PARIS, November 28, 2003 ( – French law was amended today to introduce penalties for crimes perpetrated against the unborn. The amendment creates a new offence – involuntary termination of a pregnancy, and includes penalties and prison time for acts that, through negligence or recklessness, kill an unborn child.

Legislators say the amendment would have no consequence upon a woman’s access to abortion. France legalized abortion in 1975.  Current law has no provision for the unborn, as the fetus is not considered a person. Those who through medical error or by accident kill an unborn child are thus not currently liable to penalty.  Prominent women’s rights lawyer Gisele Halimi, when interviewed on France-Info radio on the topic, said “[the new law is] a measure that reflects the influence of extreme-right and fundamentalist thinking.”

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