French Doctors Rethinking Abortions in Face of New Law

At One Hospital, Physicians Quit en Masse

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PARIS, NOV. 7, 2001 ( A new abortion law in France is facing unexpected opposition — from doctors.

“The law is the law, but the stomach rebels” at the prospect of a later-term abortion, a doctor told the newspaper Liberation in its Nov. 3-4 edition.

Another doctor pointed out the “contradiction” that exists between the medical feats of the last few years to treat premature babies and difficult pregnancies, and later-term abortions.

The new abortion law came into force July 7 allowing abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The previous limit was 10 weeks. The law also lets minors have abortions without parental permission.

The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation ( has just completed a study of the application of the reformed law in Lyon, which reveals the intense reluctance of doctors to carry out later-term abortions.

For example, after the administration of Edouard Herriot Hospital sent a circular to its gynecology department calling for implementation of the new law, all the doctors resigned.

Croix Rousse Hospital is finding it almost impossible to recruit doctors who are willing to carry out later-term abortions. Professor Rene Charles Rudigoz, a director of the hospital, said, “There is a certain contradiction between this law and our concern to safeguard little ones and treat difficult pregnancies.”

The law is being applied at the Hôtel Dieu hospital, but one doctor, initially favorable to abortion, said: “The law is the law, but the stomach rebels,” with reference to the bloody operation entailed in a later-term abortion.

The Lejeune Foundation reports that in some hospitals, doctors are waiting to see if they are obliged to apply this law, expecting more concrete directives from the government.

The foundation also says the extension of the legal term is prompting more women to delay their decision about an abortion.

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