Where Is Birth Control Free?

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Iran has something we don't have in the United States, and it's pretty controversial — government subsidization for the contraceptive pill. The subject of governmental support for access to free birth control is especially of interest right now, following Monday's Burwell v Hobby Lobby ruling, which allows private employers with religious objections to only provide their employees with health insurance that does not cover birth control for free.

Thanks to a recent project by Slate, you can now visualize where various countries stand in terms of the public provision of the pill. Using data from Harvard University's Center for Population and Development Studies, Slate color-coded the world according to each country's rules about the contraceptive pill. The world was divided into three categories: oral contraceptives are fully subsidized (blue), partially subsidized (purple), or not at all subsidized (orange).

What's most immediately striking is the patchiness of the map. There's no real consistency within continents. For instance, Sweden subsidizes the pill (no surprises here), but Norway doesn't. Saudi Arabia offers no subsidies for the pill, but Iran hands it out for free. In fact, North America is the only continent where the pill is either free or partially subsidized everywhere. Spain and Ireland (countries with strong Catholic histories) stop Western Europe from attaining this same status.

If you're intrigued and would like to see more visuals concerning reproductive rights worldwide, the Slate article also includes interactive maps about the availability of condoms, and the legality of IUDs, abortions, and rape.