The "contraception pass" invades the French high schools region after region. Launched on 26th April 2011 by the chairman of the Regional Council of Ile-de-France Jean-Paul Huchon (PS), this plan which aims at facilitating the access to the contraception for high-school students has been also authorised in Poitou-Charentes region on 2nd May. The Regional Council of Rhône-Alpes plans to adopt it but extending it to university students and apprentices. The Minister of National Education Luc Chatel, initially opposed to this initiative proposed in November 2009 by Ségolène Royal, now seems to consider it as a key measure for preventing abortions in minors. A controversial position needing some clarifications.
Contraception pass: What is it?
The contraception pass consists of a set of vouchers delivered by the school nurse to high-school students who ask for it and which gives us access, for free and anonymously, to contraception for a period of 3 to 6 months. Medical consultations, analyses, pills, implant, intra-uterine device, patch, etc. are included in the pass, the different professionals involved in this plan being reimbursed by the regional council.
A solution for VTP?
This measure aims at stemming the 13,200 abortions of minors annually, a constantly increasing figure. Yet, various analyses show that there is no automatic relation between access to contraception and decrease of VTP. Nathalie Bajos, Research Director at the Inserm, reminds that the increasing number of abortions is not due to a bad use of contraception but to a "procreative standard" which changed. "Today, for the same rate of unplanned pregnancies, we resort more easily to the VTP", she specifies noting that we passed from 65% of interrupted undesired pregnancies in 1990 to 79% in 2005 for the 14-15 year-old females and from 54% to 67% for the 16-17 year-old over the same period.
The National Confederation of French Catholic Family Associations (CNAFC) makes the same conclusion, underlining that "this situation is that the resort to abortion commences in particular in erroneous conceptions of sexuality which comes from the same logics as that being able to justify the resort to contraception".
Thus the challenge is not to reinforce the access to the contraception but to "change the opinion on sexuality. (…) The more positive the opinion is, which insists on the relation, the sharing, the respect of the other, the less undesired pregnancies there are", concludes Nathalie Bajos. The CNAFC, calls for a "real affective, relational and sexual education of young people", fearing that the contraception pass is a "shield behind which we hide" in order not to take care of the education of love.
Confiscated parental authority
The implementation of this plan aroused a lively concern in parent’s committees. "We do not have to replace the parents", protested the chairman of the Federation of Student Parents in Public Education public (PEEP), Claudine Caux. Whereas the parents would need to be reinforced in their accompaniment mission of their children in the acquisition of the autonomy and the responsibility, the contraception pass excludes them from their role of main educators.