On April 19, 2021, the Meaux Correctional Court convicted a 21-year-old Frenchman of violence and death threats against his girlfriend for attempting to force her to have an abortion; he received a sentence of 15 months, with 8 months of unconditional imprisonment.
During the night of April 14th, the man startled the young woman at her home and took her under duress to Tremblay Hospital in Seine Saint-Denis to force her to abort. The young woman who was eight weeks pregnant, unsuccessfully tried to have the reception desk personnel intervene. She was finally able to call the police using a nurse’s cell phone.
During the court hearing, the man admitted that he did not want a child, due to the fact that his parents were separated, and that his girlfriend had left him for another. The young woman provided the court with evidence of on-going harassment, violence and threats for several days.
The Chairman of the tribunal declared that “abortion is a woman’s right, and only the right of a woman,”. This very ideological viewpoint is far removed from the complex reality. For example, men often exert pressure on women, not only through physical violence, as in this case, but also insidiously by pressuring them psychologically, by threatening to leave or by rejecting the woman if she announces that she is pregnant. Alliance VITA’s listening service hears cases like that on a daily basis.
Regarding the prevalence of violence against pregnant women, the official figures state that “violence is observed in 3 to 8% of all pregnancies”, and that “the rate of violence is still 3 to 4 times higher in the event of an unwanted pregnancy”. When she was Minister for Women’s Rights in 2014, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem recommended that the planned medical consultation at 4-months pregnancy be used to detect violence against women. However, whenever an unplanned pregnancy is announced, women have to be protected from coercion and violence at a much earlier date.