French MEPs have listed on the agenda a discussion on abortion. A bill aiming at extending the abortion period is expected to be examined on Thursday October 8, 2020. The text is supported by the Ecologie démocratie solidarité group created this past spring by dissidents from the majority.
Carried out by MEP (former LRM, Val-de-Marne) Albane Gaillot, this bill aims at expanding the abortion right in France, adding new amendments. The main amendments are about extending of the legal period allowing women to get an abortion, retiring the doctors’ conscience clause specific to termination, the opening to midwives the possibility to perform instrumental abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy as well as the creation of an address book of health professionals performing terminations supervised by local health agencies.
Today, theoretically, women can get an abortion up to twelve weeks of pregnancy (that is to say fourteen weeks of amenorrhea). Yet, as many studies showed, the access to care is very unequal to women, depending on where they live.
Moreover, refusals of late care (beyond ten weeks) have been highlighted by several reports over the years, leading women’s rights activists to speak in favor of longer periods.
For MEPs supporting this bill, it is urgent to “update” abortion conditions in France. “Difficulties have intensified over the health crisis, as told by associations” Albane Gaillot says. “We tackled the writing of the text before summer in a deliberately transpartisan approach”.
National Assembly LRM group head Christophe Castaner stated he will vote for the bill. “I know many MEPs from the majority will vote for the text. I will too” he said. He added it was necessary “to face the facts” as many women in France struggle to get an abortion.
The current government seemed wary several times with the bill. Questioned a few months before by MEPs, Olivier Véran refused to address this “too important society matter” amid the coronavirus crisis. As for Jean Castex, he prefers extending debate periods in order not to rush the most conservative members of the society whose anger he fears.
Yet, it is very likely the government will not go against the parliamentary representatives. We are expecting it not give voting guidelines to the MEPs on the matter.
In the European Union, 26 countries have legalized abortion, Ireland being the latest: the bill passed in 2018 following a referendum. Abortion periods lie between 10 and 24 weeks. Yet, some countries do not grant this right to women under some conditions, for instance in case of a rape, malformation of the fetus or risks for the mother’s health. The right to abortion is not granted to all women over time.