France’s National Assembly approved the extension of the legal deadline for performing an abortion to 14 weeks instead of 12, Le Figaro reports.
The bill, “aimed at strengthening the right to abortion,” was carried by 63 votes to 30, with six abstentions after its second examination. The initial text was proposed in October last year before the Assembly, before being rejected in the Senate. A few months ago, it was brought forward again, but lacked the support of the executive branch. Now, the persistence of MP Albane Gaillot (a non-registered member, formerly part of La République En Marche!) has brought the bill back under consideration. Final adoption under the current legislature remains uncertain. The executive body has not commented as of yet, issuing only an avis de sagesse (advisory opinion) on the provisions of the text. Minister of Health and doctor by training Olivier Véran said, however, that he was personally in favor of the extension.
Opponents of the bill, like Fabien Di Filippo (Les Républicains), intervened on Tuesday to underscore the impact of the bill on women’s health. He claimed that the accelerated rate of embryonic growth between 12 and 14 weeks changes the nature of the act of abortion, generating “potentially serious gynaecological consequences.”
Several right-wing MPs have instead pleaded for expanded access to abortion within the current 12-week precedent rather than push for an extension. Co-rapporteur Albane Gaillot replied that this measure was “not a mere whim of feminist activism” but was inspired by “meetings in the field.” She continued, “the subject is not technical, it involves the right of women to exert control over their bodies.” Responses to the vote were varied. Le comité consultatif national d’éthique said it had no objection to the extension, while le collège des gynécologues et obstétriciens opposed the measure.
MPs have yet to consider another controversial provision of the bill: altering the conscience clause doctors could previously invoke to refuse performing an abortion.