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HEALTH

Ex French president Sarkozy, 66, denies claims he ‘skipped the queue’ to get his Covid vaccine

France's former president Nicolas Sarkozy has been vaccinated against Covid-19, a source close to him confirmed on Friday, rejecting suggestions the 66-year-old ex-leader had skipped the queue.

Ex French president Sarkozy, 66, denies claims he 'skipped the queue' to get his Covid vaccine
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: AFP

The vaccination campaign in France is currently giving the jab to those aged 75 and over, though medical professionals and people at risk due to medical conditions also qualify.

Sarkozy received the vaccine on the basis of a “medical prescription”, said an aide who asked not to be identified by name.

The medical conditions that qualify under 75s to receive the vaccine at present are only the most serious – including cancer patients and transplant patients, although from next week people aged 50-64 with a condition such as diabetes will be eligible to get the injection from their GP.

READ ALSO When will you be eligible to get the Covid vaccine in France?

 

The aide did not say why Sarkozy had been granted the prescription. The former president “like any citizen, has a right to a private life and medical confidentiality,” the aide said.

Weekly magazine L'Express reported on Thursday that Sarkozy was vaccinated at a military hospital in January, prompting murmurings of discontent over how he had got the jab so fast.

There has been widespread criticism of the slow pace of the vaccine rollout in France, with 1 million people now fully vaccinated and a further 2.4 million having received their first injection – trailing well behind many other countries.

L'Express said Sarkozy, known for his impatience, had been frustrated over the slow pace of the campaign.   

France's Health Minister Olivier Véran, 40 – who qualifies for the jab as a doctor – received his vaccine on live TV earlier this month. He declined to comment when asked about Sarkozy on Thursday, pointing to medical confidentiality.

READ ALSO 10 of the funniest things people said about the French health minister's semi-topless vaccine photo

An investigation is ongoing into claims that the American Hospital of Paris offered the vaccine to its wealthy donors and board members ahead of medical staff.

Sarkozy, president from 2007 to 2012, has been mired in legal troubles since leaving office but remains a popular figure for many on the right.

On March 1st, a court will give its verdict in a corruption trial involving Sarkozy, who faces up to four years in jail if found guilty. He is also named in several other probes.

Nonetheless his latest memoir, The Time of Storms, topped best-seller lists for weeks in France last summer.

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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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