France: Health Bill Facilitates Abortion vs. Prevention

Without any preliminary discussions or suggestions for preventing abortion, a Health Bill was adopted at the first reading in the French National Assembly, facilitating even broader access to abortion.

The amendment stipulates that within 6 months of the law’s enactment, the government must submit a report to the Parliament about the “genuine accessibility to abortion, the difficulties encountered in the various regions of France, including those due to some practitioners who refuse to perform abortions.”

This is clearly another attempt to abolish the conscience clause for health professionals. Against the government’s instruction, the Social Affairs Committee had already tabled amendments to remove this specific conscience clause for performing abortions. Although the previous amendments were rejected, this request for a report is a backhanded way of attacking the conscience clause again and of putting undue pressure on medical professionals. Indeed, as Alliance VITA reminded, France has a high rate of abortion with more than 210,000 abortions performed every year. We maintain that policy makers should be alarmed by the lack of a genuine abortion prevention policy, rather than concentrate on stigmatizing health professionals who act according to their conscience.

Alliance VITA requests that a study be carried out on the situations that lead women to seek an abortion, and on the consequences of this act, to elaborate an adequate abortion prevention policy. An IFOP opinion poll published in 2016 stated that 89% of French citizens think an abortion leaves women with painful psychological marks, and 72% believe that women should be more helped by society to avoid abortion.

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