Information on abortion law in France, with details of who to contact and what to do in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. Also information about contraception in France, with the French names for the types of contraception available.
What are the Abortion Laws in France?
Abortion in France (Interruption volontaire de grossesse - IVG) has been legal since 1975, and a woman may have an abortion on request up to 12-weeks after conception.
Two medical consultations are required before the abortion can take place and there is a one-week period of compulsory "reflection" prior to termination, except in an urgent case where this can be reduced to two days. An abortion can only be performed after the 12th week of pregnancy if the woman’s life is in danger.
Single women do not need to provide the agreement of the partner. A non-resident visitor to France may legally have a pregnancy terminated while in France.
Note: A doctor has the right to refuse to perform an abortion but should direct the woman to the family planning organisation or a medical practitioner who can help.
Abortion for Minors in France
Minors (girls under 18 years of age) must meet with a counsellor during the week prior to the procedure and in the days immediately after. It is optional for adults.
Minors do not need parental consent, however they must be accompanied by an adult (person over 18 years of age) throughout the procedure.
Where to get an abortion in France
The first step if you need to organise an abortion in France is to visit the doctor of your choice (either a GP or a gynaecologist), a midwife (sage femme) or a local Family planning clinic, called Centre de planning familial in French. After this initial consultation, certain laboratory tests may be required. A second consultation is required before the abortion can take place.
The abortion pill is available in France, and can be taken up to 49 days (7 weeks) after the first day of the last menstruation. This can be extended to nine weeks if the pill is taken at a clinic or hospital.
The method used to carry out an abortion on France will depend on the length of the pregnancy and on your personal choice (if within the 49-day limit for the abortion pill).
Recommended documents to take:
At the initial medical consultation, you should take along the following documents:
- Card proving blood type (carte de groupe sanguin)
- Medical records (dossier médical)
- Prescriptions (ordonnances) of any ongoing treatment
- Health insurance card (Carte Vitale)
Costs of an abortion in France
If you are registered with the French social security system, 100 percent of the tarif de base is currently covered by the system. Minors without parental consent, and women that benefit from CMU complémentaires (CMU-C), or Aide médicale de l'État (AME) are exempt from advancing any of the costs of the procedure. If you don’t fall into any of the above categories, you may have to advance some of the costs, depending on where the abortion is taking place, which are reimbursed at a later date.
If you have no health insurance you will have to pay the full amount of the procedure, which will depend on the method and where the abortion is carried out. The following approximate costs will apply:
Medical abortion: €282,91 in a hospital or clinic; Between 187,92 € and €193,16 at a doctor’s practice, midwife’s office, or family planning centre
Surgical abortion: From €463,25 to €664,05 - the amounts depend on whether it is a private or public institution, and on whether there is a local or general anaesthetic.
For those concerned with confidentiality - especially if they are registered with social security through a spouse or parent - clinics and hospitals have a coding system that does not identify the procedure with regards to social security billing or reimbursement.
Emergency Contraception/The "Morning-After Pill"
In the event of contraceptive failure, an emergency contraceptive pill (la contraception d'urgence), called NorLevo (Levonorgestrel), is available. It prevents the implantation of a fertilised egg and should be taken as soon after having unprotected sex as possible and within three days at the latest. EllaOne is effective up to five days after intercourse.
This emergency contraception is available at pharmacies and from school nurses: without a prescription (not reimbursed by social security) as well as with a prescription (reimbursed by social security). It is free for minors, without any proof of age.
Family Planning Clinics in France
The family-planning organisation, the French Movement for Family Planning (Mouvement Français Pour le Planning Familial - MFPF) is responsible for providing information on contraception, abortion (avortement), sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS (SIDA). The Planning Familial website (in French) is comprehensive and provides information relevant to all regions of France.
At family planning centres all consultations, examinations, tests and contraceptives are free of charge, regardless of age.
Contraception in France
Contraception is readily available in France and can be obtained on prescription from a doctor, midwife or Family Planning Centre. A prescription is required for all forms of contraception except condoms and spermicides.
The following forms of contraception are available in France:
- Pilule – Pill
- Implants – Contraceptive Implant
- Progestatifs injectables
- Dispositif intra-utérin (stérilet) - Intrauterine Device (IUD)
- Patch – Contraceptive patch
- Implant – Contraceptive implant
- Anneau vaginal – Vaginal ring
- Diaphragme – Diaphragm
- Cape cervicale – Cervical cap
- Préservatif – condoms (male and female condoms are available)
- Spermicides - Spermicides
- Progestatifs injectables – Contraceptive injections
Doctors generally prescribe contraception to cover you for the next 6 or 12 months, with a renewable prescription (ordonnance). If you run short and don’t have time to visit the doctor, many pharmacies will help you out with a refill for the next month or so.
If you’ve just arrived in France and haven’t had time to go the doctor yet for a prescription, many pharmacies will agree to forward you a month’s supply of the pill, just take the box in so that they can determine the exact brand and dose you need.
Only a handful of contraceptive bills are reimbursed by social security, and generally not the recent low dosage pills; expect to pay between 10 and 15 euros a month for contraceptive pills. Note that some pharmacies may have different prices for non-reimbursable pills, so it is worth shopping around. If you buy in packs of 3 rather than just a month’s supply, this will also work out cheaper.
Diaphragms, implants and IUDs are reimbursed at 65%. All other forms of contraceptive are paid for entirely by the patient.
Note that contraception given by a Centre de Planning familial for minors aged 15 to 17 is free.
Contraception for Minors (aged at least 15)
Parental consent is not required for minors aged 15 and over.