Abortions in France Reach Record High

In 2019, there were more abortions performed in France than ever before (232,000 last year compared to 224,300 in 2018) according to the annual statistics published by the “DREES” (Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics).

The annual statistics published on September 24, 2020 show that the abortion rate in France has currently reached 16.1 abortions per thousand women of childbearing age; once again more than double the rate in Germany with 7 per thousand. This upward trend in abortion rates has continued since 1995.

Depending on the region there are very substantial disparities ranging from one to three times the national average. In mainland France, the highest rate was recorded at 22.7 per thousand in the region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. In the overseas departments and territories of Guadeloupe and Guyana, abortion rates are even higher, exceeding 39 per thousand.

To be noted, over the last years: the number of births has continued to fall whereas the number of abortions has continued to rise.

While the 20-29 age group continues to account for the highest abortion rates, the statistics show that women in their thirties have increasingly turned to abortion over the past 10 years. On the contrary, for women under age 20, abortion rates have decreased.  For girls aged 15-17, the abortion rate dropped from 10.5 per thousand in 2010 to a rate of 5.7 in 2019, and for 18-19-year-olds, the rate also decreased from 22.2 to 16.7 abortions per thousand.

Accounting for 70% of all abortions in 2019, the number of so-called medical abortions or drug-induced abortions continues to grow. Available by medical prescription, these abortive pills are taken at home before 5 weeks of pregnancy, and in a hospital up until the legal deadline of 7 weeks.

The statistics have demonstrated that 12,000 surgical abortions (vs. drug-induced) were performed at 10-12 weeks of pregnancy.

According to the authors of the report: “The number of surgical abortions performed during the last two weeks prior to the statutory deadline may be partly caused by the difficulty to obtain an abortion, either due to an insufficient number of abortion providers, or lack of knowledge of the health care system by the women concerned.”

These hypothetical comments cannot be validated without a more detailed study, notably including women’s painful reluctancy to end their pregnancy. This situation is even more alarming because for the first time, the statistics included the women’s income. The statistics show that the women with a lower income resort to abortion more frequently than the others.

The report attests that “The statistical differences could not be explained by the women’s age or marital status, since for a given age and marital status, women with the lowest standard of living are 40% more likely to have abortions when compared with women with an average standard of living.”

In a nutshell, abortion is a distinctive marker of social inequality that should challenge public authorities. Year after year, these statistics are continually published, while neglecting to analyze the causes and consequences of abortion. In 2016, an IFOP poll reported that 89% of French citizens felt that following an abortion, women suffered negative psychological and emotional side effects. The poll also found that 72% of those surveyed, thought that society should provide women with more help, in order to avoid having recourse to abortion.

Just following the release of this report, a new bill is scheduled to be examined during the October 8th session of Parliament, under the “Ecologie Démocratie Solidarité” party’s agenda. Although unlikely to be adopted, it nonetheless helps abortion activists gain ground in advancing their cause of unlimited abortion.

Alliance VITA calls for a genuine abortion prevention policy and for an epidemiological study to be conducted to analyze the causes, conditions and consequences of abortion over the past 20 years.

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