Thousands take part in Paris anti-abortion march

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Thousands of people demonstrated against abortion in a “march for life” in Paris on Sunday.

Police figures state around 16,000 protesters took part, while organisers claim the figure was closer to 40,000.

The rally came on the eve of a parliamentary debate about making pregnancy terminations more accessible.

Many carried Spanish flags and wore red scarves in solidarity with their neighbouring country, which is considering restricting access to abortion.

Under pressure from the Catholic Church, the Spanish government agreed to draft a bill that would ban abortions, with the exception of rape cases or instances where there is a threat to the mother’s health.

Luis Peral, a Spanish senator who is for tighter restrictions on pregnancy terminations, was at the march in Paris.

“We’re going to follow Poland’s example,” he said. “Soon, we’ll have tighter abortion restrictions, once the law is approved. I’m sure other European countries will also modify their legislation to support pregnant mothers and to defend the rights and dignity of the child.”

Another demonstrator spoke about the stigma surrounding abortion.

“Women who undergo abortion don’t always feel they have the choice,” she said. “They often feel very alone, or pushed, and afterwards they say “if only I’d known,” and they cry.”

Abortion up until the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy has been legal in France since 1975.

France records approximately 220,000 abortions per year, with an estimated one in every three French women undergoing the procedure at least once.

A year ago, the law was amended to allow abortions to be reimbursed under the state health system.

In the proposed bill, President François Hollande’s government would remove a requirement for women to prove they are “in distress.”

It would also punish people who try to prevent women from entering places where she could receive free abortion advice.