Towards an extension of the period of access to abortion

Forty-five years after the adoption of the Veil law, the subject remains sensitive. The deputies lean, this Thursday morning, on the extension of the period of access to abortion, from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, a recurring request from feminist associations and certain practitioners. A bill brought by the deputy of Val-de-Marne Albane Gaillot, former left wing walker, joined the Écologie Démocratie Solidarité group.

Why extend this period? The discovery of pregnancy, especially in teenagers, is sometimes late, explains the member. In addition, there is a lack of practitioners. The offer of care is unevenly distributed over the territory and some doctors oppose an ethical resistance to taking charge of abortions .

Result: time passes and we estimate between 3,000 and 5,000 the number of women who cross borders each year to have abortions abroad because they missed the deadline. A recent parliamentary report reported on the difficulties in accessing abortion today.

Social disparities

Those who go abroad because they find themselves out of time must have the means financial and organizational to do so , further points out Albane Gaillot, while a recent study by the DREES (studies and statistics of the Ministry of Health) highlighted a correlation between standard of living and abortion, the least advantaged women resorting to it more. It creates social disparities . With our neighbors, the deadlines are much longer: 22 weeks in the Netherlands, 24 weeks in Great Britain, 14 weeks in Spain ”.

The majority deputies are rather in favor of the text, but the government, visibly uncomfortable, has expressed reservations, not so much on the substance but on the method. We need more debates , of concertation . The Ministry of Health has requested the opinion of National Consultative Ethics Committee, which should decide before the examination of the text in the Senate.

Ethical debate?

We have already had the ethical debate in 1974 and 1975, retorts Albane Gaillot. This text answers just a concrete problem, practice of women today. . But the college of gynecologists (CNGOF) is opposed to the measure. He considers the “gesture” more difficult to perform at 14 weeks. The fetus is ossified, it must be taken out in pieces. Nobody likes to do that, says Israel Nisand, its president. Let’s start by improving the care pathway, by giving hospitals the means to welcome women on time. In some cities, they have to wait 4 weeks before getting an appointment. Instead of improving the current care, we want to lengthen the deadlines, it is to put a plaster on a wooden leg .

For obstetrician gynecologist Philippe Faucher, on the contrary, lengthening the deadlines would constitute a not important for precarious women, young people who do not know who to talk to, victims of violence . “This extension is not very expensive because quite a few women are concerned,” he said to the AFP. But giving a little more time can relieve a lot ”. For him the battle is over ideological than medical .

Conscience clause

Two other subjects appear in Albane Gaillot’s bill: the removal of the conscience clause specific to abortion. Today, doctors have a general conscience clause that allows them to oppose acts they deem contrary to their convictions. But, in 1975, a concession was made for the adoption of the law on abortion and a second conscience clause, specific to abortion, was added. She makes abortion a separate act and stigmatizes women , deplores Albane Gaillot. However, without it, doctors will always be able to oppose performing abortions with the general conscience clause.

Finally, the deputies will also vote on the possibility, given to midwives to perform surgical abortions for up to 10 weeks. Today, they can only perform medical abortions.

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