Analytical note on the National Assembly’s resolution aimed at reaffirming the fundamental right to abortion in France and Europe

It is urgent to reinforce a woman’s right to information before having recourse to abortion.

On November 26, 2014, the French National Assembly voted the proposition for the resolution aiming to reaffirm the fundamental right to abortion in France and in Europe. Beyond the declarations of principle, this debate is an opportunity to re-consider the reality of abortion in our country and elsewhere. It should take into account the necessity of enforcing prevention and information campaigns for an action-plan regarding abortion.

1 – The current situation

– In 2012, 219,200 abortions were recorded in France. And the first statistics revealed for 2013, announce 10,000 additional ones as compared to the preceding year. With a rate of 14.9 abortions per 1000 women of child-bearing age, France is situated in the high average in Europe. The highest rate is seen in women aged 20 to 24, where there are 27 abortions per 1000 in metropolitan France, and 50 abortions per 1000 in the overseas departments (DOM). According to the National Institute of Demographic Studies, almost 40% of women have had recourse to an abortion at one time during their life.

– Surprisingly, the rate of contraceptive use in France is among the highest in the world. According to the 2010 Health Barometer, 90.2 % of sexually active French women aged from 5 to 49 years old attest to using a method of contraception, including the youth (91.2% of the 15-19 year olds, 92.9 % of the 20-24 year olds).

– This « French contraceptive paradox » is confirmed by the February 2010 report from the General Inspection of Social Affairs (IGAS). It reveals that 72% of women who have recourse to abortion were using birth control when they discovered their pregnancy [1], and concluded that « total mastery of fecundity is a delusion.”

 

Nevertheless, although the public authorities recognize that the growing number of abortions is unsatisfactory, the solutions they put forward only aim at reinforcing contraception, seeking for new abortion prescribing doctors, and to improve the reimbursement of abortion. At least, these have been the means taken for the past few years.    

 

However, for women the abortion is not an insignificant act:

 

  • For the Chief Health Authorities, quoted in the report made by the IGAS on prevention of unplanned pregnancies (2010): “ Abortion often remains a difficult event to experience from the psychological perspective. This dimension needs to be objectively and scientifically clarified.” And yet, since this report, no public research study has been carried out.
  • According to a March 2013 poll carried out by Opinion Way for Nordic Pharma, 85% of women declare having experienced suffering during abortion, with 82% of those declaring moral pain suffering as well, and 67% of them declaring physical pain. This confirms a preceding poll carried out by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) in 2010 concerning women and abortion : 83% of women thought that the abortion leaves psychological traces that are difficult to surmount.
  • The conclusion report of the General Inspection of Social Affairs (IGAS) on the evaluation of the policies to prevent non-desired pregnancies and deal with abortion seems to surrender to inevitability: “There will always be situations of uncertainty or emotional break-up which can bring into question a pregnancy that was possibly desired at a particular moment.”

Women, more than ever, need to be listened to and accompanied, and not have the society clear itself of its responsibility and deny the difficulty of an act that men, themselves, are not submitted to.

 

Real progress would be to develop prevention policies against pressure from society, especially on the masculine side whereby women are pressured towards “voluntary” abortion as we have a proactive policy against violence towards women.

 

2 – The selective abortion scandal should incite us to abstain from promoting abortion in Europe and throughout the world

The European Parliament examined the scandal of abortions selected according to their sex, by the vote on the resolution “The ‘Genericide’: missing women?” on October 8, 2013 52012/2273 INI)[2]. This ‘genericide’ describes the fact of deliberately killing a person for the unique reason of belonging to a certain sex. In fact, in certain countries – such as China and India, but also certain regions of the Balkans and Caucasus-, abortions of female fetuses are widespread.

 

According to the reasons cited in the preceding text ‘ we estimate that by 1990 already, more than one hundred million women were demographically ‘absent’ from the world population due to ‘genericide’; and according to recent estimates, these figures have increased to almost two hundred million women absent from the world population”. The same text gives the following explanation: “despite recent legislation against practicing sex selections, girls are the object, in a disproportionate manner, of single-minded sex discrimination, which often goes as far as striking fetuses identified as feminine, which are objects of abortions, being abandoned or assassinated, the unique reason being that they are feminine fetuses.”

3 – A solid proposition to improve information given to women

 

Women need access to complete and impartial information. Yet, the quality of information has deteriorated in the past decade.

Is it acceptable that one recommends a “fundamental right to abortion” and while simultaneously denying women the power – and the right – to express that freedom by being fully informed?

 

Nevertheless, the tendency in the legislation is heading in the opposite direction: the July 4, 2001 law eliminated the information leaflet previously given to persons who came to be informed about the possibility of an abortion. This guide presented the different aid and protection afforded to pregnant women. At the same time, no information concerning these rights and aid figure on the Health Ministry’s website in the space dedicated to abortion.

 

Thus it is urgent to reintroduce into this law, a measure guaranteeing balanced information regarding rights, aid, and administrative steps to be taken for pregnant women, whether alone or as a couple, as well as describing their social protection. [3].

This could help resolve a certain number of personal tragedies, offering women alternative solutions to abortion, which should not be viewed as inevitable.    

 

Conclusion

Our country is in need of a broad debate on the policies regarding abortion. But this debate should be profound and serene, non-biased, and take into account women’s current situation. Because we are dealing with women’s dignity and their suffering.

We urgently need to implement real prevention policies of abortion and reinforce women’s right to information before a decision to have recourse to abortion.

 

[1] Etude Cocon cité dans le rapport de l’IGAS sur la pratique de l’IVG et l’évaluation des politiques de prévention des grossesses non désirées -2010.

[2] Texte disponible sur le site  du parlement européen.

[3] Le deuxième paragraphe de l’article L2212-3 du Code de la santé publique pourrait être complété par la disposition suivante : « ainsi que la présentation des droits et des aides existant pour les femmes enceintes ».

Share This