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HEALTH

French parents fight for right to umbilical cord

Two parents in France are not happy that they were not allowed to keep the umbilical cord after the birth of their baby and want a change in the law that give the mother the sole rights to the tissue.

French parents fight for right to umbilical cord
Photo: AFP

Two parents in France have launched legal proceedings to bring about a change in the law that would grant them the right over their baby’s umbilical cord, which is currently considered as “operational waste”.

The parents are demanding a change in the legal status of an “umbilical cord” which they argue contains valuable blood stem cells and therefore should be the property of the mother

Currently in France the cords, which attach the baby to the mother, are taken away after birth for blood testing.

It is currently illegal for a mother to keep the cordon, which links the placenta to the foetus and provides oxygen and vital nutrients.

The mother, a nurse, who has not been named, signed a consent form before giving birth, but she argues they were not properly informed.

Two years after the birth she has decided to take action.

The parents who are pushing for the law change say the fact the hospital takes away the cordon represents a “serious violation of the individual’s freedoms and the right to a private life”.

A court must now decide whether the cord belongs to the mother, the child, the family or the hospital. Currently is has no legal status.

The lawyer who is in charge of their case said: “The cordon could be kept in a blood bank as happens abroad in countries like Switzerland and it could be used in the future.”

 

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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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