In a win for the reproductive rights of French people, the deadline for having an abortion has been extended from 12 to 14 weeks. This limit now aligns with those of Spain and Austria, and its purpose is to increase safety and freedom for the country’s citizens.
France has seen a nationwide shortage of doctors, alongside the closure of many abortion centers. Although this law doesn’t address the core issues that caused these problems, this extended period allows people more time to obtain safe medical treatment. The legal limit change will also allow midwives to carry out instrumental medical procedures, increasing the number of professionals that provide this important service.
Statistics show that around 3,000 French women go abroad to get an abortion each year due to exceeding the legal time limit. The monetary and emotional cost of traveling can have a huge impact on individuals.
Not everyone who needs an abortion can afford the expensive travel costs of visiting a doctor in another country. Studies have shown that when access to abortion and legal time limits are reduced, the mortality rates of pregnant women actually increase due to more unsafe back-street abortions occurring. It has also been shown that reducing this service is linked to an increased death rate due to the actual pregnancy and childbirth process itself. Therefore, changing this law will save lives across the country, especially those less economically secure and vulnerable.
This bill was put forward by MP Albane Gaillot from the Ecology Democracy Solidarity party. The vote in the National Assembly for the law resulted in 135 votes for, 47 against, with 9 abstaining from the vote.
Oliver Véran, the French Health Minister, sees this new law as a step towards greater “pragmatism and equality“.