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France: Payment for Abortions and for Contraceptives for Minors

(Nov. 7, 2012) On October 26, 2012, the National Assembly, the lower house of <?France's legislature, approved a bill to extend government payment for abortions to all French women. Previously, only minors and low-income women were eligible for reimbursement for the costs of abortions. The payment would be up to €450 (about US$582) for each procedure. Abortion has been legal in France since 1976. In addition, the bill extends free contraception to all minors aged 15 to 18. The bill is expected to pass in the Senate, the upper house of the legislature. (Jaimie Cremeans, France Lawmakers Approve Bill to Pay for Abortions, Contraceptives for Minors, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Oct. 27, 2012).)

The bill was included in the 2013 social security budget and reflects a promise made by President Francois Hollande before his election. (France’s Lower House Approves Free Abortions Bill, FRANCE 24 (Oct. 26, 2012).)

The goal of putting greater free access to contraception in place is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and thus the number of abortions, in France. Martine Hatchuel, the president of a French association that counsels women on reproductive issues, praised the passage of the bill, stating, “[m]inors should have access to contraception and it should be free and anonymous.” (Id.) However, she went on to suggest that the free access to contraception should be extended to age 25, stating that “just because a girl reaches 18 doesn’t mean she is out of the woods … .” (Id.)

Others have argued that price is not the only barrier to abortion access, stating that too few doctors perform the procedure and information about which doctors do perform abortions is not easily available. The new program, once enacted, will cost an estimated €31.7 million (about US$41 million) in the first year. (Id.)