A report entitled “Let’s talk to our teens about sex? Preventing unplanned pregnancies in young girls.” (Et si on parlait de sexe à nos ados ? Pour éviter les grossesses non prévues chez les jeunes filles) was presented to the French Secretary of State for Young People on the 16th of February, this week.
The report, conducted by one of France’s foremost gynaecologists Israël Nisand, recommends that the government and pharmaceutical companies work together to provide free and anonymous contraception for young girls in France. The proposal advocates the anonymity of access to contraception because, at present, contraception for minors is only available through the health insurance of parents and guardians. The professionals who have produced the report hope that access to free and anonymous contraception would reduce the number of abortions undertaken by young girls.
This position on birth control, although supported by politicians such as the current Secretary of State for Young People, Jeanette Bougrab, has met opposition from others, most notably Nora Berra the Secretary of State for Health. Ms. Berra, in 2011, stated her preference for free and anonymous access to contraception to remain available only in family planning centres. Furthermore, the plans that were blocked in 2011 were mainly aimed at women between the ages of 20 and 30, not at teenage girls.
Currently there are some regional systems in place that allow teenagers in France access to one free medical consultation and free contraception without the involvement of their parents. It is noted by infirmiers.com that the regional system of “Pass Contraception” is mainly supported by the left politically.
In 2011 Ms. Berra, part of the right-wing UMP (Also the party of current French President Nicholas Sarkozy), commented, “I want it remembered that the pill is a drug (…) I don’t want it to be suggested that this is a small pill that can be taken easily without any risks.” (Je veux rappeler que la pilule est un médicament (…) je ne veux pas laisser penser que c’est une petite pilule sans risque qu’on peut prendre facilement). In the same article she also urges people not to under-estimate the “potential toxicity” (toxicité potentielle) of the contraceptive pill, making reference to the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in some women who take the pill.
For those with a feminist perspective at egalite-infos.fr, however, it is hoped that “this new report does not go unheard, and that the future government is able to broaden its horizons beyond reading damning findings.” (Espérons que ce nouveau rapport ne reste pas lettre morte. Et que le futur gouvernement se donne les moyens de ne pas se cantonner à la lecture d’accablants constats.)