France New Abortion Law 2024

March 19, 2024

Abortion was felony with sentencing up- to 20 years in prison in France. The law was liberalised by the Veil act 1975. In 1975, La Loi Veil was passed, decriminalizing abortion in France. The law was introduced by the presiding Health Minister Simone Veil, under the French President, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who was in term from the year 1974 to 1981. Simon veil was a Nazi concentration camp survivor. Large protests and resistance were held against Ms. Veil and was personally attacked, in a then conservative catholic country like France.

The Veil Act (Law 75-17 of 15 January 1975), permitted a woman to receive an abortion on request until the tenth week of pregnancy. The law was renewed permanently in December 1979.

Abortion in France is legal upon request until 14 to 16 weeks after conception.  Abortions at later stages of pregnancy could be done if two physicians certify the health conditions that might endanger the pregnant woman or the child.

On March 4,2024 Joint sessions of both houses of the Parliament convened at Versailles, approved by the three- fifth majority passed the law affirming the rights of women to abortion to be basic law in the constitution with an overwhelming public support.

In January, the national Assemblée of France overwhelmingly approved making abortion a "guaranteed freedom" in the Constitution.

France becomes the only country in the world to clearly protect the right to terminate a pregnancy. President Emmanuel Macron pledged last year to include and enshrine abortion. This came after the alarmed verdict of the US Supreme Court in 2022, which was existing almost a half a century, making a rule for the states to ban or curtail the right to procedure.

Article 89 of the Constitution, which lays down the procedures for revising the Constitution, stipulates that any proposed revision must be "voted by both assemblies in identical terms" before being "approved by referendum." However, the draft may be adopted without a referendum if "the President of the Republic decides to submit it to Parliament convened in a joint session of both houses of Parliament. The text was widely adopted by the Assemblée Nationale with492 votes in favor, 30 against and also by the Sénat (267 votes in favor, 50 against).

However, criticisms remain as to the hurdles that may exist with the policies which entitles the individual medical personnel to refuse abortion on the grounds of religion or belief under the conscience clause, which exists in the neighbouring countries as Italy, Poland and Romania. The government should remove all such barriers to fulfil the legal obligations to entail the right of abortion and its necessity, making it accessible safer and legal. It should also expand in access to medical abortion via telemedicine on international standards and combat the stigma around abortion.

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