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Abortion, contraception... the struggle goes on!

category france / belgium / luxemburg | gender | feature author Friday March 04, 2005 23:14author by posted by nestor Report this post to the editors

In our so-called "sexually free" society, people everywhere talk about sexuality (hetero and patriarchal), but contraception and abortion still remain taboo in schools, families, the media, the public like... Who knows that after having been a "crime against state security" (in 1942), abortion - authorized thirty years ago, was not legalized until 2001?

Statement by Offensive Libertaire & Sociale - Paris and Organisation Communiste Libertaire

In our so-called "sexually free" society, people everywhere talk about sexuality (hetero and patriarchal), but contraception and abortion still remain taboo in schools, families, the media, the public like... Who knows that after having been a "crime against state security" (in 1942), abortion - authorized thirty years ago, was not legalized until 2001?

An abyss between the law and the reality

Who knows the revolting conditions in which a lot of abortions are still carried out in France? Who knows that the average delay of three weeks to get an appointment in an abortion clinic forces women to go abroad while they are still within the legal limit? What of the doctors who still try to make women who decide to have an abortion feel guilty? What about the operations which are in some cases still carried out without anaesthetic? Ot that too few women have access to information in order to choose the medical and surgical techniques of their abortion?

In 2001 the limit was increased to twelve weeks after conception (in the Netherlands there is no mention of time limit, the only limit being the viability of the foetus), but some hospitals continue to refuse abortion after ten weeks, forcing the women concerned to make journeys of hundreds of kilometres to some other clinic in France, or even abroad. The omnipotence of the medical profession is inadmissible. Doctors must not be allowed to domineer our lives no more than religious leaders.

The reactionary State

Whether it is the Garraud Amendment that aimed to make "involuntary interruption of a pregnancy" an offense, or the attempt to give legal status to the embryo at the European Court of Human Rights, or "SOS tout-petits" harassing "Planning familial", the attacks against the right to abortion are numerous. But what can be said about a health minister who, in 2004, wrote a preface to a book which criticized the medical interruption of pregnancies and glorifying the maternal instinct?

Or the fact that the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs has just eliminated the question of women from its list of priorities? The reality is that the State has a habit of putting the brakes on the demands of the feminist movements. Every social and political advance has always been the result of long struggle. We had to fight for three years after the 4th July 2001 law was passed in order to obtain the decrees which put it into effect (and only in part). In spite of this, the absence of real means has actually produced a reduction in our rights. In fact, as abortions are not "profitable" enough economically speaking, the private clinics that are guaranteed almost 50% of abortions in certain regions have stopped carrying them out altogether.

As for access to contraception, it is still insufficient. While contraception may be accepted socially, it is still not on an individual level: 50% of girls starting their sexual lives do not use any form of contraception. And many adult women are ignorant of their bodies, of the range of contraceptives (it doesn't always have to be the pill...), of what they can do after non-protected sexual relations, and so on. If the right to an abortion and to contraception is constantly ridiculed, it is always in the name of a patriarchal moral order that seeks to dispossess women of their bodies, to impose motherhood on them as a duty and to convince them that abortion is "traumatic".

No! We women, do not have abortions because we are in a situation of "psycho-social distress". No! Abortion is neither "the gravest" of acts nor a "last resort". It is neither a part of pleasure nor a triviality, but it is especially not a tragedy: it is the expression of our freedom to choose, of our refusal to be enslaved to the fate of sacrosanct motherhood.

Laws are never enough to change society - it is only by mobilizing ourselves that we will get what we want.

We demand:
* Total exemption from the costs of abortion and contraception
* Equal access to abortion for all, including minors and "illegal" immigrants
* An increase in time limits
* Public information campaigns on the various methods of contraception (female and male) and abortion
* Real sex education in schools and elsewhere
* An increase in the number of voluntary abortion clinics
* More support for places such as Family Planning centres and gynecological advice clinics.

An end to patriarchy, so that women's bodies can belong to them!

Organisation communiste libertaire - Paris (OCL)
c/o Egregore, B.P. 1213 - 51058 Reims Cedex

Offensive libertaire et sociale - Paris (OLS)
21 ter, rue Voltaire - 75011 Paris

Translation by FdCA-International Relations

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