Calculated Injustice: The Slovak Republic's Failure to Ensure Access to Contraceptives

Women and adolescent girls in Slovakia face numerous barriers to accessing modern contraceptives and contraceptive information. Because contraceptives are not covered by public health insurance, their users must pay the full price out of pocket. Some women and adolescent girls—especially the most vulnerable ones, such as those with low incomes or in violent relationships—lack the means to do so. Others are forced by the high cost of hormonal contraceptives to resort to low-quality versions that may not be best suited for them or to unreliable traditional methods of family planning such as coitus interruptus (withdrawal). One month’s supply of oral contraception ranges from 7 euros (€) to over €15; a one-time dose of emergency contraception costs about €22; and an intrauterine device costs about €158—prices that are out of reach for many women. The latest available figures, from 2009, put the median monthly income for women in Slovakia at €562.51. The poverty line for a one-person household was €283 per month, and up to 11.9% of women were at risk of poverty in 2009. For young women, the costs are also prohibitive. As one pharmacist noted, young women often cannot afford emergency contraception and instead opt to purchase a pregnancy test at less than one-fifth the cost.

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