The new law also allows midwives to perform instrumental abortions. “It is a sad decision, adopted despite the warnings of doctors and gynaecologists”, say evangelicals.
The French National Assembly approved this Wednesday a new law extending the deadline for abortions from 12 weeks to 14 weeks, by 135 votes in favour, 47 against and 9 abstentions.
The law was first proposed by Albane Gaillot, an opposition Green party lawmaker who had broken off from Macron’s La République En Marche party (the Republic on the Move, LREM). It is the culmination of a long parliamentary process that began in October 2020.
Although French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his opposition to extending the abortion time limit in an interview with Elle magazine last summer, stating that “extended time limits are not neutral in terms of a woman’s trauma”, many members of Macron’s party backed the law. “I respect the freedom of parliamentarians” said the President.
The LREM head of parliament, Christophe Castaner, was the one who urged its approval, while the health minister Olivier Véran told parliament the extension is a “victory for society, a very important day for parliament and for the fight for the emancipation of women” .
"The atypical course of this bill is a lesson to be learned about the functioning of our institutions. It shows that we must ignore political labels. When an idea is good, it is neither right-wing nor left-wing”, Gaillot told news agency AFP.
Campaigners said the aim of this law was to prevent women from having abortions outside France, because over 2,000 women go abroad each year to have an abortion because they have exceeded the legal deadline.
In addition to extending the abortion limit, the new law also allows midwives to perform instrumental abortions, abolishes the two-day reflection period and creates a directory listing of health professionals performing abortions.
However, the clause originally included in the draft law, which would have restricted the right to conscientious objection in cases of abortion, was dropped as it advanced in parliament.
France joins Spain and Hungary as countries where women can have an abortion in their fourteenth week. Sweden allows 18 weeks, the Netherlands 22 and the UK 24.
Right after the approval of the law, the French Protestant Evangelical Committee for Human Dignity (CPDH) described it as a “sad decision, taken in a rush schedule since the National Assembly stops its work on 28 February”.
“The Parliament adopted the extension of the abortion deadline despite the warnings of doctors and gynaecologists “, pointed out the CPDH.
They stressed that “conscientious objection by doctors remains in place, but this is little consolation for the trauma suffered by women and the sacrifices made by children. With more and more doctors no longer wishing to participate in these procedures, let us pray that a real policy of abortion prevention will be developed”.
In an interview with Evangelical Focus in 2020, when the proposal began, Franck Meyer, President of the CPDH, warned that it “will be presenting abortion as the answer to any problem a woman could face during her pregnancy. Children who are in good health would be at risk of being eliminated to solve psychosocial problems”.
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