FRANCE – Request by women’s rights members of parliament to extend the upper time limit for surgical abortion during the pandemic fails

On 28 May, a request for an extension of the upper time limits for surgical abortion by two weeks, from 14 weeks to 16 weeks LMP, was rejected by the Senate by 156 votes to 143, with 37 abstentions. Proposing the extension was Senator Laurence Rossignol (top left), former Minister of Women’s Rights, Laurence Cohen (top right) of the French Communist Party also involved in women’s rights, and a number of professional organisations. It was said that it was primarily doctors who rejected this reform – in spite of the known increased incidence of rape and increased difficulties in accessing abortion care.

SOURCES: E-mail from Veronique Sehier, Planning Familial, 4 June 2020 ; PublicSenat.fr, by François Vignal, 28 May 2020 ; TerraFemina, by Clément Arbrun, 29 May 2020

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Challenge to stop telemedicine and home use of abortion pills also fails

Anti-abortion groups petitioned the Council of State to suspend the decree of the Minister of Health of 14 April 2020 approving the use of telemedicine and self-managed abortion at home during the Covid-19 pandemic up to 9 weeks pregnancy LMP. The judge in summary proceedings rejected this request. He observed that the use of teleconsultations for abortion aim to help reduce the circulation of the Covid-19 virus. The applicants claimed there was a risk with home use of the medications. However, in a defence registered on 4 May 2020, the Minister of Solidarity and Health concluded that the application should be dismissed. He maintained that none of the pleas raised had created a serious doubt as to the legality of the provisions in dispute. The judge also noted that the doctor or midwife who prescribes the pills informs the woman of the measures to be taken in the event of side effects, prescribes appropriate pain relief and informs her that in the event of difficulty she can go to a health establishment for treatment. The judge also observed that the authorisation of home use is based on a protocol validated by the High Authority for Health. The plea was rejected on 22 May.

SOURCE: Conseil-Etat.fr, 22 May 2020 (en français). E-mail from: Véronique Sehier, Le Planning Familial, France, 28 May 2020