As French President Emmanuel Macron prepares for a 2022 election campaign, his Health Minister Olivier Veran has made a bold announcement for young women: access to free birth control.
Starting from January 1 2022, in a move that will cost 21 million euros (AUD$33.7 million) a year, women up to the age of 25 will be able to access free contraception, an extension of France’s current initiative providing free birth control up to the age of 18.
Macron’s government says there’s been a decline in contraception use among young women due to financial reasons, and this adjustment aims to change that.
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Minister Veron told France 2 TV that: “It is unbearable that women cannot protect themselves, cannot have access to contraception if they want to make that choice because it is too expensive.”
The plan includes free medical visits for discussions on contraception and extends on other initiatives France offers women, including free abortions for all women and girls (no age limits apply).
Veron added that the age of 25 was chosen as the limit because that offers the age that corresponds “in terms of economic life, social life and income, with more autonomy.”
This is not a world first, a number of other European countries also offer varying access to free contraception, including Britain and France.
France’s latest announcement – alongside the fact it offers free abortion – comes following very different changes to women’s reproductive health in other parts of the world. Notably in Texas, which has just banned abortions beyond the age of six weeks via new laws that gives citizens the ability to sue abortion providers as well as anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.
But elsewhere, abortions have been decriminalised in recent months, particularly in central and South America, including in Mexico where the Supreme Court unanimously ruled 10-0 to make the change this week.
Pictured above: International Women’s Day protest in Paris, March 8 2020.