The abortion limit in France has been extended from 12 weeks to 14 weeks after a contentious vote in the French National Assembly. Previously, abortion was only allowed in the second or third trimesters if it was necessary for the health of the mother (it is never truly medically necessary) or if the child had an incurable illness.
France originally legalized abortion in 1975, but only through 10 weeks. In 2001, the limit was extended to 12 weeks. The current additional extension from 12 to 14 weeks was reportedly due to the number of women traveling overseas to undergo abortions, and it passed by a 135-47 vote. Olivier Véran, the nation’s health minister, reportedly said the extension needed to take place to “end the distress of the thousands of women who have to go abroad.”
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Yet there were some, including President Emmanuel Macron, who were not supportive of the extension.
Macron previously gave an interview to Elle Magazine, stating that it is more traumatizing for women to undergo abortions later in pregnancy, and that “extended time limits are not neutral in terms of a woman’s trauma.” Despite this sentiment, Macron still called for abortion to be added to the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2020, a move condemned by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE).
“Attempting to change this by introducing a supposed right to abortion in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union not only goes against fundamental European beliefs and values, but would be an unjust law, devoid of an ethical foundation and destined to be a cause of perpetual conflict among the citizens of the EU,” the bishops said.
In addition to allowing abortions to take place later in pregnancy, the law change now allows midwives to commit surgical abortions. Previously, they were only allowed to dispense the abortion pill. An amendment that allows physicians to refuse to commit abortions based on moral grounds was upheld, though pro-abortion politicians tried to scrap it, and vowed to continue to fight for its removal.
According to the National Catholic Register, the number of abortions committed in France reached an all-time high of 232,244 in 2019. They decreased in 2020, possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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