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France's parliament approves extending abortion limit to 14 weeks

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By Euronews  with AFP
Parliament members attend a session of questions to the Government at the French National Assembly in Paris.
Parliament members attend a session of questions to the Government at the French National Assembly in Paris.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Francois Mori, File

France's parliament has approved a new law extending the deadline for abortions from 12 weeks to 14 weeks.

The bill allows more time for citizens to voluntarily terminate their pregnancy, amid a shortage of doctors and the steady closure of recognised abortion centres.

According to campaigners, 3,000 French women are forced to go abroad each year to have an abortion because they have exceeded the legal time limit.

France now moves in line with Spain and Austria where abortion is legal up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, while in the UK, the time limit is 24 weeks.

The new law also permits midwives to carry out instrumental medical procedures.

The proposed bill was first put forward by opposition MP Albane Gaillot and has received support from President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche! party.

The law was approved by 135 lawmakers in a final vote in the National Assembly on Wednesday. 47 MPs voted against the extension, while 9 abstained from voting.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran has hailed the new law as a step towards greater "pragmatism and equality".

"Today is an important day for sexual and reproductive health and an important day for women's health," he said.

A motion to reject the bill tabled by pro-life activists and some far-right MPs was rejected again on Wednesday.

Presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse has said the new 14-week deadline is "a headlong rush that distracts from the real problem: access to abortion centres, the lack of gynaecologists and midwives".