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France to offer free birth control to all women up to 25
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France to offer free birth control to all women up to 25

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FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2016, file photo, a one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills is displayed in Sacramento, Calif.

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 all women and girls.

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. He didn't address contraception methods for men.

Contraceptive methods are free in Britain. Spain offers free birth control pills and subsidizes other forms of contraception. Several other European countries offer free or subsidized contraception.

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