RÉUNION/FRANCE – Proposal to include the right to abortion in the Constitution of France
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Aug 7, 2019
The island of Réunion, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, is still a territory of France. Now, 50 members of the French National Assembly, including three from Réunion, have proposed that the right to abortion should be included in the French Constitution.
The French abortion law, the Veil Law, dates back to 1975, passed under Health Minister Simone Veil. Among the reasons that may hinder access to legal abortions today, however, despite this law, is the use of the conscience clause. In France, there is a general clause allowing “conscience” for all types of medical treatment, and a specific clause related to abortion. Feminist groups defending abortion rights have regularly called for the removal of the conscience clause for physicians in relation to abortion. On 26 June 2019, Marlene Schiappa, Secretary of State for Equality between Women and Men, described their demand as “legitimate” in a speech to the delegation for women’s rights of the National Assembly. She reported that committee had been set up in mid-June to determine what the “necessary legislative changes” should be as regards access to abortion. She stressed that it was important to allow time for this, in order to “involve all stakeholders”, according to Ouest-France.