The conscientious objection which is the more often invoked regarding abortion could be removed from the legal text currently in force. On 5th April 2013, the Minister for rights of women had seized the High Council for equality between women and men (HCEfh) asking it to deliver a first report drawing the state of the information disclosed on Internet regarding the voluntary termination of pregnancy (VTP), as well as a consolidated report on the access to VTP on the territories. In September, the HCEfh delivered its first report promoting 4 recommendations to the Minister from the creation of an institutional site to a national campaign for the VTP1. On 7th November, the HCEfh published 34 recommendations for a better access to VTP.
The recommendations of the report
In this report, the HCEfh wants to “update the diagnosis on the situation of the access and the exercise of VTP”, to convert “abortion into a right […] guaranteed by a public service” and convert “the VTP into a medical act as any other, free from moralising representations”, to give rise to “proactive actions to repair the insufficiencies of the public service”.
This way, the report recommends particularly to:
- remove the condition of distress from the current legal provision2 replacing it by “the women who does not want to continue a pregnancy can ask to a physician to terminate it” (No.1),
- remove the reflection time of 7 days separating the information visit and the visit for prescribing the VTP (No.2),
- remove the clause of conscience expressly referred to in the law on abortion (No.3),
- open to nurses, midwives, marriage counsellor, the delivery of the first certificate of VTP (No.9) or to make this certificate available online so that adult women can fill in it by themselves (No.10),
- impose to all public hospitals to perform the VTP up to 12 weeks of pregnancy (No.12), ensure all choices of VTP methods in these hospitals (No.21) and to vote a moratorium on the closure of these VTP centres (No.11).
- assign to VTP the necessary financial means (No.14)
- Include the sexuality, the contraception, and the VTP in the training of health professionals or sanitary, social, educative professionals… (No.17)
- Create a “sexuality-contraception-VTP national plan” (No.25) and a “sexuality-contraception-VTP National Observatory” allowing to assess the application of the legal provisions and the generalization of good practices (No.26).
- Finance researches on VTP (No.30).
The reactions of associations
Responding to this political will to convert the VTP into a “right”, a rapid and accessible “health care provision”, and a public health challenge, the associations expressed their disagreement.
The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, as a medical and scientific institution reminds that the VTP is a “non-medical act” which “consists in killing a human being before his birth”. It underlines that the respect for life of the human being is a value prior to the law and that men are also concerned by the question. But the woman alone will bear the burden of the guilt and the mental and somatic consequences scientifically observed. The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation asks for a public debate on abortion nourished by rational arguments and emptied from ideological approach, in the name of the common good and the elemental moral standard: to not kill.
Alliance VITA, with their listening service SOS Bébé, wonders about the “deep lack of knowledge of the reality experienced by women that show these recommendations”, reality they know thanks to their listening, and to the IFOP survey performed in 2010 on 1,000 women. This last survey showed that the abortion had nothing innocuous, its consequences were difficult to live, the women wait for a prevention policy which support them and offers means to avoid the VTP, and finally, the information on the alternatives to abortion should be more developed and particularly the adoption.
Moreover Alliance VITA challenges the legitimacy of the French Movement for the family planning (MFPF) which “promotes abortion as a solution to any unplanned or difficult pregnancy, including abroad by illegal channels of abortion after the deadline”.
There is every reason to believe that the recommendations of the HCEfh are integrated, through amendments, to the “bill for equality between women and men” (No.1380), already voted at the Senate on 17th September 2013, and which would pass in first reading at the National Assembly in January in 2014.
1. The 4 recommendations are the following: To create an institutional website dedicated to the abortion for women and professionals; Establish a 4-digit number “single point”, anonymous and free; Establish a monitoring and animation “VTP team”; Organize the 1st national information campaign regarding the question for the right to abortion.
2. “the pregnant women that her state places into a situation of distress can ask to a physician a termination of pregnancy”.