To win the case in the dispute over the issue of the guarantee fund, the National Union of Obstetric Gynecologists of France (Syngof) threat in an internal mail to practice the "strike" of abortions. According to the Minister of Health, the "unacceptable" statements once again put at risk the right of women to dispose of their bodies.
Will women wishing to end an unwanted pregnancy see their request for abortion lost because their doctor goes on strike?
This is the threat posed by the National Union of Obstetric Gynecologists of France in an internal mail sent to all its members on Tuesday, March 12, and whose content was unveiled publicly the next day. In this message, its author Jean Marty, former president of Syngof and still a member of the Board of Directors of the union, calls the 1,600 or so members of the organization to prepare for an "abortion strike" if the Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn does not accept to receive it to negotiate the ceiling of the guarantees of a professional insurance.
@MagnesiumSchiappa- Ann (@Marianntoinette) March 12, 2019
Fault of hindrance to the abortion, threat of blackmail envisaged and planned that day by the 1st union of the gynecologists-obstetricians
Spin, mobilize to destroy this hostile union whose women are the last concern pic.twitter.com/rA94b2JD7i
A hostage taking of women's bodies
As soon as it was published on social networks, Jean Marty's e-mail provoked an outcry from feminist and patient rights groups, who accused him of posing a new threat to the right to abortion and to take the women's bodies hostage.
The National Council of the College of Midwives firmly condemns the threats of appeal to the "abortion strike" launched by Syngof: //t.co/7F9JHLmVy6 pic.twitter.com/J2p9xwPmmv- Midwifery Order (@CNOSF) March 14, 2019
SYNGOF, a union of gynecologists, threatens to deprive women of their right to access abortion. What does "order_ doctors" do? This is blackmail care, is not it completely unethical ?! //t.co/MQbJ9YtyIT- Collectif Ciane (@CollectifCIANE) March 12, 2019
@SYNGOF threatens to strike the abortion. They could have gone on strike smear, no ... strike abortion ... By the very trade union of @BdeRochambeau who qualifies the abortion of homicide! It is an offense of hindrance to abortion, contrary to any medical ethics @order_doctors pic.twitter.com/zG1lzNEf5M- Dare feminism! (@thefeminism) March 13, 2019
Contacted by France Info, the Syngof initially confirms the authenticity of the message and ensures that weighing such a threat was the only way to make its claims heard. "If we do not make threats that worry society, we are not heard, I personally have no problem with abortion, it is our activity, I hope the threat does not apply, but 'There is nothing in the law, we will do it,' Tuesday assured Jean Marty at the news site.
What the law says ?
But the maneuver of the National Union of Obstetric Gynecologists of France to win the case is it legal?
If the law Veil of January 15, 1975 has legalized the termination of pregnancy, gynecologists wishing to "strike" abortions can invoke the "conscience clause". Under Articles L. 2 123-1, L. 2 212-8, and R. 4 127-18 of the Public Health Code, any doctor may in fact invoke his conscience clause and thus refuse to practice an abortion or sterilization for contraceptive purposes.
However, says a document of the Ministry of Health quoted by The Parisian, "he then has the obligation to inform without delay the person concerned of his decision and to reorient the patient (or the patient) towards other practitioners".
"Except in cases of emergency and one where he would fail in his duties of humanity, a doctor has the right to refuse his care for professional or personal reasons," says the Code of Public Health. It is therefore not a crime of obstruction of abortion, punishable by 2 years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros, which penalizes the fact of preventing or attempting to prevent an abortion in disrupting access to institutions, or by threatening staff or affected women.
"An inexplicable and unjustifiable act"
Asked about what Syngof said, Health Minister Agnès Buzyn denounced the "inadmissibility of these threats (...) that go against the unconditional respect of the right to abortion".
For its part, the National Council of the Medical Association has also "strongly" condemned the words of the Syngof and said that the strike of abortions was in "clear violation of the ethical obligations" of doctors. "It would be an inexplicable and unjustifiable act, with potentially dramatic consequences," writes the National Council in a statement that considers it "premature" to mention sanctions.
For their part, feminist activists have decided to respond to what they see as a threat to women's rights. On Twitter, the member of the feminist associations Nous Tous and The Group F Anaïs Leleux appealed to the organization to impose sanctions against Syngof. Thursday afternoon, more than 5,000 emails were sent to the National Council of the Order.
?? Ok people. It's time for the College of Physicians to put the Syndicat des gynécos du mal out of harm's way #IVG- Anaïs Leleux (@AnaisLeleux) March 13, 2019
?? Fill out this typeform and a nice letter will be sent to you for the CN president of the order. //t.co/lU9NJdfdCB //t.co/f5SRsOsAMW
As a reminder, the Syngof had already created the controversy in September 2018 when its president, Dr. Bertrand de Rochambeau, had indicated in the Quotidien show that he refused to practice abortions, he likened to "a homicide". "We are not here to take lives," he said.