“There are already practitioners who do not perform abortions until the term currently provided for by law”

Claire Wolker is an orthogenist midwife and member of the board of directors of the National Association of Abortion and Contraception Centers, which brings together professionals working in the planning and voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) centers. As such, she defends the bill in favor of extending the abortion period from twelve to fourteen weeks, which will be discussed in the National Assembly until December 3.

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It is estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 women go abroad each year for a voluntary termination of pregnancy because they find themselves outside the legal deadlines. What is the profile of these women, and how to explain that they do not manage to abort on time?

There is no typical profile, these figures cover various situations. For some, they are women in vulnerable and precarious situations. Some are far from the care pathways. It should be remembered that one in four abortions takes place in a context of violence, it is an important concept to take into account in order to understand these situations.

It may also seem surprising, but it is not always so easy for women to know that they are pregnant. Some people can have very irregular cycles and not know they are pregnant quickly, or even have their period despite the pregnancy. On the other hand, between 50 and 60% of abortions are done under contraception: contraception does not protect 100%. Pregnancies under the IUD, on the pill, it happens; just yesterday, I received a woman wearing an IUD and who finds herself pregnant. However, when you have contraception, you are less on the alert, which explains why you discover the pregnancy later.

Many doctors are opposed to the extension of the deadlines on the grounds that it is not the same medical gesture at twelve and fourteen weeks of pregnancy. They say they will not perform late abortions if the measure passes, and point to the risks to women’s health. What do you think ?

There are already practitioners who do not perform abortions until the term currently provided for by law. They decide that they do not perform abortion beyond a certain term. They are reluctance of the same order, it seems to me. They will obviously be even more reluctant if the extension of the deadlines from twelve to fourteen weeks is voted.

The gesture is not quite the same between a very early pregnancy and a later pregnancy: beyond nine weeks, we are in an instrumental abortion. But there isn’t a big difference between twelve and fourteen weeks. As for the method, for anything that is a little new, it is customary for practitioners to be trained. Especially Spanish and Dutch practitioners are already doing this.

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