Clare Laxton is Policy and Parliamentary Manager at FPA, one of the UK’s leading sexual health charities – find out more about the campaign at www.wecantgobackwards.org.uk
We’ve written before about the importance of contraception choice and being able to access contraception service that offer a range of contraceptive methods to choose from. Over the past 18 months we’ve been noticing a gradual undermining of some of our hard-earned sexual health rights. For example, we’ve discovered the extent to which some women are being restricted in accessing contraception services and noticed more protestors outside abortion clinics and sexual health services.
So, FPA and Brook, two of the UK’s leading sexual health charities, are fighting back and this week are launching their first joint campaign called XES – We Can’t Go Backwards.
XES – We Can’t Go Backwards is a long-term campaign but our initial focus is on access to contraception and finding out more about the restrictions people are experiencing when they are trying to access contraception. We know that sometimes:
- People are prevented from accessing contraception services (maybe because they are over 25 years old or do not live in the area)
- People aren’t offered the full range of contraceptive choices
- Sexual health and contraception services are closing or operating under reduced opening times
In fact, a recent report by the Advisory Group on Contraception, Sex, lives and commissioning, calculated that over 3.2 million women of reproductive age (15-44) are living in areas where fully comprehensive contraception services are not provided. This represents about a third of women in England of reproductive age. The report also found that the average abortion rate for areas which had some form of restriction in access to contraception was higher than the national average.
We believe that contraceptive choice is a right and we want to find out more about how cuts to services, changes to policy and increased anti-choice activity might be affecting service users. We’re asking people to add their voice to the campaign by telling us about their experiences of accessing contraception and where services are found wanting, work with us to demand better.
At the heart of the campaign will be a map where we will be asking people to plot and rate their experience of accessing contraceptive and sexual health services in their area.
We would love Progressive Women readers to support the campaign by:
- Going to the website and share it with colleagues to help us understand where access to sexual health and contraceptive services is good, and where it could be better.
- Joining the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #cantgoback (follow us at @XEScampaign and ‘like’ our facebook page
- If you have a website, linking to the campaign from your site – we have buttons and banners, please just contact us.
We believe that access to high quality contraception services is a right, not a luxury. So check out the website, tell your stories and we can make sure that access to our sexual health services don’t go backwards!
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