Women under 25 in France will soon get birth control—including the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches, and other methods—for free. President Emmanuel Macron's government said Thursday that it would expand an existing program offering free contraception to women under 18 beginning next year as affordability is proving an issue. Health Minister Olivier Veran said surveys showed a decline in contraception use among "a certain number of young women" whose "main reason for this is financial. It costs too much," per AFP and the Guardian. He said visits to a doctor for reasons related to contraception would also be free for women under 25.
"This will cover hormonal contraception, biological tests that go with it, the prescription of contraception and all care related to this contraception up until the age of 25," Veran told France 2, per the Guardian. "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," Veran added, per Deutsche Welle. He said the cut-off age of 25 was chosen as women of that age are no longer covered by their parents’ health insurance and generally have more financial independence.
The government began offering free contraception to girls aged 15 to 18 in 2013, per the Guardian. This resulted in a drop in the number of abortions among this age group, from 9.5 per 1,000 girls in 2012 to six per 1,000 girls in 2018, per AFP. France then expanded the program to include all women under 18 in August 2020. The latest expansion—to take effect on Jan. 1 ahead of national elections later in 2022—is expected to cost almost $25 million per year. Abortions are already free for all women and girls in France, per the AP. The outlet notes Britain, Spain, and several other European countries also offer free or subsidized contraception. (Read more birth control stories.)