France should adopt abortion rights extension during EU presidency, says lawmaker

In France, the deadline for having an induced termination of pregnancy is 12 weeks, i.e. three months. [Benjamin Clapp/Shutterstock]

The French lawmaker behind a bill to extend abortion rights has urged Emmanuel Macron’s  government to adopt the measure during the French Presidency of the EU next year in an interview with EURACTIV.

In January, the French Senate will examine a bill on extending the legal deadline for abortion.

“Adopting such a progressive measure regarding abortion rights during the French Presidency of the EU would send a strong signal to all women and to the society as a whole,” said Albane Gaillot, the National Assembly lawmaker behind the bill, in an interview with EURACTIV.

In France, the deadline for having an induced termination of pregnancy is 12 weeks. Gaillot’s bill seeks to extend this to 14 weeks.

In Europe, some countries have already extended this deadline: in Spain and Hungary, abortion can be practiced up to 14 weeks, in Sweden, up to 18 weeks, in the Netherlands, it is 22 weeks and the time limit is 24 weeks in the UK.

“There are still fairly significant conservative movements, very much rooted in French culture,” Gaillot explained, adding that she has never received as many “hostile messages and threats” as she has since she first brought the proposal forward.

Every year, several thousand French women travel abroad to get an abortion. “There is inequality between women who have the means and who have access to a doctor close to their home willing to perform an abortion, and the others”, says Gaillot.

 

According to a Kantar poll, 80% of French people support the extension of the abortion deadline.

However, the National College of Obstetrician Gynecologists of France (CNGOF) disapproves of the measure. In a press release, the CNGOF explains that the surgical act, if delayed, “changes in nature” and can cause “permanent damage”.

“It seems to us more appropriate, for the sake of women’s health, to give healthcare facilities the means to manage abortions as emergencies”, thus proposing “that the maximum period of care should be 5 days from the date of a woman’s request to terminate her pregnancy”, added the CNGOF.

The text has been adopted twice in the National Assembly, despite the voices of some conservative deputies, who have shown “strong opposition to the right to abortion”, said Gaillot.

Health Minister Olivier Véran and Equality Minister Elisabeth Moreno said they were personally in favour of extending the deadline for abortion but President Emmanuel Macron does not support it. On November 25, during a visit to Pope Francis, the President told Le Figaro that “additional time (from 12 to 14 weeks) is not something neutral”.

After been consulted by the government, the National Consultative Ethics Committee issued a positive opinion.

Gaillot called on the government to “do everything possible to ensure that the bill is adopted before the end of the five-year term and thus to improve women’s rights”.

EU Parliament condemns Poland's restrictive law on abortion

A year after the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling that de facto banned abortion, the European Parliament called on the government in Warsaw on Thursday (11 November) to lift the ban that puts women’s lives at risk.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

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