<\body> Stories in America: Hungary Wants to Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hungary Wants to Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies

Amazing. Hungary is considering subsidizing birth-control pills, while states in this country are passing legislation that allows pharmacists to refuse to dispense the pill and eliminates funding for low-income women who can't afford the pill:
State support for the pill, combined with education, could encourage women to avoid unprotected sex, Mihaly Kokeny, the country's commissioner for public health coordination, said in an interview. Hungary's leading contraceptives maker, Budapest-based Gedeon Richter Rt., has been pushing the idea for years.

The proposal may help Hungary's health insurance system, which has run a deficit for the past decade, save money by reducing spending on abortions, supporters say. Hungary's National Health Insurance Fund spent 1.4 billion forint ($6.9 million) to end pregnancies in 2004, more than the cost of a year's supply of birth-control pills for each patient.

"We, in Hungary, are fighting against abortions," Kokeny said. "It's insurance-subsidized family planning. On the other hand, contraceptives are not subsidized. Not at all. So things have to be considered."

Kokeny, a former health minister, has been a leading campaigner for what he calls "responsible sex." In February, he held a ceremony to unveil a condom vending machine at a Budapest university.

Hungary's abortion rate has dropped 42 percent since the end of communist rule in 1990, but remains one of the highest in the region, according to World Health Organization statistics.


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