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Espoo greenlights free contraceptives for women under 20

Espoo city officials have approved a plan to provide free long- and short-term contraceptives for women under the age of 20. The measures include a nine-month course of birth control pills or long-lasting contraceptives such as intra-uterine devices or sub-dermal implants. The city’s social affairs and health committee must still endorse the proposal before it can be rolled out.

Image: Yle

The Espoo city council has given a green light to a plan to provide free contraception to young female residents.

The unanimous decision taken Monday night means that the city will in future provide young women under the age of 20 with contraceptive options including a nine-month supply of birth control pills or longer-lasting contraceptives, such as intra-uterine devices or sub-dermal implants.

Young mothers between the ages of 20 and 24 will also be introduced in the contraceptive programme as part of their post-natal checkups.

Responsibility for implementing the contraceptive programme will be in the hands of school and student nurses, youth sexual health advisory offices and health centres. The city also plans to distribute condoms in other locations and situations where large numbers of adolescents gather.

Greens city councilor Saara Hyrkö was behind the initiative. She argued that free contraception would encourage their use and would reduce the number of abortions performed on young women.

Vantaa and Kauniainen in the lead

Although councilors voted unanimously to adopt the measure, it will not take effect before it is separately approved by the city’s social affairs and health committee.

Espoo currently provides free hormonal contraception for a three-month period for new contraception users. Students are also able to get condoms from school nurses.

Other capital region cities Vantaa and Kauniainen have already introduced free contraception for young adults. Kauniainen provides free contraception to all of its under-21 residents, while Vantaa offers all women under the age of 20 who are new to contraception regimes a nine-month course of hormonal contraception.

Both the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL have been long-time advocates of providing free contraceptives to young adults in a bid to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions and to prevent the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases.