after constitutionalization, Mathilde Panot and Mélanie Vogel want “the repeal of the double conscience clause”

The rebellious MP and the environmentalist senator believe that it is an insidious threat to abortion by weighing on its accessibility. The government, however, guaranteed that it would not touch it.


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The rebellious Mathilde Panot (D) and the ecologist Mélanie Vogel (G), on France Inter, March 4, 2024. (FRANCEINTER / RADIO FRANCE)

Voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) is not yet enshrined in the Constitution, but the Insoumise Mathilde Panot and the ecologist Mélanie Vogel are already thinking about the future. “We demand the repeal of the double conscience clause”, declares the leader of the La France insoumise deputies on France Inter. IVG “is the only medical procedure that benefits from this treatment and it is not normal”, adds the senator. In addition to their fight to defend abortion, the two parliamentarians have in common the fact that they have each submitted a bill to constitutionalize it, which must result this Monday with the vote of Congress.

In France, doctors have a general conscience clause, of a regulatory nature, which allows them to refuse to perform a medical procedure, for professional or personal reasons, except in cases of vital emergency. By legalizing abortion in 1975, the Veil law also established a specific right not to practice it. This specific conscience clause applies to doctors, midwives but also to personnel who participate in the act, such as nurses. In both cases, doctors must immediately inform their patient and refer them to a medical team as competent as them in the matter.

The Italian example

With this “double conscience clause”Mathilde Panot points out the risk of “getting to the situation in Italy” Or “75% of professionals no longer perform abortions”. In 2020, 64.6% of Italian doctors refused to perform abortions, according to the most recent data from the country’s Health Ministry. In this situation, “the right to abortion still exists, but its effectiveness is no longer guaranteed”points out the member for Val-de-Marne. “I hope that the historic victory that we will achieve today [ce lundi] will lead to other victories”she adds.

However, it appears unlikely that Mathilde Panot and Mélanie Vogel will win their case on this “double conscience clause”. “We defend it”, underlines Les Républicains senator Agnès Canayer, interviewed alongside them on France Inter. “The government is committed to ensuring that this conscience clause is not called into question and we [la droite] we will take care of it”insists the Senate rapporteur of the bill to include abortion in the Constitution.

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