Czech women getting far fewer abortions, but also using contraception less

The reason for this seemingly paradoxical decline is, among other things, Czechs' lower prioritization of sex.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 14.04.2023 14:17:00 (updated on 15.04.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Abortions in the Czech Republic are declining, and so too are the number of contraceptives used in Czechia. One of the main reasons for this, Seznam Zprávy writes, is that Czechs approach sex differently than in the past.

A massive decline in the last 30 years

Around 15,000 abortions are carried out every year in Czechia – a sharp decline from almost 70,000 done in 1993 (when around one in three pregnancies were aborted).

Somewhat surprisingly, the amount of women taking contraception has also been on a declining trend since 2007. Less prioritization of sex is the main cause of this development, as is a change in societal views.

"The younger generation in particular is less sexually active. They spend far more time on social networks, for example, which is also reflected in lower sexual activity"

Gynecologist Dr. Jan Greguš, Center for Outpatient Gynecology, Brno.

Czechia has also seen a decline in the use of hormonal contraception. Associate Professor at Charles University’s Department of Demography Jiřina Kocourková says that “it is also possible to assume that fewer women [today] have a permanent partner during their reproductive life, so it may not be ‘worth it’ for them to use hormonal contraception in the long term.”

Terminating a pregnancy is legal in the Czech Republic for any reason whatsoever, provided that the pregnant woman requests it in writing by the 12th week of her pregnancy. 

Better sex education in Czech schools, and the fact that sexual-awareness information is no longer taboo, have also contributed to the declining number of pregnancies. Analysts also say that people “plan their pregnancies more,” and that external factors (such as cost of living and lifestyle) have drawn people away from even contemplating having children. Czechia’s gradually falling birth rate is evidence of this.

Less contraception, but fewer abortions and babies

  • Around 877,000 women in Czechia reported taking regular contraception in 2021, from almost 1.4 million in 2007
  • Around 10 percent of all pregnancies today end in abortion
  • Women in their 30s who already have children comprise the majority of those who opt for abortions, followed by those under the age of 21 with an unstable financial background
  • The number of annual abortions on average has fallen by about 10,000 in the past decade
  • Fewer than 100,000 babies were born in Czechia in 2022 – the lowest figure since 2004

    Sources: Seznam Zprávy, European Data Journalism Network

Contraception could be more accessible

Notably, however, the relatively poor availability of contraception in Czechia could also be a contributing factor to its declining use. According to the 2023 European Contraception Policy Atlas, Czechia ranks a lowly 29th out of 46 European countries. This is because most forms of contraception in Czechia are subject to a fee (regardless of insurance), and – according to the study – the state provides insufficient financial support for contraception. 

Regardless, Czechia stands in a much better light than neighboring Poland, where access to contraceptives is constrained by the ruling government. This is a point of comparison between both countries – although abortion and contraceptive methods are declining in both, different factors drive these trends. The “Auntie Czech” mission helps Polish women obtain abortions in Czechia, where abortion laws are liberal.

The U.S. is another example of a country where abortion law is tightening. In direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s abolition of the federally guaranteed right to abortion in mid-2022, all seven Czech parliamentary parties said they saw “no reason” to change the existing legislation.  

The simultaneous decline in Czechia’s abortion rate and use of contraceptive methods may come as a surprise initially. A shift in social trends, and a combination of Czechs’ lessened focus on sex, a lower chance of staying with the same person, and better education have driven this change. 

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