France Makes Abortion a Constitutional Right, While UK Sees Rise in Abortion Prosecutions

France has made abortion a constitutional right for women, becoming the first country in the world to do so. On the other hand, the UK is arresting a record number of women for abortion-related crimes.

France’s Groundbreaking Constitutional Move

France has made history by becoming the first country in the world to make abortion a constitutional right just weeks after it was revealed that more women are facing criminal charges in the UK for abortions.

Prime Minister of France, Gabriel Attal, praised the change in his speech about the new constitutional right, “It takes one generation, one year, one week for things to change drastically,” he said.

Prime Minister Attal acknowledged the struggle of “American women who must fight for abortion rights” along with those in Europe, such as “Hungarians and Poles for whom abortion is no longer an enshrined freedom.”

Rise In UK Abortion Prosecutions

In the UK, abortion has been a legal right since 1967, with a time-limit clause added in 1990 so long as it takes place within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, but in the last year there has been a concerning rise in abortion-related prosecutions.

Cases of women in the UK being prosecuted for having an abortion after the legal 24 weeks are at the highest they’ve been since before the 1960s, a huge contrast to what’s going on across the Channel.

In a study conducted by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK has seen a huge shift in the number of women facing criminal charges for abortions, some of whom even faced prison time.

Alarming Increase in UK Abortion Convictions

The UK has seen a significant surge in abortion convictions, with six women prosecuted in the last 18 months, double the number that has been convicted from 1967-2022.

In 1861, The Offences Against the Persons Act made abortion a criminal offence in England and Wales, exposing women to severe penalties including life imprisonment before it all changed in 1967.

While the Abortion Act of 1967 permits abortion under specific conditions, the underlying 1861 legislation continues to criminalize abortion, creating a legal contradiction.

Strict Rules for Abortion in UK

Under the Abortion Act in the UK, two medical practitioners must confirm that the pregnancy has not exceeded 24 weeks for an abortion to be legal.

Certain exemptions are permitted, for example, if the mother’s health is at risk or if the fetus carries any abnormalities that could lead it to live a life in suffering.

Overwhelming Parliamentary Support

Of the 902 French parliamentarians, an overwhelming majority of 780 voted in favor of the constitutional amendment, demonstrating broad consensus, with the public widely supporting the idea.

Doctors in the UK have called for a change in the so-called “outdated” law, including Dr Ranee Thakar, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’, who is concerned by the “small but increasing number of women are being prosecuted.”

Health Professionals Under Fire

Dr Thakar revealed that it’s not just the woman who can be punished for abortions carried out after 24 weeks, arguing, “health professionals are placed under unacceptable and unwarranted scrutiny.”

Recently, a woman was prosecuted for performing an abortion despite being told she could not have a safe one by medical professionals, forcing her to carry it out herself as the police found a fetus in the woods.

Police Use Controversial Method to Find Culprit

To find the culprit, the police asked for classified information on every woman who had been refused an abortion in the clinic, although that was met with scrutiny by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

“We owe our clients a duty of confidentiality. If this is information you want, you’ll have to get a court order,” argued the CEO of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Claire Murphy.

Will It Change?

MPs are soon to vote to pass an amendment that would fully decriminalize abortion in England and Wales, as opposed to the partial decriminalization that we’ve seen in the last 50 years.

As France leads the way in global abortion progression, the UK, despite being just 20 miles apart, seems much further away in the current abortion debate.

The post France Makes Abortion a Constitutional Right, While UK Sees Rise in Abortion Prosecutions first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Obatala-photography.

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