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France lawmakers to look at legalising abortion up to 14 weeks

The French parliament is on Thursday debating a bill that would extend the legal deadline for abortion from 12 to 14 weeks.  Coming 45 years after Simone Veil’s landmark law legalised abortion, the move would make France “one of the world’s most progressive countries”, argued MP Albane Gaillot, the bill’s architect.“Some women encounter difficulties in their access to abortion; this has been exacerbated by the health crisis,” Gaillot, a former member of President Emmanuel Macron’s Le République en Marche party (LReM), told FranceInfo.“It is clear that lockdowns make it difficult for women to leave their homes … There are also great disparities between different territories … Whether you live in the Nièvre [central eastern France] or in Villejuif [a suburb of Paris], you don’t have quite the same sort of access.” The text, Gaillot added, aims to “perpetuate, improve and deepen the spirit” of the 1975 law, brought by French champion of women’s rights and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil.Parliament versus governmentWhile the proposal has the support of the vast majority of LReM MPs, it is opposed by the government – which has referred the matter to the National Consultative Ethics Committee.Political commentators say the government, while waiting for the text to reach the Senate, is hoping an unfavourable pronouncement from the committee will allow it to bury the bill. Prime Minister Jean Castex, until recently a member of the conservative Les Republicans party, has said he would have preferred for France to hold an inclusive debate on the sensitive question of abortion. France extends access to abortions during Covid-19 pandemic French abortion providers question ‘conscience clause’ allowing doctors to refuse procedures But an unnamed LReM minister told RFI this made little sense. “It’s silly, we’ve already spent a year listening to everyone … Beware of this demagoguery. They want to pass for the most progressive.”This bill follows a parliamentary information report on access to abortion by the assembly’s Delegation for Women’s Rights, which said abortion was often “tolerated” in France, but not always guaranteed.The report found that every year between 3,000 and 5,000 women in France are forced to go abroad to receive an abortion because they have exceeded the legal deadline.

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