Friday, April 16, 2010

Reproductive Rights in France

Accessibility to birth control options are greatly offered for woman living in France. During the year of 1965, woman fought the nation’s ban on birth control. Since then, birth control still remains accessible to every woman in France for free.

Most European countries, including France, have legalized abortion since 1955. The procedure is free once approved by two NHS (National Health System) doctors. The law states that a woman’s pregnancy may be terminated up to 24 weeks under the agreement that: it may put the life of the mother at risk, and poses mental and physical risks to the mother and the fetus [1]. Because this procedure is so readily available and costs next to nothing, this may be the reason why Europe has the highest abortion rates in the world.

To help educate French woman about such services and their legal rights, the UK government teams up with organizations such as “bpas” ( and “brook” ( to create informational websites. A copious amount of information is posted in regards to STD’s, pregnancy, contraceptive options, abortion options, etc. They also list contact information such as telephone numbers, consultation centers, clinics, etc, encouraging females through a supportive system.

In 2006, The Washington Post wrote an article entitled: “As Europe Grows Grayer, France Devises a Baby Boom.” This article was based upon the fertility rate of woman in France and how it is now increasing due to the Active Family Policy that is encouraged by the UK. “The French government wants to encourage bigger families and make it easier for woman to keep their jobs while raising children [2].”

So, this new law now provides maternity leave benefits, tax credits, and other incentives for families who have three children. “During a year-long leave after the birth of the third child, mothers will receive $960 a month from the government, twice the allowance for the second child [2].” The “help” that each family receives is according to their annual income rates- “providing low-income families the most help. Higher-income families also receive substantial benefits so that only a fraction of a working mother's salary goes to child-care costs [2].” Not only do woman receive these benefits but they are also allowed the option to work part time or not at all, until her child is three years old. And, she will also be guaranteed her previous full-time job when she returns to work.

“From next July (2007), the social security payment to mothers with a third child will rise from €512 ($618) a month over three years, to €750 a month for one year (although mothers can opt for the three-year rate). Offering a higher payment over a shorter time period is expected to encourage women to leave the workforce to have another child [3].”

So although every woman in France has the choice NOT to become pregnant, the UK is actually enforcing the productivity of more children to guarantee a full replacement generation. But what took so long for the delayed entry into parenthood? One prediction may be due to the fact that since the 1970’s there was a significant increase in the amount of woman working, and most social policies of the government helped woman to remain in the work force. Other predictions such as delay in fertility, decline in marriage, increased birth control, and greater economic uncertainty may be contributing factors to the reason why reproductive rates were so low. “Now, France has the second-highest fertility rate in Europe: 1.94 children born per woman, exceeded slightly by Ireland's rate of 1.99. The U.S. fertility rate is 2.01 children [2].”


Reflection Questions:
1. How do you feel about the benefits mothers receive while on maternity leave?
2. If you lived in France, would you subside to the Active Family Policy?
3. Can you think of any other reasons for the delayed entry into parenthood?

posted by: Alicia Mamula


  1. Wow! This post was absolutely fascinating!

    I think it is so great that France provides the opportunity to get an abortion if necessary and how Europe takes care of women who have children!

    Thank you so much for adding the links to where you got your information!

    Carolyn Kaufman

  2. I find this post to be very interesting as well. It find it great that France supports abortion, I strongly believe that abortion should not be used as a form of birth control however it is great that there is not so much of a stigma assosciated to it. It is fascinating to see how different global areas view child rearing/options for parents who may not be able to raise their childrend. Also, I find it great how supportive the government is of reproduction and the need for more. However, one question I had was what happens if families see these benefits and incentives as great reason to reproduce and have up to three children is there potential for the government to not be able to provide what they promised if birth rates begin to grow rapidly?

    - Nikkii Giovanniello

  3. I feel that France and other European countries have everything! Free health care, free higher education, and now extra benefits for mothers on maternity leave. I think the benfits are great and gives mothers the extra time to bond with their child and be able to providethir child with everything that is essential to them at such a young age.
    It's great to read that France also teams up with other different organizations to educate women about their reproductive rights and preventative measures, and other things that will help them learn about their rights as women. it's so good that these women and their families are being supported because support is very essential. I believe France is doing a good job at helping the women of thei county because they encourage women to have several children to boost population and support them by giving them allowances and more benefits, but they also encourage women to continue working and the government passes legislation to allow women to return to work when they're children are of age three, which is a a perfect amount of time to allow the mother to bond with the child and at this age it is good to begin to socialize the child. It makes me sad to know that if I have my first child in the U.S, I'll be only allowed several weeks to bond wth my child and be forced to return to work and place my child in daycare or I'll lose my job. I would love to be able to be fully involved in my child's first three years of life before I hand them off to other people to care for them.

    --Charda Davis