Calls for free contraception to be more widely available in the Channel Islands

  • The theme of this year's International Women's Day is 'embrace equity', but many women say that isn't the case when it comes to birth control

Women across the Channel Islands say contraception should no longer be seen as a 'luxury', with the price currently setting them back up to £100.

Around one in four people across Jersey and Guernsey fall into the age bracket where contraception could be necessary. 

While condoms are free for all, 2% of women using this method become pregnant.

Currently, most women cannot get free birth control over the age of 21 in Guernsey and 22 in Jersey. However, in the UK, it's been free for all since 1967.

One women's health GP in Jersey, Dr Jessica Langtree-Marsh, feels this can lead to unsafe options being chosen.

She said: "Often if women can't afford the consultation for contraception, we might pick the option that either is the cheapest or it needs the least monitoring, and often some of those options come with side effects.

"Access to family planning without coercion or barriers is a human right and I would love to see contraception to be made free for all women."

Dr Jessica Langtree-Marsh see's less people coming through her door for contraception than before. Credit: ITV Channel TV

A Jersey Mum says she's tried every form of contraception available, but now wants a more permanent solution.

Kelly Vallois wants to be sterilised, but that also comes with a price tag. So for now, she's taking the pill.

"I've had to go for my cheapest option," she said.

"It's not the best option for me, but at the moment, it's what I can do.

"I just don't have the money to be paying for an operation that might not work, and then I'm back to square one again."

Kelly hasn't found a type of contraception with no side effects yet. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Jersey's Health Minister, Deputy Karen Wilson, is currently looking into a new Women's Health Policy, which she believes will tackle this problem.

She said: "What we need to do is we need to be listening to women and we need to be responding to their issues and their concerns around this.

"And as I say the development of the work around the women's health strategy, I believe will actually address some of these issues."

One of Jersey's sexual health clinics, Le Bas Centre, is government-run, so treatments are subsidised by the Health Department:

Deputy Wilson will be starting consultations on the Women's Health Policy in September.

She'll be talking to women and their partners about what they would like to see included, and what matters to them most.

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