PARIS (AP) — France will offer free birth control to all women up to age 25 starting next year, the health minister announced Thursday.
The measure will also include free medical visits about contraception, and will start Jan. 1, Health Minister Olivier Veran announced on France-2 television.
All contraceptive methods were already free for girls up to 18 years old, and that is being expanded to all women up to 25. Abortions in France are free for everyone.
Veran said young women are using contraception less than they used to, and that the main reason is financial. He didn’t cite specific data. France’s state health care system covers some birth control costs but not all of them.
“It’s intolerable that women aren’t able to to protect themselves, aren’t able to use contraception if they make that choice, because it would cost too much,” Veran said.
The measure will cost the government about 21 million euros (nearly $25 million) per year, he said.
“Finally!” tweeted Alyssa Ahrabare of activist group Osez le feminisme. “The high price of medical consultations and contraception blocks access for several women to this essential right that allows them to keep control of their bodies and lives.”
The health minister didn’t address contraception methods for men, or specify whether the measure would apply to trans and nonbinary people. The Health Ministry did not respond to queries seeking clarification.
Several other European countries offer free or subsidized contraception. Contraceptive methods cost nothing in Britain, for example, and Spain’s health system provides funding for 48 different birth control methods, and those administered in health centers are free.
French President Emmanuel Macron Says Someone Who Refuses COVID Vaccine Is ‘Not a Citizen’
French president Macron’s desire to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated individuals triggers outrage
Macron spoke candidly during an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, during which he said that he wanted to make life difficult for individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The French “sanitary pass” has prompted a number of protests and stiff opposition while the country nears 75% full vaccination.
“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” Macron said three months ahead of a presidential election. “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison, so we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The French Parliament heard Macron’s comments during a debate over his proposed bill to tighten restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, leading to a swift and strong uproar in response.
His opponents have labeled the comments “unworthy” of a president.
“Even if one doesn’t share their choice, they have broken none of our country’s laws,” Marine Le Pen, Macron’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, told reporters late Tuesday. “He is continuing his policy of division, of pitting the French against one another.”
She later tweeted “A president shouldn’t say that…Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melanchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” according to the BBC.
But Macron’s allies have defended the comments, with Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, arguing on Twitter that unvaccinated individuals have “bothered” the French by “forcing the rest of the population to endure restrictions.”
Debate over Macron’s bill continue into Wednesday as opponents still seek to delay its passage. Some of his supporters claimed to have received death threats because they are backing the legislation, The New York Times reported.
Assange ‘suffers stroke in jail’ after court rules he can be extradited to America
WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange has reportedly suffered a stroke in jail.
The 50-year-old is being held at the high security Belmarsh Prison as he battles to avoid being extradited to America following a court ruling.
Assange has reportedly been left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage following a mini-stroke.
It’s reported the stroke happened at the time of a High Court appearance via video link in October.
His fiancee Stella Moris said he is “struggling” with the stress of fighting extradition to a US prison.
Since the mini-stroke, Assange reportedly has had an MRI scan and is taking anti-stroke medication.
Ms Moris told the Mail: “Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on.
“It urgently needs to be resolved. Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian. The never-ending court cases are extremely stressful mentally.”