France’s parliament has approved a law which extends the abortion limit from 12 weeks to 14 weeks. The bill was approved by 135 lawmakers in a final vote in the Assemblée nationale on Wednesday, 47 MPs voted against the extension and nine MPs abstained from voting.
The law was approved after a long battle in parliament, thousands of women had to travel abroad each year to terminate pregnancies in countries such as Netherlands, Spain and England due to the restrictions imposed by France. However, the new time frame of abortion is still lower than other countries of Europe.
The legal limit of abortion is up to 14 weeks of pregnancy in Spain and Austria and now France has joined the line. In UK, the limit is 24 weeks.
The bill was proposed by MP Albane Gaillot, a former LREM member, he described the law as a “step forward” for women. Marie-Noëlle Battistel, a Socialist lawmaker, who co-wrote the law, called it “a big day for the rights of women”.
Health Minister Olivier Véran appreciated the new law as a step forward towards greater “pragmatism and equality”.
French President Emmanuel Macron had expressed his opposition to extending the abortion time limit to 14 weeks as it was “more traumatising” for women to terminate pregnancies at a later stage. He also said that “extended time limits are not neutral in terms of a woman’s trauma.”
Laurence Roasignol, former Socialist minister for families denied the statement of Macron about abortions being traumatic. She added that she herself had an abortion and she was not at all traumatised.
“Macron was stuck in a cliche of the past when illegal abortion was traumatic. Times had changed since the legalisation of abortion in France in 1975 and women should not be made to feel guilty, or as if they had failed, if they ended a pregnancy. I had an abortion and I’m not traumatised.”
Macron had told the European Parliament that the right to abortion should be added to the EU’s charter of fundamental rights.
Presidential Valérie Pécresse said that the new 14-week deadline is nothing but a “headlong rush that distracts from the real problem: access to abortion centres, the lack of gynaecologists and midwives”.
The law was passed in the final hours of the current parliament. The lawmakers of Macron’s party backed the law, therefore, Macron’s government allowed a free vote. Macron said that he would respect the freedom of parliamentarians.