Starting next year, birth control in France will become free for young adult women up to age 25, the French health minister has announced. The coverage is currently offered only to minors.

The expansion of the program will come at a cost of 21 million euro ($24.8mn) a year, Olivier Veran said on Thursday as the minister was announcing the policy change.

Speaking to France 2 television, he said the extra spending was necessary due to a decline in use of birth control among young women once they reach an age where it is no longer paid-for by the state.

“It is unbearable that women cannot protect themselves, cannot have access to contraception that they would otherwise choose, because it is too expensive,” he said. He added that the threshold age of 25 was picked because, in France, women have usually become financially independent by that age.

France introduced free contraception for minors aged 15 to 18 in 2013. The program was deemed a success, contributing to a decline in the rate of terminations of teen pregnancies, amid an overall increase in abortion rates in France. Girls younger than 15 were included in the program from 2020.

Under the French healthcare system, 65% of most contraception costs for all adult women is refunded by the state. 

The announcement came as President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to launch his reelection campaign. The next presidential election in France will be held next year.

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