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HEALTH

Drunk sets French record for blood alcohol level

An inebriated French man has stunned doctors and police after recording a death-defying level of alcohol in his blood. Tests revealed it to be a record 1.1 percent - the equivalent of drinking three to four bottles of whisky.

Drunk sets French record for blood alcohol level
File photo: Nathan Jones

A Frenchman's boozy night out in a bar in Avignon, which ended in him robbed and beaten up, saw him set a new record for blood alcohol content.

Local police were no doubt shocked to discover that the man’s head injuries, sustained from the attack, were only a part of his problems. With a blood alcohol level of 1.1 percent, he was lucky to be alive.

"This is the same as drinking three to four bottles of whisky in a few hours," a specialist doctor told French daily Le Parisien.

To put it into context the drink drive limit in France is set at 0.05 percent and most people would start to feel worse for wear at around 0.25 percent.

According to local paper Le Dauphiné Liberé, the man’s drinking binge earned him a place in the French record books, smashing the previous record of 0.97 percent. 

Investigators say the man, an employee of the French oil company Total in the Vaucluse department of south-east France, was accosted by the thugs while drinking at the bar.

An employee at the venue told Le Dauphiné Liberé: “He had two cocktails and then left. He seemed drunk – that was all,” adding that he appeared to have a lot of money in his possession.

The man has since been taken to hospital in La Timone in Marseille and has yet to be questioned by police.

Prosecutor Bernard Marchal told the paper that police were still hunting for the suspects who were seen following the victim out of the bar in a surveillance tape.  

The previous record for blood alcohol content was set in February 2005 when a driver aged 37 was found to have an alcohol level of 0.97 percent when tested by police in Polliat in the Ain department of eastern France.

According to French daily Le Parisien, police were so incredulous that they made the man retake the test.

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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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