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France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French President Emmanuel Macron is among the many international voices to criticise the latest ruling from the US Supreme Court.

France's President Emmanuel Macron has described the US Supreme Court decision as an attack on women's rights.
France's President Emmanuel Macron has described the US Supreme Court decision as an attack on women's rights. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday condemned the US Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down the right to abortion, saying it was a challenge to women’s freedoms.

“Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I express my solidarity with the women whose freedoms are today undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States,” he tweeted. 

On Friday, the conservative-dominated court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision enshrining a woman’s right to an abortion, saying individual states can restrict or ban the procedure themselves — which half appear poised to do.

The Supreme Court ruling will likely set in motion a cavalcade of new laws in roughly half of the 50 US states that will severely restrict or outright ban and criminalise abortions, forcing women to travel long distances to states that still permit the procedure.

France’s Foreign Minister joined Macron in condemning the decision, describing it as “appalling”. 

“The overturning by the US Supreme Court of the right to abort is a major setback for fundamental rights,” she wrote on Twitter. 

“France will continue to defend them,” she added.

Abortion in France

France was relatively late to legalise abortion – terminating pregnancy was legalised in 1975, driven by the politician and holocaust survivor Simone Veil – still a revered figured for many French feminists.

Before 1975 abortion had been illegal and vigorously prosecuted – the Vichy government that ruled France during World War II made it a capital offence and the last person to be executed under this law was Marie-Louise Giraud, who was guillotined in 1943.

READ MORE What is the law on abortion in France?

The law has been progressively relaxed since then, with the most recent change to the law occurring in February 2022.

Until then, the limit for on-demand abortion was 12 weeks, but this was extended to 14 weeks in one of the last bills passed under president Emmanuel Macron’s first term as president.

There is no requirement to to prove a risk to either the physical or mental health of mother or child in order to secure a termination.

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POLITICS

UK police arrest man over 2021 deaths of 27 people in Channel tragedy

UK police on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of playing a "key role" in the deaths of at least 27 people who drowned attempting to cross the Channel in a dinghy last November.

UK police arrest man over 2021 deaths of 27 people in Channel tragedy

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said 32-year-old Harem Ahmed Abwbaker was arrested at an address near Cheltenham, southwest England.

He is suspected of being “a member of the organised crime group who conspired to transport the migrants to the UK in a small boat”.

NCA investigators are working with the French authorities to track down those responsible for the tragedy.

French prosecutors have so far charged 10 people for their alleged role in the disaster on November 24 last year.

It was the worst accident in the Channel since the narrow strait became a key route for people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia attempting to reach England from France.

The vessel sank after leaving the French coast, leading to the death of all but two of those aboard. Four people remain missing.

The suspect will appear before London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday, where extradition proceedings to France will commence.

READ ALSO What is France doing to prevent small-boat crossings of the Channel?

Charges faced there include the French equivalent of manslaughter and facilitating illegal immigration.

“This is a significant arrest and comes as part of extensive inquiries into the events leading to these tragic deaths in the Channel,” said NCA deputy director Craig Turner.

“The individual detained today is suspected of having played a key role in the manslaughter of those who died.

“Working closely with our French partners we are determined to do all we can to get justice for the families of those whose lives were lost,” he added.

Among the 27 – aged seven to 47 – were 16 Iraqi Kurds, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese.

Tributes and demonstrations took place on Thursday for the 27 victims of the tragedy that France’s interior minister admitted should have been prevented.

Several boats packed with rescuers and local elected figures took to sea off the coast of Dunkirk to mark the anniversary.

“It’s a tragedy that we were expecting and there will probably be others,” said the head of the local branch of the SNSM lifeboat service, Alain Ledaguenel.

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