Earlier this year, France’s National Assembly moved to amend its country’s laws to reaffirm women’s absolute right to end a pregnancy through the first 12 weeks and, furthermore, criminalize any attempts to obstruct this right.
What is particularly commendable about this proposed amendment to the French abortion law is that it is not standalone legislation, but part of the even broader package of measures aimed at tackling many aspects of gender inequality. In addition to ensuring women’s access to a full range of reproductive healthcare, including abortion, the measure would also address a host of other issues such as paternity leave, beauty contests for young girls, and businesses and political parties that fail to respect gender parity.
This move to place reproductive rights within their proper context as essential elements of gender equality stands in particularly stark contrast to what is happening in other developed countries like Spain and the United States—where an alarming number of politicians demonstrate daily their rabid commitment to rolling back women’s rights and access to essential health care.
Despite Spain’s historic move just four years ago to significantly liberalize its laws to allow abortion through 14 weeks of pregnancy for all women, without restriction, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is working diligently to unravel the rights of Spanish women. If he succeeds in banning abortion under the vast majority of circumstances—with only the narrow exceptions of rape and health—Spain will become the second country in Europe to make the regressive move from a liberal abortion law to a severely restrictive one, stripping women of a right that, for most other European women, is well established as fundamental.