IVG: The ethics committee sees "no objection" to extending the legal deadline (Archives) -

© Fabrice ELSNER

Will the period of access to voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) be reduced from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy in France?

Before a review of the text in the Senate in January, the ethics committee - seized by the government after the approval of this reform by the deputies - said that "there is no ethical objection" to this .

"There is little, if any, difference in risk for women having an abortion between 12 and 14 weeks of pregnancy," argues the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) in an "opinion".

Opposition from the National Academy of Medicine

The group of LREM deputies immediately indicated on Friday its intention to include "as soon as possible" on the agenda of the National Assembly this bill from the former EDS group, after its adoption by the Senate.

CCNE took the opposite view of the National Academy of Medicine, which had said it was opposed to a measure that it believed could increase the use of “surgical maneuvers” potentially “dangerous for women”.

Delay beyond 16 weeks in other countries

Some 1,500 to 2,000 women each year go abroad to have an abortion - mainly in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom - because they have exceeded the legal deadline in France, observes CCNE.

In these countries, the legal deadline is set beyond 16 weeks.

"It is not benevolent to let these women in great difficulty look for money and a way to go abroad", observed during a press briefing Dr Alexandra Benachi, obstetrician-gynecologist and co- rapporteur of the opinion.

The CCNE stresses, however, that it “cannot support” a legislative reform which would be “taken to remedy the multiple dysfunctions” preventing some women from having rapid access to abortion.

"Improve care as soon as possible"

"Yes, we can extend the deadline, but it is absolutely necessary to put in place certain measures to improve the care as soon as possible" of women who wish to have an abortion, summarized Alexandra Benachi.

Because access to abortion is characterized by "strong territorial disparities": fewer and fewer establishments offer this type of intervention, which can lead "to significant delays in care", deplores the CCNE .

The advisory body recommends "strengthening the means" dedicated, so that patients can be received "within five days, and urgently when (they) are close to the end of 12 weeks of pregnancy".

It is also important to strengthen the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, through educational actions in schools, or even by offering free contraception to women aged 19 to 25, who represent 65% of abortions, suggests the Committee of ethics.

What about the specific conscience clause?

“Legislative work must now continue,” said Friday the Minister Delegate in charge of Equality between women and men, Elisabeth Moreno, who “welcomed” the position of the Ethics Committee.

Elisabeth Moreno also spoke out in favor of the removal of the specific conscience clause allowing health professionals to refuse to perform abortions.

CCNE, for its part, said it was in favor of keeping it.

For him, this clause "underlines the singularity of the medical act represented by abortion".

In addition, "one cannot force a doctor or a midwife to practice a gesture which he does not want to make, because that would probably involve a degraded support for the patient", according to Alexandra Benachi.

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