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POLITICS

French MPs agree extension of health pass until July 2022

MPs in the French parliament have approved a bill extending the Covid health pass legislation until July 31st 2022 if the health situation requires it.

The French health pass could be in place until July 2022
The French health pass could be in place until July 2022. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

The narrow approval in the Assemblée nationale allows the extension of the emergency legislation that permits the use of the health pass if necessary until next summer, although the government is already talking about phasing it out in certain areas if Covid case numbers remain low.

The bill will now pass to the Senate, where it will be debated on October 28th.

The pass sanitaire (health pass) was first brought in in August, with an expiry date of November 15th and the option to extend if MPs agree.

IN NUMBERS Covid cases in France showing slight but sustained rise

The bill before parliament on Wednesday extends emergency legislation that allows the government to extend – or reintroduce – the health pass without the need to consult MPs.

As case numbers in France are low there has been discussion of scrapping the health pass either in areas with low case numbers or in certain sectors, although case numbers have seen a slight rise in the last week, prompting health minister Olivier Véran to warn his fellow MPs that the crisis is “far from over”.

The health pass is required to access a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, leisure centres, sports grounds and long-distance train travel.

It requires proof of either fully vaccinated status, recent recovery from Covid or a negative test taken within the previous 72 hours and is required for everyone over the age of 12.

Since October 15th, ‘convenience tests’ for unvaccinated people with no symptoms have no longer been free, while tourists and visitors to France also have to pay for tests.

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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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