Abortion: in the Senate, the right-wing majority rejects the extension of the legal deadline

“All of this was dramatically predictable”, commented Senator PS Laurence Rossignol, who brought the bill “aimed at strengthening the right to abortion” before the upper house on Wednesday. The main provision of this text aims to extend the legal period of access to abortion from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. The Senate, with a right-wing majority, rejected this transpartisan proposal adopted at first reading in the National Assembly. It was then carried by the unregistered Member of Parliament Albane Gaillot (ex-Ecologie Démocratie Solidarité, dissident group of LREM). After two hours of “general discussion”, the upper house voted by 201 votes for and 142 against a motion for “preliminary question” presented by Corinne Imbert of the Les Républicains group. The latter allows a text to be rejected without examining the articles. This rejection will not however prevent the continuation of the parliamentary shuttle, the text will return to the National Assembly for a second reading.

Too long support times, glaring territorial disparities, shortage of doctors, closures of abortion centers… faced with a path strewn with pitfalls, many women find themselves out of time. In France, 1,500 to 2,000 women would have had an abortion abroad in 2018, because of exceeding the legal term, according to the report of the National Consultative Ethics Committee issued in mid-December. Seized by the government, he estimated that“There is no ethical objection to extending the period of access to abortion” two weeks. A decision in reverse of the opinion of the Order of Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine or the National College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of France. According to the report of the delegation for women’s rights, it is rather between 3,000 and 4,000 women after the deadline who go abroad to have an abortion, thus widening the inequalities. Facing certain parliamentarians with their contradictions, Laurence Rossignol underlined: “I have seen some colleagues on Twitter congratulating themselves on the legalization of abortion in Argentina. However, a period of 14 weeks was retained. “

“The same arguments as in 2010”

The text also provides for the elimination of the conscience clause specific to abortion. Each doctor can, thanks to this clause, refuse to perform any medical act, but abortion is the only one to have a specific second one. A symbolically strong proposal aimed at finally making abortion a medical act like any other. On this point, the ethics committee decided to maintain it. However, “it does not provide any additional protection for doctors who do not wish to perform an abortion ”, recalled Laurence Rossignol in session. She regrets : “For 45 years, the position of the right is more or less always the same, I found this Wednesday the same arguments as in 2010 during the debate on the extension from 10 to 12 weeks: fears ofeugenics, that women will abort later… which has not happened. ” She continues: “They subsequently rally to the rule of law but always oppose existing law to the advances that are proposed.” In sum, “The parliamentary right is still one metro behind compared to the opinion of the country because no one is proposing to come back at 10 weeks. “

If a general debate was still able to take place, the former minister regrets “Not to have been able to improve the text”. Aware that the extension of the delays will not improve access to abortion for all women, she proposed “To make sexual and reproductive health, currently a blind spot in health policy, a public health priority.” In this idea, she proposes the creation of a National Institute of Sexual and Reproductive Health in the image of the National Cancer Institute. “It would encompass the issues of both abortion, contraception but also fertility”, she explains, hoping that this idea “Will walk in the mind of the government”.

“We remain mobilized”

Co-President of Family Planning Sarah Durocher says “Disappointed that the allies were unable to propose amendments”. The association supports Laurence Rossignol’s desire to see issues of sexual health in a holistic way. “A constant fight for rights that are permanently threatened”, she adds. “The important thing is that this bill will gain ground, we remain mobilized now to challenge our deputies.” The Socialist Senator abounds: “The government must assume its responsibilities by convening a joint committee after the second reading so that this bill ends up being successful.” Noting “without surprise” in a press release “Strong ideological hostility to abortion” from the right, Albanne Gaillot “Rejoices” that the majority group LREM has already indicated its intention to put it back on the Senate agenda. A compromise with the majority, which had largely supported the text at first reading despite the reluctance of the government, on the part of the president of the group Christophe Castaner? Laurence Rossignol sees in any case in the words of Adrien Taquet, Secretary of State in charge of Children and Families who represented the government, a “Positive sign” : “He said he wanted the parliamentary shuttle to continue. I pointed out to her “Mr. Minister if you said that it was not to make her get bogged down” “. The Socialists have also announced their intention to take advantage of a parliamentary niche in February to put the bill on the agenda. Who will draw the first?

Source: Liberation – A la une sur Libération by www.liberation.fr.

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