France’s lower house approves free abortions bill
French women will have greater access to abortions after the Lower House voted Friday to fully reimburse the procedure as well as provide free contraception to teenagers aged between 15 and 18 years old. The bill now passes to France’s Upper House.
France is set to reimburse 100 percent of the cost for all abortions, and provide free contraception to girls aged between 15 and 18 under a bill passed by France’s Lower House on Friday.
At present French women can only claim back between 70 and 80% for the operation, which can cost up to 450 euros.
The move to full reimbursement is designed to improve women’s access to abortions, and was included in the 2013 social security budget and a specific campaign promise of President Francois Hollande.
By allowing free contraception, France hopes to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
The much publicised move was welcomed by Martine Hatchuel, president of ANCIC, the French Association which counsels women on contraception and abortion. “It’s about time,” she said previously. “Minors should have access to contraception and it should be free and anonymous. But unfortunately just because a girl reaches 18 doesn’t mean she is out of the woods, and we would like to see this extended to women aged 25.”
The reforms are set to cost the French taxpayer 31.7 million euros in the first year. Some 225,000 abortions were carried out in France in 2010, the last year for which records are available.
The measures have been criticised by some groups that complain price is only one hurdle to abortion access, with too few doctors offering the procedure and a lack of information about who does.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)