This scene begins with a slide that reads: DIALOGUE WITH A CONSUMER PRODUCT. Here Paul speaks to "Miss 19," who is something of an equivalent to a cross between Miss America and the official face of Seventeen Magazine. Done in an interview style, the audience is given the perspective of a 'typical girl.' Or perhaps, better, a typified girl that others aspire to be like, as is indicated with holding the status of "Miss 19."
When asked about birth control, Miss 19 seems embarrassed, though it is clear she is informed about the pill and other preventative measures. In regards to politics, Miss 19 displays a vague awareness of the war in Vietnam and overtly admits that she doesn't understand political party distinctions. This suggests that a woman who isn't necessarily interested in activism or sociopolitical matters still keeps herself up to date on issues regarding women's sexual freedom. It is unclear whether Miss 19 finds these topics important, though she is aware of them in a way that she is not about politics. Showing us this, Godard sheds light on an otherwise cryptic element of female culture: despite the absence of the "average woman," all modern women, regardless of their involvement with social or political affairs, knows enough about reproductive advancements to have a developed opinion on the subject and even take a stance.
In another part of the film, we learn through a female friend named Catherine-Isabelle, that Paul's girlfriend Madeline considers birth control 'shocking' and therefore doesn't use it. Catherine-Isabelle reveals that she herself uses a "thingamijig" that she received from their friend Elizabeth. The unnamed contraceptive had been brought to her from America by an employee of Air France. But Catherine-Isabelle tells us since Madeline doesn't use anything, she is afraid of becoming pregnant from Paul. Paul's response, "The idiot. I'm old enough to know better," is a typical uniformed response I've frequently heard from men. And it is an approach that, more often than not, ends just as the film ends, with an unwanted pregnancy.
Midway through the film, there is an indication that Madeline may be pregnant, though this is not confirmed until the abrupt shift in the final scene. Prior to confirming Madeline's pregnancy, Paul engages in a monologue where he considers the effect and purpose of his interviews:
Gradually I began to realize that such questions often distorted rather than reflected a collective mentality. My own lack of objectivity, even though unconscious, was inevitably matched by insincerity in those I questioned. Unaware of deceiving them, I may have been deceived, too. Why? Probably because such surveys tend to forget their real objective, seeking value judgments instead of observing behavior. I discovered that all these questions I was asking French people expressed an ideology of the past and not of the present. I had to remain vigilant; I had gleaned a few insights as guidelines. A philosopher is a man who pits his awareness against opinion. To be aware is to be open to the world. To be honest is to act as though time doesn't exist. To see life, to really see it, that is what wisdom means.
This monologue is followed by a jump cut to Catherine-Isabelle and Madeline at the police station. A voice off camera asks, "What happened?" Catherine-Isabelle explains that Paul had received money from his mother to buy an apartment for him and Madeline. She mentions a quarrel about where furniture will be arranged and then assumes that, in attempt to take a photo of the place, Paul must have backed up too far, falling to his death out the window. It is insinuated that the police believed the quarrel to have led to Paul jumping because Catherine-Isabelle says without being asked or told, "I won't believe it was suicide. It was a stupid accident." Next, Madeline is addressed by the officer. She confirms Catherine-Isabelle's account. The officer states that her friend Elizabeth told him that Madeline is pregnant, asking "What will you do?" to which Madeline replies, "I don't know… I'm not sure. I don't know... Elizabeth mentioned curtain rods... I'm not sure."
The abrupt change of mood in the final scene ends the film with the quintessential alternative to birth control. The film is over before we find out what Madeline decides, leaving the protagonist to remain charismatic if we allow her to, while effectively touching on the brutal alternative to the modern 'woman as object' sans birth control. Perhaps Godard kills Paul in order to avoid controversy around his inclusion of abortion in the film's discussion of reproductive freedom, allowing the audience to sympathize with Madeline. Though these days almost all women either know someone or are someone who has had a surgical or medical abortion, back then abortion still had to be performed either at home, or clandestine with a willing doctor. Even today, with considerable access to abortions, this choice is traumatic, socially stigmatized, and the most undesirable of all the reproductive options available. Still, many women choose not to use birth control and to engage in casual sex, and most, if not all women who've slept with men have experienced a pregnancy scare, using birth control or not.
Prior to effective methods of birth control, termination was the only option for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. Various herbal abortifacients or fairly violent procedures had been administered on record as early as 1000 BCE. Since the 1960s western society has openly rejected normative values surrounding sex and marriage, perhaps due in part to the accessibility of birth control and later, abortions, but also because unmarried people have been sleeping with each other for centuries and were finally ready to admit it. Yet conservatives still find it necessary to impose regulations on reproductive freedom, and to make efforts to take away funding from public services for reproductive health.
It seems that in the US the alternative to birth control often ends up being abortion. Considering that giving a newborn up for adoption has lost popularity in more recent times, what compromises does a woman make if she births an unwanted child? When abortion isn't performed with an unwanted or unintentional pregnancy, the consequences are unclear. Allowing oneself this choice is essential to equality, and it seems that every woman, at the very least, prefers to plan a pregnancy in accordance with her own personal timeline. Even Miss 19, despite her wanting a child in the future, believes it to be important to live her life independently in her early youth. Plus some women prefer not to have children, and so should they be deprived of sex because of this?
At this point, when even religious people engage in extramarital sex, asking people to abstain from sexual activity is beyond foolish. So what then, if not birth control?