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HEALTH

Man lay dead in hospital toilet for 36 hours

A family has been left outraged after a father of two was found dead in a French hospital toilet 36 hours after he suffered a fatal stroke.

Man lay dead in hospital toilet for 36 hours
File photo: Mark Wagner

According to reports the man, named as Jean Marcel Labbé, 56, visited the Villeneuve-Saint-Georges Hospital, in the Val de Marne region to the south of Paris, just before 10am on January 4th to undergo a chest x-ray.

When he walked into the hospital he went straight to the disabled toilet where he is believed to have suffered a ruptured aneurysm, causing his sudden death.

His body was not found until 10pm the following day.

His sister Marie Labbé described the circumstances around her brother’s death as “sordid”, terrible” and “unbearable”.

“We will never know if he could have been saved,” she told French daily Le Parisien. “But what disgusts me is that no one seems to have noticed that the door of the toilet was locked for all that time.”

When he did not return home the family became increasingly worried about his whereabouts. When a family member phoned the hospital just after midday they were told Labbé did not have an appointment that day.

“I want answers from everyone – the cleaning staff, who did not do their job, the security officers and the directors of the hospital. It is not normal that this kind of incident can happen,” Marie Labbé told Europe1 radio.

“This should never happen again,” she said.

The director of the hospital Didier Hoeltgen has denied there were any medical errors surrounding Labbé’s death.

“There was confusion. People thought the toilet was occupied or out of order. Around 3,000 people come to the hospital each day. We cannot keep a check on all the toilets,” Hoeltgen told Le Parisien.

The director has, however, ordered an internal investigation to try to determine how Labbé remained undiscovered for so long.

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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