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This companion briefing to the State of World Population 2012 Report, "By Choice, Not By Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development", focuses on how the issues discussed in the global report apply specifically to the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.
Middle-income countries are often characterized by high inequalities in terms of access to healthcare, and present diverse population dynamics such as low fertility, ageing and migration. In this context, population policies in many middle income countries in the EECA region are focused on encouraging population growth and raising the fertility rate.

To do this, many governments introduced incentives for pregnant women and increased access to maternal and neonatal health services. However, family planning services have not been given much attention in the effort to increase fertility, and in some countries, access to family planning education and support to access and choice of contraceptives by the public health sector has been reduced.

One of the reasons for reducing political and financial support to family planning is a belief that family planning negatively affects fertility rates. But this is not necessarily the case as the fact check shows.

Misunderstanding about the correlation between family planning, contraceptive use and fertility have led to proposals in the public sphere that include limiting access to family planning services in order to increase fertility rates. However, as history shows, such policies endanger the reproductive health of women and families and can actually lower the fertility rate.

In order to dispel misconceptions about family planning, contraception and population growth in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the following document examines the issues in a regional context. It provides facts and figures, as well as human stories, to illustrate just what family planning means for people, and how policies on family planning affect their lives.