Ideological Maneuvering to Promote rather than Prevent Abortion in France

Once again, abortion advocates in France are attempting to implement amendments which would completely obviate existing abortion laws, without even considering how women could avoid having recourse to abortion.

In France, on September 16, the National Assembly’s delegation for women’s rights delivered a rather one-sided report on abortion. The report specifies no less than 25 recommendations intended to provide easier access to abortion, the most emblematic of which include:

  • extending the legal deadlines for abortion, from 12 to 14 weeks pregnancy,
  • adding the unverifiable criterion of “psychosocial distress” to allow the so-called medical abortions to be performed upon demand,
  • extending the deadline for having a drug-induced abortion at home from 5 to 7 weeks pregnancy, and
  • abolishing the explicit freedom of conscience clause for healthcare professionals.

Although France has a high rate of abortions (with 224,300 cases in 2018) no proposals for preventing abortion have been submitted. It is not exaggerated to denounce this report as one-sided. It is neither based on sources of reliable research, nor on verified data, especially concerning the numbers and the causes of late-term abortions performed abroad.

Just prior to this report, on August 26 a draft law “enhancing abortion rights” was tabled by deputy Albane Gaillot (from President Macron’s centrist and liberal party “LREM”: La République en Marche) and co-signed by some 40 MP’s from various left-wing parties. There are two articles:

  • prolonging abortion deadlines from 12 to 14 weeks pregnancy, and
  • abolishing the explicit freedom of conscience clause for health professionals.

It is scheduled to be discussed on October 8 at a parliamentary niche in “La France Insoumise” (left-wing, eco-socialist party). The proposed bill is not likely to be approved; nevertheless, it helps gain ideological ground in favor of unlimited abortion.

Ambushed during the COVID crisis

This latest controversy started at the beginning of the health crisis in March when the French Senate was discussing national emergency health measures. An amendment that tried to extend the statutory deadline for performing abortions from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, was finally rejected. At issue was the decrease in the number of abortions at the beginning of the crisis. These numbers were interpreted as a sign that it would be difficult to respect statutory limits for abortion during the health crisis. Bowing under pressure, the Health Minister, Olivier Véran, promised that depending on the actual requests, he would consider qualifying “psychosocial distress”, as an eligible reason to allow abortions up to 9 months of pregnancy on full-term infants, if the abortion had been delayed by the health crisis.

On April 14, 2020 a new decree became effective, which extended deadlines for having drug-induced abortions at home from 5 to 7 weeks of pregnancy during the Covid-19 health crisis. Alliance VITA then filed a suspensive proceeding to denounce the French Health Minister for abuse of power and for implementing measures which involve serious risks for women, both physically and psychologically.

Again, two amendments discussed in the Senate were rejected on the night of May 28, when the bill on various provisions related to the health crisis was examined.

Finally, an amendment specifying “psychosocial distress” as a criterion for abortion, was surprisingly adopted in the middle of the night of August 1, without prior evaluation nor discussion, with less than 20% of the MP’s present. This extremely controversial measure must be reevaluated during the second reading at the Senate. While pregnant women experiencing distress undisputedly deserve to have society’s full and undivided attention, abortion should not be presented as a foregone conclusion for any unplanned or complicated pregnancy.

On such a sensitive topic, 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. Abortion is not an issue to be treated with expedient measures.

Furthermore, Alliance VITA recalls that there is no double conscience clause for doctors: this specific conscience clause is not only for doctors, but also for all healthcare professionals who are involved in carrying out an abortion (click here to refer to our file on this subject).

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