / Yle

Helsinki city councillors voted Wednesday to approve the expansion of its free-of-charge contraception programme for young residents.

Apart from free access to birth control implants and intrauterine devices, young women will also be able to receive free birth control pills or intra-vaginal rings for a period of one year.

The city also intends to broaden its condom distribution programme at schools, youth centres and contraception clinics, as well as to improve sexual counselling services for young people.

In practice, the beefed-up counselling plans include providing information about sexually transmitted diseases and contraception more broadly than it has done in the past.

Decreased costs expected due to expansion

The programme expansion initiative was made by Greens councillor Reetta Vanhanen, who said that women between the ages of 20-24 are the most likely group to have an unwanted pregnancy and abortion, compared to other women.

Councillors said that the city does not expect that the planned expansion of the contraception programme will increase budgets. Instead, broadening the programme would bring down costs due to fewer abortions.

According to national health statistics, nearly 500 women between the ages of 15-24 terminated a pregnancy during 2016. The estimated cost of terminated pregnancies amounts to some 459,000 euros per year.

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