Health Laws – Abortion: the government’s campaign

Although measures have already been introduced in the Health bill aiming to facilitate even more abortion, the government has still launched a campaign to further promote abortion.

The Health bill proposal is still being examined and debated in the Senate, before the general vote planned for October 6, 2015. The diverging provisions between MP’s and senators will be submitted to a joint committee in the coming weeks.

Several amendments for abortion which had been voted on by MP’S, without genuine debate or research on their impact, were then dismissed by the Senate Social Affairs Commission last July. The Senators reintroduced them during the public session examining the bill, notably:

  • eliminating the week’s delay for abortion (article 17 bis)
  • giving the ability to health centers to practice surgical abortions (article 16 bis)
  • enabling midwives to practice medication abortion (article 31).

During the debate, the co-reporter for Senate Social Affairs, Alain Milon, had yet pointed out “that it is indispensible that the practice of abortions continues to be performed, throughout each step of the intervention, by a doctor and under his responsibility.” specifying that this extension of competences “is not unanimous among mid-wives”. However, it was decided not to include the practice of medication abortions in the initial training program for mid-wives.

The senators removed article 38, dedicated to the regional health project, the provision which had been inserted by the MP’s concerning access to abortion. This amendment requested the Regional Health Agencies to create action plans for access to abortion, notably by including the abortion activity in the contracts of means and objectives which link the Regional Health Agencies to the health establishments; in other words, to establish objectives in the number of abortions to be performed per hospital or per clinic.

These new provisions were debated while simultaneously the Health Minister, Marisol Touraine launched a national campaign “of information regarding abortion and a woman’s right to decide about her own body”, titled “My body, my choice, my right”. Largely present on social networks and in the media, this campaign announced the creation of a free national information number which would be anonymous for those seeking information about abortion. But there were no announcements regarding the prevention of abortion.

Among the worrisome reactions of such trivialization, we note that of the French Bishop’s Conference: “Abortion is not the answer to the necessity of educating”. Denouncing the slogan’s campaign’s suggesting “an individualistic approach to the drama of abortion” it reaffirms “an urgent need not to consider abortion as an anecdote, but as a serious act which implicates and often profoundly and permanently marks those concerned: the women, but also the men and the families”. They also remind of the “existence of numerous organizations dedicated to information, reception and support for those who face the question of abortion, as well as those who have experienced abortion.”

Alliance VITA has already expressed its opinion several times on this subject (1) explaining that reinforcing the idea that abortion is trivial does nothing to help women who know very well that the life of a human being is at stake. The claim to a “right to abortion” promoted by the public authorities prevent us from looking objectively at the reality of abortion, to speak about what women experience, and the consequences that affect certain women’s lives in a deep and sometimes permanent manner. The slogan “It’s my choice” condemns many to secret tears. Alliance VITA reminds us of the urgency to have a genuine prevention policy. Helping women with unplanned or difficult pregnancies is essential if abortions are not to be inevitable.

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