The French parliament's lower house voted Friday to fully reimburse all abortions and to provide free contraception for teenagers 15 to 18. The bill is set go to the Senate, and sources say it is likely to pass.
Currently, abortions in France cost about 450 euros and women who get the procedure only get about 70-80% of that money back, France24 reports.
In the case of minors and the poor, however, France's national medical insurance fully funds abortions, The AP reports.
"It's about time," said Martine Hatchuel, president of ANCIC's French Association, an organization which counsels women on contraception and abortion, France24 reports. Ms. Hatchuel said she'd like to see the age limit of when women can receive free contraception be extended from 18-25, but she was very happy with Friday's turn of events.
Critics of the new legislation are concerned that too few doctors perform abortions, and feel more information needs to be readily available about the ones who do, The AP reports.
Making abortions completely free would cost French taxpayers 31.7 million euros in the first year, France24 reports.
In 2001, the French parliament approved a law which extended the period in which pregnant women can terminate their pregnancies from 10 weeks to 12 weeks.
The new law also allowed girls under 16 to get an abortion without their parents permission. An adult must accompany girls under 16 for the procedure, but girls can choose the adult. It does not have to be a parent.
As of 2007, most countries in Europe also had a 12-week limit for abortions. Most countries make abortion available on request, but countries like Poland, Finland, and Ireland have much stricter conditions. Ireland has no set limit on when a woman can get an abortion, but her health must be at risk. If the woman is suicidal, this counts, and she will be permitted to have an abortion.
Poland, one of the world's most pro-life countries, has a 24 week limit, but abortions are only allowed in cases of rape, incest, physical or mental illness, or if the fetus is impaired or in danger. Finland's abortion laws are the same.
Last month, Warsaw was host to a conference on the "Intellectual Foundations and the Legal Means for the Protection of Human Life in the Prenatal Phase." There were many presentations based solely on Poland's legislation on abortion, but abortion laws in Germany, Hungary, Austria, and the United States were discussed, LifeNews reports.
Abortions in Malta are illegal. In 2011, however, 63 abortions were performed on Maltese women last year. UK's Gift of Life organization offers abortions to Maltese women and women of other countries where abortion is banned. The organization also helps women deal with the aftermath of the procedure, Times of Malta reports.
The GOL said that many women would rather keep their babies, but are scared and discouraged by a lack of support from family members. The reactions of family and friends play a huge role on a woman's decision to abort or keep her baby. GOL can also counsel women who are struggling with making such a difficult decision.
Organizations like GOL, ANCIC, and others offer much more than abortion such as educating women on contraception and safe sex, and on all their options for if they do become pregnant.
France's new law was designed with those same ideals in mind.