Access to emergency contraception, or the next morning’s pill, will be free for all women regardless of age, in pharmacies and without a prescription, Health Minister François Braun announces in an interview published online. .
Screening for sexually transmitted infections will also be free and without a prescription until the age of 26, and these two measures will be included in the 2023 Social Security Funding Bill, which will be presented to the Council of Ministers on 26 September.
“For female contraception, we are strengthening (…) protection for women by making it easier for them to access emergency contraception (or next day pills) at pharmacies, free of charge and without a prescription, at any age,” announces Mr Brown.
Until now, the morning after pill has only been available free of charge and without a prescription to minors, pharmacies, school nurses, screening or sexual health centers, and adult students.
The cost in adult pharmacies ranged from 3 to 20 euros depending on the drug, with the possibility of partial social security coverage upon presentation of a prescription.
“The government is taking concrete measures to ensure that women no longer refuse emergency contraception for financial reasons, which is the number one cause of refusal among women,” said Isabelle Rome, Minister Delegate for Gender Equality, in a press release.
“At a time when we are seeing the rise of conservatism in Europe and around the world, our government is once again demonstrating that gender equality and the right of women to control their bodies are absolute priorities,” she added.
With regard to STI screening, only HIV screening has been free so far. “From now on, the possibility of screening will be extended to all sexually transmitted infections in order to fight (the) recurrence of infections as early as possible,” explains François Braun in 20 Minutes.
Mr Brown does note “the rise in sexually transmitted infections, especially chlamydia and gonococcus”, and believes that “all areas of prevention must be improved” as “France is lagging behind other countries. Only 2% of our budget is spent on prevention, compared to 4% for our neighbors.”
As for the causes, they are “very difficult” to know, he admits, causing a “lack of prevention, information, or more general relaxation.”