Disadvantaged women to get free birth control under government plan

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The Latvian government will cover the costs for contraceptives for women exposed to social exclusion risks, according to the Mother and Child Health Improvement Plan for 2018-2020 prepared by the Health Ministry.

The Health Ministry said that availability of free contraceptives would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and maternal deaths among the women exposed to social exclusion risks. It is planned that this particular measure will be launched in 2019.

Welfare Ministry representative Viktorija Bolsakova said that the ministry had no objections to the Health Ministry proposal for the government-paid contraceptives to the women, who cannot buy contraceptives themselves due to poverty or other crisis situations.

But she stressed that social workers were not in a position to hand out prescriptions or to make those women take pills. All they could do was to provide information about how to receive medical advice on family planning and contraceptives and in fact were already doing this, although some additional training might be needed before the government started supplying free contraceptives.

The suggestion to supply free contraceptives to socially underprivilegeded families on request was made by Papardes Zieds, a Latvian NGO for reproductive and sexual health.

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