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AVSC News. 1990 Apr;28(1):6-7.

Family planning in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union: are things changing?



In the postwar period, when population growth declined precipitously in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, governments in these countries adopted pronatalist population policies and restricted access to contraception. It will be interesting to observe the impact of recent social and political changes in this region on access to family planning services, including voluntary sterilization. For example, Yugloslovia is considering new legislation to make contraception more available and Romania recently overturned its restrictive abortion law. Family planning organizations in Bulgaria, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, and, most recently, the Soviet Union have affiliated with the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Clinics for the distribution of contraceptives have been established in East Germany, Hungary, and Poland. Although reliable data on contraceptive practices in this region are unavailable, traditional methods (such as withdrawal or rhythm) appear to be used most widely. Obstetricians-gynecologists, the only health care providers authorized to provide the pill and IUD, lack medical training in family planning and are often reluctant to make these methods available. Particularly inaccessible to couples in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is sterilization, referred to in Soviet legislation as a "social danger." Given the limited access to reliable means of contraception, illegal abortion is a significant means of fertility control in this region and results in thousands of deaths. Because of the diversity of cultures, religions, and ethnic groups in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, family planning services are likely to develop in the years ahead in ways specific to the individual countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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