France Makes Free Birth Control Available To Women Under 25
Free birth control for women under 25 is now available in France. The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.
“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP. Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done. “This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said. In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right. In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control. But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020. Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.
Young women in France will have free access to contraception, including birth control pills and condoms. The government has agreed to a proposal by Minister for Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol to provide all women under 25 with free contraception as part of France’s effort to combat high abortion rates.
In order to pay for the cost of contraceptives, the new program would raise taxes on tobacco products by about one euro per pack or packet of cigarettes, as well as an increase of about 3% on beer and 10% on hard liquor.
The birth rate among French teens is currently at a thirty year low , but social pressures continue to push young people towards abortions. One major contributor is the lack of available contraception, especially among those under 25. Over 200,000 abortions are performed each year in the country of about 65 million people, and it is estimated that half of those could have been avoided if better contraceptive measures were available .
The under-25 demographic represents a major population group that has been targeted by this proposal. According to a recent study published in The British Medical Journal , “the provision of free contraception significantly reduced abortion rates across the whole age range among women living in highly disadvantaged areas.”
About thirteen percent of all French citizens live below the poverty line, which means that many young families struggle to provide for their children while also paying for food and shelter. For some it may mean forgoing birth control or practicing unsafe sex because they cannot afford contraception on top of the other basic necessities, putting them at a greater risk for unwanted pregnancy and abortion. The new legislation seeks to alleviate this problem by providing all forms of contraception free of charge.
Women’s Rights Minister Laurence Rossignol said recently on English radio broadcaster France Info that the government is working to create programs “that will allow women to have access to abortions if they so choose.”
In 2012 , abortion rates in France were about 16.0 per 100 live births . In comparison, statistics from the United States indicate that there are about 19.1 abortions per 100 live births each year. The French parliament must approve the bill before it can be implemented as law later this month, but since President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party controls a majority of seats, the bill’s passage is expected.