Italy may fund birth control even as birth rates continue to plummet

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One of many countries facing a demographic crisis, Italy has been trying to boost birth rates in recent years. Now, the government is apparently looking to help prevent them by funding birth control.

EuroNews reported that the Italian government is prepared to make birth control “free” of cost to women, through the Pricing and Reimbursement Committee (CPR) of AIFA, the Italian Medicines Agency. The agency’s board of directors must approve the decision, and it will then immediately take effect. Giovanna Scroccaro, AIFA president, told local media that this was an important decision for the agency to make.

“In Italy there has always been little recourse to contraception and this will now change,” she said. “It is difficult to say, however, since there has been no negotiation of prices for these products, that a 25 euro pill is better than those that cost 10 euros.”

Yet not everyone is celebrating the decision. “There is nothing more dangerous for women’s health than trivialising issues that impact them directly, such as abortion, contraception, gender and prostitution,” Maria Rachele Ruiu, board member for Pro Vita & Famiglia, a pro-life group, said.

Massimo Gandolfini, leader of Family Day, another pro-life group, added, “The resources used could have been allocated to alleviate the serious conditions of families with disabled children who need very expensive drugs that are not provided free of charge.”

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Italy is one of numerous countries facing a demographic crisis, and has moved to incentivize childbirth in recent years. A report from the Italian National Institute of Statistics pointed out that Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, with the elderly making up a quarter of the population.

“The future of the population — fewer residents, more older people, smaller families,” the report said. “The age structure of the population already shows a high imbalance in favour of the older generations and there are currently no factors that might suggest a reversal of this trend… Demographic forecasts show that there is little likelihood of a turnaround in the number of births in the years to come.”

Italy’s government passed legislation providing monthly allowances for families as well. Yet this move to provide birth control for “free” seems counter-productive to a country in a demographic crisis, with the wrong goal — preventing births — seemingly taking priority now over encouraging them.

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