5 Reasons Teens Need Free Access to Contraception (Just Ask the French)

Girls between the ages of 15 and 18 in France will be able to get birth control free of charge, and without parental notification, starting in January 2013.

The free consultation and contraception, which can take place at the family doctor’s office, will be covered by the state and not a girl’s insurance, meaning that she will be protected by a further layer of privacy. By doing this, the government hopes to increase contraception use and reduce the teen pregnancy rate, which they believe is due to ignorance, taboo and a lack of access to contraception.

Under current rules, most teenagers can get absolute anonymity with a doctor, but have to pay for the visit in cash without submitting a claim to get the money back.

There are a few French clinics that provide this anonymity already.

From NPR, here’s a description of one of them in a low-income area of Paris:

On a recent day, a counselor talks with a handful of teenage girls in a sitting room. Clinic director Isabelle Louis says the young women who come to the clinic aren’t necessarily poor; she says many hail from well-off families and live on the other side of Paris.

“It’s not very easy for young women to go to see her family doctor and ask for contraception,” Louis says. “A lot of them are afraid the doctor would tell the parents she came.”

What a refreshing common-sense approach to the issue! Even better, the measure sailed through the French legislature without any kind of political battle.

Can you imagine that happening in the U.S.? Remember the fights over contraception in the U.S. election campaign earlier this year, with Mitt Romney declaring that, if elected President, he would get rid of Title X (the nation’s family planning program for low-income Americans), kill off Planned Parenthood, and remove birth control coverage from Obamacare?

In 21 states, all teenagers can get contraceptives without parental permission, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A few other states allow it under certain circumstances.

Whereas in France, there were no speeches about our young people abandoning God, no assertions that contraception is the same thing as abortion, nor any claims that giving girls contraception would lead to sex-based cults.

It should be obvious, but here are five reasons for providing teens free and anonymous access to contraception:

1.  Teens are having sex, regardless of what they are told; indeed, thousands of them start having sex every year without asking their parents. In the United States, some 330,000 end up pregnant because of it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2.  Just as the lack of access to birth control does not stop kids from having sex, neither does the ability to obtain contraception mean that they will start having sex. We should give our young people some credit here!  Studies show access to birth control doesn’t increase sexual activities.

3.  However, easy access to birth control does make sex safer, which is especially important for the kids who come from families where sexuality is a taboo subject, but who are having sex anyway. Really, as a parent, wouldn’t you prefer your child to be safe?

4.  French health officials say the new measure will help protect teenagers who are from low-income families. This, of course, runs counter to the approach advocated by Romney, who would punish such families by taking away access to contraception.

5.  Finally, it’s been proven over and over that the abstinence-only approach, so popular in the U.S., doesn’t work. It makes sense if you think about how it must be for a sexually active teenager to be told that he should wait around 15 years to have sex. (The time between puberty and the average age of first marriage.) Unfortunately, although President Obama did away with a decade of abstinence-only programs (to the tune of $1.5 billion), it looks as if they might be back.

So which do you prefer? The French model or the American model?

Related Care2 Coverage

Abstinence-Only: It’s Baaack

Get Your Politics Out Of My Birth Control

Romney’s War On Contraception



Photo Credit: thinkstock

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Alicia Guevara
Alicia Guevara2 years ago

French model for me please!

Susan Allen
SusanAWAY Allen2 years ago

I cracked up also at that statement Pam W....lol

pam w.
pam w.2 years ago

"Sex should be for pro-creation and not as a pleasure"

+++++++++++ Are you SERIOUS? Does this mean that everyone who doesn't want children must remain abstinent?

Who brainwashed you?

Ashley D.
Ashley D.2 years ago

How can we prove that 'abstinence only' programmes do not work? Surely they must work for some, hopefully your President will bring them back.

Sex should be for pro-creation and not as a pleasure, as a means to an end in itself. Contraceptions are no guarantee against sexually-transmitted diseases. Parents should still be made aware.

pam w.
pam w.2 years ago

I'm always wryly amused at those who announce they don't want their tax dollars spent for this or that....we don't get to choose where "our" tax dollars go!

I don't want my tax dollars spent to subsidize religious education...or to subsidize the unfair tax rates which allow Mitt Romney & his ilk to sink enormous amounts of money into invisible accounts off-shore.

So, there you are, Sarah.

If you don't see that it's cheaper to provide teens with free contraceptives than to support their unwanted children (and all the misery and social problems associated with them,) I can't help you.

Sandra Lewis
Sandra Lewis2 years ago

Your tax dollars are far better spent on paying for the medical expenses of pregnancy, childbirth, and the welfare of babies through age 18. So much more cost effective than putting a few dollars into prevention services for teenage girls in vulnerable situations.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

Contraception is available to teens, it is available to everyone. Condoms are sold over the counter, as they always have. Teens have been getting pregnant forever. What is really meant by available is free. I don't think my tax dollars should go to pay for someone else's contraception.

Tammy Taylor
Tammy Taylor2 years ago

Young pregnancies do more damage than safe sex...

Bill and Katie D.
Katie D.2 years ago

This is just what the USA should adopt too! This solves a lot of problems! NO more great grandma's raising children for the great granddaughter or grand daughter, they could enjoy their life. No more burden or finger pointing of shame and the talk of being this is the new way of life they just have children and don't get married, baby after baby! Let's go back to being families! Do it the right way! There is absolutely no excuse for anybody to have an unwanted baby now days there are all kinds of birth control, think first and be prepared!!!!

Cate S.
Cate S.2 years ago

The Netherlands has a far lower rate of teen pregnancy & abortion than the US, And their average age of first sexual activity is 18 months to 2 years later than in the US. This has been stabled for over 20 years. Yet they have an excellent sex education program & much easier access to contraception. Both the US & Australia could learn lessons from France & especially the Netherlands.