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Abortion: is France lagging behind on legal deadlines in Europe, as Olivier Véran asserts?

“I support the extension of the deadline for abortion in France”, said the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, interviewed Wednesday, October 13, on franceinfo. The Minister of Health therefore sees a “good eye” the initiative of Christophe Castaner, the boss of the LREM group in the National Assembly, who wants the extension of the legal period for abortion to be again examined by the deputies, so that it goes from 12 to 14 weeks.

“The deadline today is 12 weeks in France, it is on average 13 weeks in the European Union, France is therefore 18th out of 27 in the country of Simone Veil, argued Olivier Véran. And if we go to 14 weeks, we will be part of the countries, along with the neighboring countries, that are at that 14 week deadline. “ This is not correct.

Regarding our direct neighbors, contrary to what Olivier Véran asserts, only Spain has a legal abortion deadline of 14 weeks. Germany and Belgium also have a maximum deadline of 12 weeks. In Italy or Switzerland, this deadline is set at 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Referring to the European average for legal abortion times makes little sense for two reasons. First of all, there is a certain vagueness in Europe on the notion of “weeks of pregnancy”. As reported in a Senate note published last August, “not all countries adopt the same approach to counting the legal period of termination of pregnancy”. Some countries like France make it clear that it should count from the day of fertilization, but others instead count from the first day of the last menstrual period, which can lead to a gap of two weeks. Some countries do not even stipulate in their law the method of calculation to be adopted.

In addition, there are large disparities in delays between countries. Most European countries set a legal deadline of between 10 and 12 weeks while a small handful of countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have much longer deadlines of 18, 22 or even 24 weeks.

This handful of countries with very favorable legal deadlines mechanically inflates the average while the majority of European women have much less time to be able to have a legal abortion, as seems to indicate a comparative table produced by IPPF-EN, the European network of the International Federation for Family Planning (pages 32 to 35).

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