Drupal.behaviors.print = function(context) {window.print();window.close();}>

France Confirms Abortion Right as Spain Pulls Back

Friday, January 24, 2014

Spain may be committing to a stricter path on abortion but French lawmakers are moving to better secure women's right to the procedure. The new French law does away with language requiring "a situation of distress."

Subhead: 
Spain may be committing to a stricter path on abortion but French lawmakers are moving to better secure women's right to the procedure. The new French law does away with language requiring "a situation of distress."
Bookmark and Share

 

 
 

 

Credit: Fondapol on Flickr, under Creative Commons

Bookmark and Share

(WOMENSENEWS)-- While Spanish women are poised to lose abortion rights, French women are likely to obtain unconditional access to the procedure after an amendment to the current abortion law was passed by the National Assembly earlier this week.

Until now, the French law guaranteed all "pregnant women whose condition puts her in a situation of distress" the right to terminate her pregnancy. The new text states that a "woman has the right to choose whether or not to continue with her pregnancy."

The bill would also punish those who try to prevent a woman from entering places where she can receive information on abortion.

Abortion access in France has been generally unrestricted up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and the reality is that women are rarely asked to prove their distress to undergo the procedure.

Opponents of the new, liberalizing text have denounced it as a

However, Barbara Romagnan, a French deputy, rejects that idea. "It is already painful enough for a woman to go through such a procedure," Romagnan told Women's eNews in a phone interview a few hours before lawmakers approved the text on Jan. 21. "We are not going to ask her to prove her distress on top of that. It is a right that should not be granted only upon a state of distress."

Government spokesperson and Women's Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was quoted by as telling the National Assembly Jan. 21 that "abortion is a right in itself and not something that is allowed subject to conditions."

The 'Veil Law'

France's abortion law--better known as "la loi Veil" or the "Veil Law"--was first passed in 1975. The law was named after a former health minister, Simone Veil.

In addition to this amended abortion law, in October 2013 the socialist-led government approved changes to the social security budget to permit the costs of all abortions to be reimbursed 100 percent by the state.

On Jan. 21, some members of the country's ring-wing UMP party sought to stop abortions from being reimbursed by the country's social security system, but French lawmakers voted against this amendment, reported.

"It is scandalous," said Romagnan when questioned about the possibility of ending public reimbursement of abortion. "That would mean only the women who could afford to pay would have access to the procedure. It is unfair."

France's current abortion amendment was being discussed among a broader range of bills on gender equality, including the extension of paternity leave to six months, the ban of beauty pageants for girls under 13 and higher fines for failing to achieve gender parity in business and politics. All of these measures will be re-examined by French deputies on Jan. 24. They were already approved by the Senate last September.

Spain Rolls Back Law

The French move to cement this reproductive right moves against the tide in neighboring countries where the anti-abortionist movement has been gaining traction.

Under pressure from the Catholic Church, Spain's conservative government announced last month it would roll back a 2010 law allowing women to freely opt for abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Instead, it would only be authorized in the case of rape or if the health of the pregnant woman is at risk. The legislation has yet to be passed by the Parliament.

Demonstrators gathered in downtown Madrid to protest the government's health care cuts and the abortion proposal on Jan. 19, the reported. Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is also facing criticism from the European Parliament and his socialist opponents while opening divisions in his own conservative Popular Party.

This week, French Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine strongly criticized the Spanish government for announcing its intention to severely restrict abortion access. "The proposed Spanish law constitutes an unprecedented regressive step that will take women back to the Stone Age," for the press on Jan. 21.

The majority of French--74 percent --see the right to abortion as "a positive thing," according to a poll conducted in November 2013 by the French polling institute CSA. , Yves-Marie Cann of t