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French Prime Minister to present strategy to end coronavirus lockdown

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will on Tuesday present the national strategy for emerging from the coronavirus lockdown, his office told AFP.

French Prime Minister to present strategy to end coronavirus lockdown
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (R) speaks with Managing Director of University Hospital of Strasbourg (HUS) Christophe Gautier. Photo: PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP

His announcement at the National Assembly will be followed by a debate and a vote. An app for tracing contacts of confirmed cases is also due to be unveiled Tuesday.

Seventeen priorities have been identified for gradually bringing the country out of lockdown from May 11.

France records 369 more Covid-19 deaths as ICU numbers drop for 17th straight day

These include reopening schools, companies returning to work, getting public transport back to normal, the supply of masks and sanitiser, testing policy and support for the elderly.

A dozen ministers will on Monday consult with representatives of local authorities to discuss various options.

France has been under coronavirus restrictions since March 17 and the government faces a delicate balancing act to revive the economy without triggering a resurgence in the epidemic.

Only 39 percent of the French public have confidence in the government's ability to deal effectively with the virus, seven points lower than last week, according to an Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche.

The pandemic has killed 22,614 people in France since the start of March, with 369 new deaths recorded in the previous 24 hours, according to official figures released late Saturday, which saw a significant drop in hospital deaths.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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