Starting in 2022, birth control will be available to women in France aged 18 to 25 for free, expanding an existing program for minors that seeks to prevent unwanted pregnancies because of the cost of birth control.
French officials believe that up to 3 million women could benefit from enhanced access to the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and jabs.
The expansion of access was announced back in September, after surveys found that teens were not using contraceptives as much because it was not affordable.
“As of January 1, 2022, the health insurance system will cover the cost of contraception and related procedures (annual consultation with a doctor or midwife, and biological tests) without advance payment,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Women ‘very vulnerable’ at young age
French teens already had free access to contraceptives, as is the case in several other European countries such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway.
In the UK, contraception is free for all ages.
“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,” a spokeswoman for the French women’s rights group En Avant Tous, Louise Delavier, told the AFP news agency.
Leslie Fonquerne, a sociologist focused on gender issues, told AFP that the measure was a start but “in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men.”