Birth Control Around The World

Living in the UK a liberal country where we have autonomy over our own bodies and decisions, it can be hard to fathom why and how not everyone has the same choices as us. The spotlight fell on the issue of family planning recently and birth control around the world with the overturning in the US of the 1973 landmark legal ruling Roe v Wade. Another seemingly liberal country who decided to remove women’s rights and access to health services.

Contraceptive use and access to effective family planning techniques have been key to improving women’s health, well-being and autonomy.

The World Health Organisation notes that preventing unintended pregnancies helps to reduce the number of pregnancy-related deaths and lower maternal ill-health. It also cuts the need for unsafe abortions and allows women and girls to participate more fully in education, employment and wider society.  

But the fact is, access to birth control and abortions differs significantly around the world.

Lovima has created an interactive map featuring a selection of countries from across the world. You’ll find information on the accessibility of contraception, the availability of over-the-counter contraceptives and details on abortion laws for each nation.



Birth Control Around The World

In Great Britain, it’s easy to access various types of birth control, including the mini pill, combined pill, coils and other methods like the contraceptive patch. 

However, women in many nations don’t have this level of choice and convenience. Lovima has found that in places like sub-Saharan Africa, only slightly more than half (56%) of the need for family planning is being met by modern methods of contraception. This has a huge impact as we can see from Pakistan which has one of the highest abortion rates in the world due to limited access to contraception, as well as a lack of sex education and awareness.

Abortion laws

There are major differences in abortion laws around the world. Great Britain is one of the more liberal counties when it comes to pregnancy terminations.

Under the Abortion Act 1967, women can access abortions for personal reasons up to 23 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, and there is no gestational limit if there is evidence of significant risk to a woman’s life or a fatal foetal abnormality.

In other countries, the laws are much stricter. For example, in Poland where terminations are only legal if the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s life, or if the pregnancy has resulted from incest or rape.  Head to the Philippines, and abortion is illegal in all cases, even if the mother’s life is at risk. Doctors and midwives who perform these procedures in the Philippines can face up to six years in prison, while the women themselves can be imprisoned for between two and six years.  

Popularity and methods of contraception

Lovima has also found that the popularity of contraception and the types of birth control used also vary significantly between countries.

Figures published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs show that birth control use among women of childbearing age who are in relationships is highest in Norway (88.4%), followed closely by Finland (85.5%) and China (84.5%). At the other end of the scale, only 16.6% of Nigerian women in this category use contraception, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo the figure is only slightly higher at 28.1% and in Pakistan it’s 34%.

Want to share your own experiences or thoughts on contraception and family planning? Join the conversation with #GlobalBirthControl.


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