• France's news in English
 

Abortion: French MPs vote to relax legislation

Published: 22 Jan 2014 12:11 GMT+01:00

French lawmakers gave the green light on Tuesday to a change in the country’s abortion laws that will please certain women’s rights campaigners but has angered some critics on the political right.

The National Assembly voted late in the night to pass a key amendment to the current legislation, which states that the woman must prove that having a baby would put her "in a situation of distress" before she can terminate the pregnancy.

Lawmakers voted to delete the notion of having to prove “distress”, which critics argued was archaic, meaning it will now be down to the woman’s choice.

The bill, was passed after two hours of passionate debate in the presence of around 100 French MPs on opposing sides, has created divisions in France, which although officially secular is a deeply Catholic country.

THe new legislation also punishes those who try to prevent a woman from going to places where she can receive information on terminating a pregnancy.

“Abortion is a right in itself and not something that is simply tolerated depending on the conditions,” said Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s Minister of Women’s Rights, who is the driving force behind the bill.

SEE ALSO: Ten things to know about France's new equality bill

Jean-François Copé leader of France’s conservative UMP said: “The government is pathetic when it seeks to divide the country. It’s better to prevent unwanted pregnancies and support pregnant women in difficulty who wish to keep their child.”

Abortions are currently legal in France up to 12 weeks, but after that they must be signed off by two doctors, on the grounds that having the baby will risk the woman’s health or life, or if it is prooved that the baby will suffer from a severe incurable illness.

The legislative battle is largely symbolic, given that France records around 220,000 abortions a year, and it is estimated that around one in three Frenchwomen undergoes the procedure in her lifetime.

The state health system began reimbursing abortion costs about a year ago.Earlier in Tuesday's debate France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine blasted a Spanish plan to tighten abortion laws saying it will take women back "to the Stone Age"

"The proposed Spanish law constitutes an unprecedented regressive step that will take women back to the Stone Age," Touraine said in her New Year wishes to the press. 

She called for action to ensure that "this proposal is not accepted."

Spain's conservative government, under pressure from the Catholic Church, last month said it would roll back a 2010 law allowing women to freely opt for abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Staff reporter (news@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Three dead after French Alps avalanche
A group of tourists has been swept away by an avalanche in the French Alps. File Photo: AFP

Three dead after French Alps avalanche

UPDATED: Three people were killed and several were injured in a massive avalanche that hit the French Alps on Wednesday afternoon. READ  

French schools scandal
Scandal of paedophile teachers shocks France
Photo: AFP

Scandal of paedophile teachers shocks France

France’s education minister promised a thorough investigation on Wednesday into "systematic failures” after it emerged that numerous teachers were employed to work in schools despite having previous convictions for paedophilia. READ  

Smoking in Paris
Paris gets tough on café terrace smokers

Paris gets tough on café terrace smokers

As Parisians continue to ignore laws that ban smoking inside closed off cafe terraces, the Town Hall has sent a reminder to police that they shouldn't hesitate to crack down on both the smokers and the cafe owners not abiding by the rules. READ  

Young French women turn to 'le binge drinking'
Binge drinking is becoming all the more common in France. Photo: Shutterstock

Young French women turn to 'le binge drinking'

More and more young French people are turning to binge-drinking, especially teenage girls, as the Anglo Saxon habit continues to be adopted by the youth of France. The country's health minister has vowed to tackle the issue. READ  

Drone porn!? The best April Fools from France
The departure board in Lille. Photo: SylvieBRawlings/Twitter

Drone porn!? The best April Fools from France

France joined in on the fun of April Fools' on Wednesday, with everything from news about giraffe yoghurt to train journeys to Sydney from northern France. Here's a selection of our favourites from France and the rest of The Local Europe. READ  

France set to keep ban on gay men giving blood
Photo: Donate.

France set to keep ban on gay men giving blood

France's national ethics committee has recommended that the country upholds the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood, stating that more research is needed before any changes are made to the law. Gay rights groups have reacted furiously. READ  

Alps plane crash video 'must' be given to police
A video has reportedly emerged showing the final moments of the doomed Germanwings flight. Archive Photo: AFP

Alps plane crash video 'must' be given to police

Prosecutors investigating the crash of a Germanwings plane in the French Alps have demanded that a video purportedly showing the final moments of the flight inside the cabin must be handed over to investigators. READ  

No charges for Sarkozy in campaign finance case
Nicolas Sarkozy seen here alongside Jean-Francois Copé who is also implicated in the campaign funding scandal. Photo: AFP

No charges for Sarkozy in campaign finance case

French judges decided on Wednesday not to charge Nicolas Sarkozy over a campaign finance scandal but placed the former president under a special status that leaves the door open for further questioning. READ  

Two babies die in France after vaccinations
Concern in France over vaccinations for gastroenteritis. Photo: AFP

Two babies die in France after vaccinations

Health authorities in France are reviewing whether a common vaccine to prevent stomach illnesses should be given to babies, after it emerged this week that two newborns died following the inoculations. READ  

April Fools!
Paris bistros crack down on loud-mouthed tourists
One of the new campaign posters in a cafe in the 10th arrondissement.

Paris bistros crack down on loud-mouthed tourists

Numerous cafes and bistros across the City of Light have signed up to a provocative campaign aimed at cracking down on loud-mouthed foreign tourists, claiming they're ruining "the sophistication of the Paris dining experience". READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
France's 'winter truce' has been called off, but what exactly is it?
National
April Fool's: Trains to Sydney, drone porn, noisy tourist bans...
National
What's on in France: Ten things to do in April
National
Paris bistros crack down on loud tourists. Surely it's an April Fools
National
The key reforms of France's healthcare bill
National
Here's the place to get the best baguettes in Paris
More French pensioners head abroad to settle
Is it possible to make the most of fine food in Paris on a student budget?
Travel
Everything (well 12 things) you didn't know about the Eiffel Tower
Who were the winners and losers in France's local elections?
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Paris: France mulls lifting ban on casinos
Does low cost mean low safety? Questions after Germanwings crash
Gallery
IN PICTURES: A timeline of the Alps plane crash
National
Where in La Belle France do British expats avoid?
National
IN PICTURES: 'Tide of the century' draws tens of thousands
National
Paris ends smog-fighting restrictions as the air finally clears
National
The main mistakes made by French property buyers
National
International French Language day: But what does the future hold?
National
IN PICTURES: What went on behind the clouds during Friday's eclipse
National
French food porn: What is the Gallic grub that goes viral the most?
Culture
France treated to rare Northern Lights show
Politics
Shady candidates undermine French far-right's election bid once again
Politics
French minister takes a swipe at overuse of Franglais in workplace
French gastronomy set for global charm offensive
French newspaper stuns readers with porn film pics on front page
Sport
The reasons why Zlatan Ibrahimovic might really think France is s**t
National
France could soon ban skinny models from catwalks
Health
Is France's much-envied health care system under threat?
National
There are jobs in France where you don't need to speak French
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Education
Paris universities on the up in new rankings
Sport
We meet one of the most entertaining footballers in France
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Features
Forget Paris. Is Bordeaux the best place to live in France?
Travel
Runaway plane mows down skier on the slopes of French Alps
Society
Friday 13th: A look at France's superstitions
Culture
France is ready to end its stubborn resistance to the English language
Features
'Hedgehog' and other words that French people simply can't say
Society
The worst 'nightmares' of living in France (written by a Frenchman)
Health
French hospitals crisis: 'It's like the UK under Margaret Thatcher'
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in France
VIDEO: Footage emerges of the moment two helicopters collided
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Helicopter crash kills 10, including French sports stars
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se