From PAUL MAJENDIE in PARIS The French Senate has approved by 182 to 91 a controversial draft law making abortion on demand available during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
It was the last serious hurdle for legalised abortion in this predominantly Catholic country, though minor amendments forced the Bill before the National Assembly and again to the Senate.
The three-day Senate debate was much calmer than the highly charged one hi the Assembly two weeks earlier. Then Mme Simone Veil, the Health Minister — herself a one-time concentration camp initiate — was accused of introducing Nazi-style euthanasia in France.
Among the Senate amendments was one making it compulsory for a woman to consult a social worker before having an abortion. Another barred clinics and hospitals
from performing abortions exclusively — only one in four operations can be abortions.
The Senate vote reflected public opinion on the muchdiscussed Bill. An opinion poll showed almost 60 per cent of the public in favour of abortion on demand in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Under the draft law the operation must be carried out in an approved clinic or hospital. Girls under 18 must obtain parental permission.
The cost will not he reimbursed under the State social security system, but the Government has set a limit on charges.
Mme Veil, a 47-year-old mother of three, said: "This law takes account of reality. The facts are that 300,000 Frenchwomen who are neither ignorant nor immoral have abortions every year."
Under the previous law abortion was allowed only if the mother's life was in danger.