This Map Shows How the U.S. Handles Birth Control Compared to the Rest of the World

The news: With its ruling on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the idea that closely-held corporations, like people, can express and have rights based on religious beliefs. That means that 90% of American corporations are now free to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraceptives, although it is likely that many will decide not to do so.

In light of recent events, Slate used data from Harvard University's Center for Population and Development Studies to put together an updated map that shows which countries around the world provide free birth control pills to the public. To put this in perspective: Iran is one of them, the U.S. is not.

Check out the full map below (and click here for the interactive version):


Image Credit: Slate

The takeaway: As Vox's Zack Beauchamp notes, the one thing that really sticks out on the map above is "the total lack of consistency" within regions. While most of Western Europe offers free birth control pills, countries with strong Catholic roots — Spain and Ireland — don't. And while nearly all the post-Soviet satellite states deny coverage for the pill, Russia itself offers state subsidies.

"This suggests there's no clear consensus, regionally, about the state's proper role in providing birth control," Beauchamp adds.

As for the U.S., that role is being reverted back to individual companies to decide whether or not they want to support contraceptive coverage for their employees — it is out of the government's, and therefore the voter's, hands for now.

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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