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HEALTH

French MPs approve law to extend abortion time limit

MPs in France have approved a law that extends the deadline for abortions, despite opposition from pro-life activists and far-right representatives.

French MPs approve law to extend abortion time limit
Pro-choice campaigners at a demonstration in Paris in 2020. (Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt / AFP)

The law extending the abotion limit from 12 weeks to 14 weeks was approved by 135 lawmakers in a final vote in the Assemblée nationale on Wednesday, with 47 MPs voting against the extension, and nine abstaining.

It will be one of the final bills to be passed in this Parliament before it closes ahead of April’s presidential election.

According to campaigners, some 3,000 French women are forced to go abroad each year – often to the Netherlands, Spain or England – to have an abortion because they have exceeded the legal time limit. 

France now moves in line with Spain and Austria where abortion is legal up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. In the UK, the limit is 24 weeks.

But a clause allowing doctors to refuse to perform abortions on ‘moral grounds’ survived the vote, despite efforts from some MPs to get it scrapped. 

MP Albane Gaillot, a former LREM member, who proposed the bill, described it as a “step forward” for women.

And Health Minister Olivier Véran welcomed the news as a move towards greater “pragmatism and equality”.

“Today is an important day for sexual and reproductive health and an important day for women’s health,” he said, describing the law as crucial, “to end the distress of the thousands of women who have to go abroad”.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse has said the new 14-week deadline is “a headlong rush that distracts from the real problem: access to abortion centres, the lack of gynaecologists and midwives”.

A motion to reject the bill tabled by pro-life activists and far-right MPs had been rejected on Wednesday.

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FOOD & DRINK

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

Children in nine European countries, including 81 in France, were affected

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

More than 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products have been withdrawn from the market over salmonella fears leaving a dent of tens of millions of euros, a company official has told France’s Le Parisien.

Nicolas Neykov, the head of Ferrero France, said the contamination came “from a filter located in a vat for dairy butter”, at a factory in Arlon in Belgium.

He said the contamination could have been caused by humans or raw materials.

Chocolate products made at the factory in Arlon, southeastern Belgium, were found to contain salmonella, resulting in 150 cases in nine European countries.

Eighty-one of these were in France, mainly affecting children under 10 years old.

The factory’s closure and the health concerns were blows to its owner, Italian confectionery giant Ferrero, coming at the height of the Easter holiday season when its Kinder chocolates are sought-after supermarket buys.

“This crisis is heartbreaking. It’s the biggest removal of products in the last 20 years,” Neykov said.

But the company hoped to be able to start up the factory again, with 50 percent of health and safety inspections to be carried out by an approved “external laboratory” in the future, instead of the previous system of only internal reviews.

“We have asked for a reopening from June 13 to relaunch production as soon as possible,” he added.

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