234,300 is the number of abortions performed in France in 2022. This is an increase of 4.9% relative to 2021. The proportion has also reached its highest level since 1990 i.e. 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 49. The publication of these clearly rising figures underlines the urgent need for a prevention policy.
In its report, the DREES (Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics) also records a clear increase in the ratio of abortions due to the fall in the number of births combined with an increase in the number of abortions. Whilst mentioning the change in contraceptive practices and an increase in the sales of emergency contraceptive products, the DREES recommends “specific studies on contraception”.
But beyond any studies which could be conducted on contraceptive practices, these figures show the need to face up to the reality of abortion.
Firstly, the high number of abortions demonstrates that its accessibility is not restricted and invalidates any claims in favour of its inclusion in the French constitution. Also the small number of so-called late abortions (less than one fifth of the surplus observed, and a total estimated by DREES at less than 1.5% of abortions), reveals the unnecessary nature of any extension to the abortion window whereas its promoters claimed that thousands of women were obliged to go abroad.
Furthermore, the increase in the percentage of medication abortions (78%, of which half are conducted outside health establishments) is the result of measures aimed at facilitating access to abortion for women whilst deleting those measures which supported women, in particular the information on the benefits and rights of pregnant women provided during abortion consultations.
The deletion of the cooling off period, the retention of the possibility of remote consultations for medicinal abortions etc. are all factors which contribute to trivialise abortion whereas according to the IFOP (French Opinion and Marketing Institute) barometer for 2020, 92% of French people still consider that an abortion leaves psychological scars which are difficult to live with for women.
Facing up to reality would also include providing particular support for young women students: the 20-29 age group concentrates the highest abortion levels (26.9 ‰ among the 20-24 year-olds and 28.6 ‰ among the 25-29 year-olds).
Finally, in a context of increasing cost of living and erosion of the family policy, abortion appears as inevitable to those experiencing economic and financial difficulties. It is a failure and an injustice. Thanks to the DREES we know that it is the women with the lowest income who mostly resort to abortion. How can one be satisfied that abortion should be a marker of social inequality?
These situations should mobilise us. The taboo surrounding the subject hides the serious ill-treatment suffered by numerous women whereas it is an irreversible act which jeopardises lives.
There is an urgent need to face up to the reality of abortion: This involves an evaluation of the causes and consequences of abortion and the establishment of a genuine prevention policy.