Maternal health: France -

Maternal health: France


I’m going to be parsing the prime minister’s comments on this whole no-condoms-for-Africa thing in a few minutes, but first, partly from courtesy (because I asked and because good people took a day to find out) and partly for completeness, I’m going to add the French embassy’s response to the question I was putting around the embassy circuit yesterday, which was, roughly, huh?

A spokesman wrote to me this morning, and here’s my translation of what that message said:

“We are right in the process of discussing with Canada and other G8 members about the Canadian initiative on maternal and child health. A reunion was held on March 8 and 9 and others will take place in the months ahead as the G8 approaches, June 25 and 26.

“On this major question whose scope is very wide, France believes a priority must be put, among other things, on reproductive and sexual care and services, including voluntary family planning. This is a well-known position which we defend in every international forum and which is also upheld by French NGOs.

“Here is a document which sums up our priorities and actions on health. [The document makes no mention of abortion — pw]

“Like Canada, France is a signatory of the Beijing Platform which provides for the respect of women’s right to sexual and reproductive health.”

It’s worth quoting the relevant paragraph from that 1995 Beijing Platform, which is complex but telling, in full:

“In the light of paragraph 8.25 of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, which states: “In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. All Governments and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are urged to strengthen their commitment to women’s health, to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion [16] as a major public health concern and to reduce the recourse to abortion through expanded and improved family-planning services. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies must always be given the highest priority and every attempt should be made to eliminate the need for abortion. Women who have unwanted pregnancies should have ready access to reliable information and compassionate counselling. Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process. In circumstances where abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe. In all cases, women should have access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion. Post-abortion counselling, education and family-planning services should be offered promptly, which will also help to avoid repeat abortions”, consider reviewing laws containing punitive measures against women who have undergone illegal abortions;”

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