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HEALTH

Macron promises ‘change of pace’ in France’s Covid vaccine programme

France should be vaccinating "morning, noon and evening", President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday as he tackles criticism that the Covid-19 immunisation drive has been too slow.

Macron promises 'change of pace' in France's Covid vaccine programme
Emmanuel Macron, right, and health minister Olivier Véran visit a pharmacy. Photo: Yoan Valat/AFP

“We’re going to change pace from April,” Macron said during a visit to an inoculation centre in the northern town of Valenciennes, adding there should be “no weekend and days off when it comes to vaccinations”.

He added that from Saturday, people over 70 with no underlying health conditions can book a vaccine appointment.

READ ALSO When will I be eligible for the Covid vaccine in France?

France is tackling a third wave of infections but is lagging behind many Western countries in terms of the number of people vaccinated.

It has rolled out some 8.8 million doses, compared with over 30 million in Britain and nearly 11 million in Germany.

While the inoculation drive has sped up in recent weeks, it has failed to keep step with a spike in new cases, which prompted the government to place a third of the population under ‘lockdown light’ last weekend.

The government announced on Monday that the army would set up 35 mass vaccination centres.

Until now, France has been relying on community halls, leisure centres, hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and pharmacies while the US, Britain and several other countries have requisitioned stadiums.

France aims to vaccinate 10 million people by mid-April and 30 million by mid-June.

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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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