On Tuesday January 28th, the French National Assembly approved a bill that is the most comprehensive legislation on gender equality and women’s rights in the history of France. An overwhelming majority supported the bill with votes 359-24, sending a positive signal to all women in Europe. Issues concerning gender equality, including reproductive rights, have been under fire during the last years with conservative governments in countries such as Spain, Poland and Lithuania attempting to curtail sexual and reproductive rights of their citizens. The French bill just adopted aims to improve wage parity between women and men, strengthen laws against domestic violence, fight against sexism and homophobia and improve equal representation in politics.
The bill also takes a firm stand in support of SRHR. It further strengthens the partnership with IPPF EN Member Association Planning Familial and the French government. Pregnancy terminations continue to be included in the national health care plan. The bill also introduces an important amendment to the article concerning abortion. The accepted amendment frees women seeking an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy from having to justify their decision. The bill deletes language from a 1975 law that required women to state that they are under “distress” in order to proceed with an abortion.
This change highlights that having an abortion is a question of a woman’s choice. In the light of recent developments in Spain, is more important than ever to reject any presumed moral justification for depriving women of the freedom to manage their own bodies. IPPF EN joins Planning Familial in commending this refreshing step forward for reproductive rights and gender equality.