France passes law expanding abortion, contraception, and imposing presumed consent for organ donation
PARIS, December 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The French Assembly voted France’s new Health Act into law last Thursday, after several months of parliamentary discussions in which the Senate opposed the text on many points. The Assembly, which is heavily dominated by the Left, had the final word. Many aspects of the new organization imposed on France’s health services are socialist in nature, such as the introduction of universal “third party payments” that will exempt social security beneficiaries from making direct payments when visiting the doctor. But even worse are the dispositions of the text that aim to promote abortion and contraception, particularly among minors. And for the first time in French law, organ donation will be presumed and mandatory for all those who will not have registered as non-donors. The law even institutes abortion quotas in public hospitals all over the country.
Since François Hollande was elected president of France in 2012, he has kept very few of his promises – except for those relative to societal change. Same-sex “marriage,” 100 percent state-funded abortions, compulsory celebration of secularism in schools, etc. have been instituted with relentless regularity, be it through fully-fledged special legislation or as part of other more or less related texts.
This time round the health minister, Marisol Touraine, used an overhaul of the Public Health Code as an excuse for changing the law on a large number of points, turning it into an accelerator for the culture of death. Most parliamentarians concentrated on the financial aspects of the law, as well as concerns about the freedom of medicine and the status of liberal practice. Opposition to the furthering of “abortion rights” was less tough.
The only disposition that was successfully blocked was the attempt to prohibit embalming procedures in deceased persons’ homes. That would have made the custom of waking corpses of loved ones in their familiar surroundings all but obsolete in the interest of non-discrimination, insofar as persons who died from an infectious disease must by law be transported to a funeral parlor.
One of the main targets of the new disposition are minors. Under the “Loi Touraine,” as it is called, young girls will unconditionally be able to obtain “morning after pills” in secondary school infirmaries without parental consent or notification. This was already possible up to a point, but only when the adolescent girl had no access to a doctor, a midwife, or a family planning unit and was “in distress.” Under the new law no questions will be asked and the potentially abortive “emergency contraceptive,” heavily laced with hormones, will be administered by school nurses, regardless of the “state of emergency” or “distress” of the young girl.
School nurses will also be entitled to refer minors to family planning centers without parental notification or consent.
Abortion itself will also be made easier and conscientious objection more limited.
The new law dispenses women who are seeking to abort from observing a compulsory “cooling off period” of seven days. A number of “Republican” senators have already challenged this at the French Constitutional Court on the grounds that all elective chirurgical operations are subject to a waiting period. The Court’s answer can be expected within a few months.
Under the “Loi Touraine,” midwives will be allowed to perform medical abortions – a “privilege” that up until now belonged to physicians – while general practitioners practicing in “health centers” will be allowed to perform surgical abortions.
Health workers shall provide full information about contraceptives whenever a patient demands it under their right to be “informed about the whole range of contraceptive methods.” According to the new law, “Only emergency or the impossibility to procure such information can dispense them from doing so.” The same goes for abortion: “All persons have the right to be informed about abortion procedures and to choose one freely. Such information must be given by all health professionals according to his competence and in full respect of the professional rules that apply.”
One of the most controversial points of the law was introduced as an amendment by about 80 socialist deputies to the National Assembly in April: the principle of abortion quotas to make sure that any woman seeking a “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” (IVG) as it is euphemistically called in France will obtain it rapidly. The Senate rejected the amendment but it was reintroduced without government resistance into the definitive text.
The disposition obliges all regional health agencies that organize and coordinate health care under government control, to “implement a plan of action for access to voluntary interruption of pregnancy, taking into account the national guidelines established by the ministry of Health.” The objective is to “reinforce the quality and scale of IVG’s being offered.” Many pro-life groups in France, including the Fondation Jérôme-Lejeune and Alliance Vita, have shown that this equates with fixing compulsory abortion rates and objectives in public hospitals, to the tune of one abortion for four live births.
But the law also upsets the already highly unsatisfactory balance of France’s bioethics law which was adopted in 2011 after extensive consultations and confrontation within Parliament. This time round, assisted reproductive technology is even more banal than it used to be, with women submitting to fertility procedures being afforded paid leave much as pregnant women, and embryo research in this context will be all but freely available. The law explicitly allows screening both of male and female reproductive cells and of conceived embryos, as well as experimenting, opening the door a little bit wider to eugenics.
While François Hollande’s promises regarding “medically assisted death” are still waiting to be implemented, end of life situations were not forgotten in the new law that has created the legal presumption that all French nationals are organ donors. Under article 192 of the “Loi Touraine,” a medical doctor who wishes to harvest organs on a deceased patient will be able to do so if the patient has turned 18 and has not registered his opposition in a national register of “refusers.” The doctor must notify and explain his decision to the patient’s loved ones but these cannot prevent the “donation” from taking place.
Most organ harvesting takes place on persons who are deemed to be “brain dead,” even though their heart is beating and their respiratory function is working efficiently with the help of a ventilator. Laws on brain death vary from one country to another. While they are more stringent in France than in the US, they still cannot guarantee that the patient is dead and serious doubts exist as to whether a “brain dead” person is not actually being killed by the harvesting of his or her vital organs.
For all intents and purposes, the new French law is claiming the bodies of adult French citizens as property of the State and of medical teams, as long as their owners were not careful to express their opposition when they were still fit enough to do so.