January 27, 2014 — The French National Assembly's recent approval "of an amendment that frees women seeking an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy from having to justify their decision is a refreshing step forward for reproductive rights," a New York Times editorial states.
Specifically, the amendment removes "language from a 1975 law that gave women the right to an abortion within 12 weeks if the pregnancy caused 'distress,'" the editorial explains.
According to the Times, the amendment is part of a larger "gender-equality bill that is the most comprehensive legislation on women's rights" in the country's history. The gender-equality bill would strengthen domestic violence laws, promote workplace and wage equality, offer new paid parental leave options and expand support for unmarried mothers, among other provisions. The bill "puts France at the forefront of efforts to address persistent discrimination against women," the editorial argues.
It concludes, "Given threats to women's rights elsewhere in Europe and the world -- including access to legal abortion -- lawmakers' commitment to back pieties about equality with strong legislation is a welcome example of what governments can do to support equal rights and equal opportunities for women" (New York Times, 1/24).