How to achieve access to abortion for everyone who seeks it
Round table discussion organised by the Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial (MFPF), Paris, 28 September 2023
This was an all-day event with an evening reception, and included two roundtables, presentations and discussion. It was opened by Sarah Durocher, President of MFPF, and co-chaired by her and Noémie Gardais
The introduction included some history of International Safe Abortion Day and a summary of the commitments of MFPF as regards abortion. This included national issues (including the commitment to seek to have abortion in the national Constitution) and international issues (such as being active in European elections and supporting WHO recommendations. In France, as in many other countries, the right to abortion is threatened by anti-choice activists.
In the two roundtables findings were presented on the right to abortion in France and internationally. The discussion covered which laws, both current and new, prevent access to abortion? How can laws hinder total access to abortion? How can national political changes change the situation?
-Sébastien Natroll, a journalist specialising in the United States, who talked about the consequences for the right to abortion since Roe v. Wade was annulled both at the national level and in certain US states.
-Jeanne Hefez, Ipas Advocacy Advisor, who talked about how national political changes change the situation in countries. She outlined strategies and operating methods of anti-gender and anti-choice groups and the consequences and export of the culture wars in the USA, Africa, and Europe.
-Sandrine Brame, Vice-President of the National Council of Midwives. She gave an historical review since 2016 on access to medical abortion nationally.
-Mathilde Panot, LFI deputy in the National Assembly who is actively working on putting the right to abortion in the constitution in France.
Perspectives on the strategies and means that can be put in place to guarantee real access to abortion. For example, removal of the conscience clause from the law, putting abortion in the constitution, institutionalising new technologies and processes such as telemedicine, self-management, extension of the upper time limit for abortion (the example of the Netherlands for which abortion is authorised up to 22 weeks), allowing midwives to manage abortions and do surgical abortions. In general, the need for a change in mentalities which are currently an obstacle to change.
-Marie-Noëlle Battistel, deputy member of the women’s rights delegation of the National Assembly. She wrote an information report with Mr. Guillaume Gouffier-Valente on behalf of the Delegation for Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities between Women and Men on the constitutionalisation of abortion.
-Sarah Schlitz, former Belgian Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity, Strategies within the government to improve access and the right to abortion in Belgium, especially since national elections are due to take place in the context of European elections.
SOURCE: Veronique Sehier, MFPF France, Jeanne Hefez, Ipas, E-mail: 6 October 2023
VIDEO: French protest to defend abortion rights
Strictly forbidden in some countries, severely restricted in others: abortion rights remain fragile around the world. At the rally organised in Paris by the collective “Abortion in Europe: Women Decide!” to mark International Safe Abortion Day, many people express their concern about the situation not only in the United States but also in Europe. “When we demonstrate tonight, we think about American women, we think about the Poles, we think about the Hungarians,” explains lawyer Sandra Vizzavona, author of “Interruption”.
WATCH THE VIDEO: France 24, by Juliette Montilly (French and English subtitles), 5 minutes