Under current French law, abortion is legal up to 12 weeks, but pro-abortion lawmakers in France are seeking to expand that limit. In late September, rapporteurs Marie-Noëlle Battistel and Cécile Muschotti introduced legislation that would legalize abortion up to 14 weeks, and today, the bill advanced, passing its first reading in the French National Assembly.
As Right to Life UK explains, abortion up to 12 weeks is only legal in France if “the continuation of pregnancy would severely endanger the health of the woman.” However, in July, pro-abortion lawmakers in the country pushed through a measure legalizing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy if there is “psychological distress” — a term so vague that the legislation effectively legalizes elective abortion up to birth.
The expansive amendment was passed in the middle of the night as part of the Bioéthique Bill without prior notice of the vote or an impact study. Right to Life UK notes that “only 101 National Assembly members voted on the controversial Bill out of a total of 577.”
The most recent bill seeking to expand abortion in France also seeks to eliminate conscientious objection to committing or participating in abortion. The Catholic News Agency reports, “The bill targets France’s ‘double conscience clause,’ introduced in 1975, which recognizes both a general right to conscientious objection and a specific right related to abortion. The new law would require doctors and midwives who conscientiously object to give women the names of doctors and midwives who will perform abortions.”
Speaking about the expansion of the abortion limit and the lack of conscience protections, the president of the National College of French Gynecologists and Obstetricians, Professor Israel Nisand, said that at the later gestational age, “The head of the fetus is ossified and must be crushed. The gesture itself is therefore terrible for the person doing it, and for the patient.”
Amid the latest maneuver to expand abortion in France, data released shows a record high in the number of abortions committed in France in 2019. The figures from the French Directorate of Research, published on September 24, show a 30-year high in the number of abortions in 2019. In that year, there were a reported 232,244 abortions. The 2019 number exceeds the 226,812 abortions in 2007, which was the previous record high.
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