Eff yeah France: free birth control for teenagers

Slate reports:

NPR reports that France is adopting a new regulation making contraception and contraception counseling free to girls 15 to 18, with an added provision that doctors must offer this care without notifying parents. Unlike here in the U.S., the free contraception is covered by the state and not a girl's insurance, giving her a further layer of privacy protections. The government hopes that by protecting young girls' privacy, it can increase contraception use and reduce the teen pregnancy rate.

So: Straightforward, almost boring health care policy story about a government taking sensible, cost-effective measures to curb a public health problem. But the story isn't really about health care policy—the underlying narrative here is that the French are yet again making American politicians look like a bunch of out of touch prudes. (Americans don't need the French to point this out: Just wander into an American abstinence-only classroom to hear sexually active kids being told that anything short of waiting the 15-plus years between puberty and the average age of first marriage to have sex is a ruinous choice that will end with the fornicator unable to feel love or dead from AIDS.)

Everybody sensible knows that American politics can't hold up its current bad decisions and wrong positions.  Eventually all the people who care about them will die, or America will slip below first-world status and we'll have a schism, or the NRA will shoot everyone.  Or we'll elect some sane people soon.  Don't want to rule that out.

It's nice to know that, while we flounder, the rest of the world continues to move forward.

Potential male contraceptive

Both the BBC and SciShow reported today on the new developments around male contraception -- it seems there's a solid lead towards developing a pill for people with Y chromosomes.  Or, at least, it works in mice.

The testes of mice taking the drug began to shrink as they produced fewer sperm, which were also less mobile. Some were rendered infertile.

When the animals were no longer taking the drug they were able to have babies.

One of the researchers, Dr James Bradner said: "This compound produces a rapid and reversible decrease in sperm count and motility with profound effects on fertility.

"These findings suggest that a reversible, oral male contraceptive may be possible."

The way these things go, human testing is probably a while off, and if that goes alright (fingers crossed) it'll still be like ten years before the pill is available to the public -- by which point, I probably either won't want it, or be ready for a more permanent intervention.

But it'll be good to know that if I have male children, they might have access to contraceptives that they're relatively more likely to keep up with.