Free contraception for 18-25 year olds, a useful measure or a bad idea?

The pill, free up to 25 years: the announcement was made by the Minister of Health in September 2021. From 1er January, “There will be support for hormonal contraception, the biological assessment that can go with it, the prescription consultation and all the care that is related to this contraception”, had specified Olivier Véran, on France 2. All without advance of costs. At the origin of the measure, already offered to 15-18 year olds, an economic argument: if contraception is on the decline “In a certain number of young women”, it would be mainly for “Financial reasons”.

A reason for renouncing confirmed by Janine Mossuz-Lavau, research director at the CNRS and author of the survey Sexual life in France (1). “The economic criterion can play a role: at that age, either one starts to be a little financially independent and the cost remains a brake. Either one is still dependent on one’s parents and some young girls may feel uncomfortable depending on parental subsidies for contraception. “

However, “The cost is not necessarily the main obstacle”, she nuances. There are other reasons for rejecting the pill. Some very down to earth, like “The fear of gaining weight”. Others, more profound, linked to personal, religious or, often, ecological convictions, based on “Refusal to administer chemical hormones to the body”, continues the researcher. Other arguments, again, “Feed on the fear of side effects (thrombosis, stroke). In these cases, free does not solve anything ”.

A diagnosis shared by Sarah Durocher, co-president of Family Planning, who regrets a lack of ambition. “Removing the financial barrier will be a facilitator. But that will not be enough to make contraception accessible to all. “ For her, the “Real brake” is “The lack of education on reproductive health”: “This free education should be accompanied by an information campaign aimed at the public and professionals”, adds Sarah Durocher.

More broadly, by facilitating the use of contraception, the government hopes “Limit the Abortion for this age group “, includes Pascale Morinière, president of the Catholic Family Associations (AFC). Based on a precedent: free contraception, granted to 15-18 year-olds in 2013, led to a drop in their abortion rate, from 9.5 to 6 per 1,000 between 2012 and 2018.

“But this is a false argument, because at the time, without the introduction of free, the rate of abortion had also fallen among 18-19 year olds”, points out Pascale Morinière who insists: “We would be wrong to believe that free is everything or that all-contraceptives are the panacea. 72% of abortions occur on women on contraception. If we want to avoid abortions, it is upstream that we must act, through sexuality education. ” In a divided debate, this point, at least, is unanimous.


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