France introduces free contraception for all women under 25 years of age

Free contraception for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, extending a system aimed at those under 18 to ensure that young women do not stop taking contraceptives because they cannot afford it.

The system, which can benefit three million women, includes birth control pills, IUDs, birth control patches and other methods that consist of steroid hormones.

Contraceptives for minors were already free in France. Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraceptives free of charge for teenagers.

The UK makes several forms of contraception free for everyone.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a reduction in contraceptive use, mainly for economic reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to strengthen women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty.

The free offer 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 many rights compared to when they were minors and are very financially insecure,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert on gender issues, said there was more to do.

“This measure does not in any way solve the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” said the sociologist.

In some developed countries, the free contraceptives that women have won after decades of campaigning are being attacked again from the religious right.

In the United States, former President Barack Obama’s distinctive health care reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to contraception.

But his successor, Donald Trump, scrapped the measure and made it possible for employers to opt out of contraception on religious grounds – a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s Conservative government has also severely restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on contraception.

(AFP)

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