Marjorie Agen


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    A national campaign to de-stigmatize abortion in France: why?

    Danielle Gaudry, Marjorie Agen, Shiva Bernhard Le Planning Familial, Paris, France -

    Abortion and contraceptive methods are a fundamental part of Human Rights: women have a right to choose whether to be pregnant or not. WHO guidelines about safe abortions demonstrate that the legalization and improved safety and accessibility of abortion are essential for women's health: postabortion deaths disappear, postabortion complications, including accidental infertility, are reduced. In the August 2011 report to the UN "Right of everyone to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health" the Special Rapporteur considers "the impact of criminal and other legal restrictions on abortion conduct during pregnancy; contraception and family planning and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information. Some criminal and other legal restrictions in each of those areas, which are often discriminatory in nature, violate the right to health by restricting access to quality goods, services and information. They infringe human dignity by restricting the freedoms to which individuals are entitled under the right to health, particularly in respect of decision-making and bodily integrity." It is violence against women to oblige them to stay pregnant when they don't choose to be pregnant. In French society, as well as other European countries, the model of pregnancy and maternity in a heteronormative family is prevalent. Traditionalists, in the "la manif pour tous" movement, dream about a social standard where women are the complement of men and where equality between the sexes doesn't exist. The rejection of the Estrella report by the EU parliament and the "one of us" initiative have demonstrated easily that "obscurantism is at our doorstep" (Veronique Keyser). Some official decisions recently taken in France, including the 100% refund for abortion and the change of law on the reference to distress, are positive signs, and the campaign in Luxembourg for instance, contribute to lifting the taboo on the right to abortion. Many hospitals and abortion centres however have disappeared since 2001, with governmental budget cuts resulting in the merger of French hospitals. Women are obliged to wait two to three weeks for an appointment, often traveling 60 to 80 km to access surgical or medical abortion. These facts are real difficulties in the exercise of the right to abortion. For these reasons, it is critical to provide a communication platform to women, their relatives, and medical professionals, to allow a debate about abortion without prejudice or guilt. So, the Planning Familial has created a website where everyone can improve abortion rights, by answering a questionnaire, monitoring social networks and forums, sharing the poster and the site address. More than 1,000 questionnaires have been completed to date, since April 2014. We would like to present the site "l'avortement, un droit à defendre" to the FIAPAC.