The bill targets France's "double conscience clause," introduced in 1975, which recognizes both a general right to conscientious objection and a specific right related to abortion. The new law would require doctors and midwives who conscientiously object to give women the names of doctors and midwives who will perform abortions.
Olivier Véran, the French health minister, has referred the proposed law to the country's National Ethics Advisory Committee, which is expected to deliver its verdict before the bill goes to the Senate, the upper house of the French parliament. The move was seen as indicating the government's ambivalence about the bill, which was introduced by members of Ecology Democracy Solidarity, a centre-left parliamentary group.
Official figures published Sept. 24 showed that the number of abortions in France reached a 30-year high in 2019. The French Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics recorded 232,244 abortions last year, an increase from 224,023 abortions in 2018.
The National Assembly passed a bill Aug. 1 adding "psychosocial distress" as grounds for a medical abortion as part of the country's Bioethics Law.
The permanent council of the French bishops' conference issued a statement Oct. 6 noting that the bioethics bill would now be considered by the Senate.
It said: "For a few weeks now, pressure has been mounting in the National Assembly to further extend the time limits for abortion under the guise of women's rights and equality, reducing filiation to a simple act of the will of those who claim to be parents."