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France – Maternity and Giving Birth

France is known for its world-class healthcare system, and the same holds true for maternal and newborn care. In this article, we’ll explore the most common options for giving birth in France, the process for registering a birth, and the attitudes and legislation surrounding abortion.

Giving Birth in France

In France, the vast majority of births occur in hospitals, with less than 2% of births occurring outside of a medical facility. Midwives attend many of these births, with over 80% of all births in France being assisted by midwives.

Pregnant women in France have access to a range of prenatal services, including routine checkups with obstetricians or midwives, ultrasounds, and prenatal classes. These services are covered by the French healthcare system and are available to all pregnant women, regardless of their income or insurance status.

Registering a Birth in France

Registering a birth in France is a straightforward process. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Within three days of the birth, the person who attended the birth (either a midwife, doctor, or hospital) will provide you with a medical certificate of birth.
  2. You’ll need to take this certificate, along with several other documents, to the town hall in the district where the birth took place.
  3. The required documents include the parents’ identification documents (passport or national identity card), the parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable), and proof of address.
  4. At the town hall, you’ll fill out a declaration of birth form and provide the necessary documents. The town hall will then register the birth and issue a birth certificate.

It’s important to note that if you’re not a French citizen, you’ll need to follow additional steps to register the birth with your home country’s consulate.

Attitudes and Legislation Surrounding Abortion in France

Abortion has been legal in France since 1975, and it’s considered a fundamental right for women. French law allows for abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to 14 weeks if there is a risk to the woman’s health or if the fetus has a severe abnormality.


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After 12 or 14 weeks, abortion is only allowed if the woman’s life is in danger or if there is a serious fetal abnormality. In these cases, the decision to terminate the pregnancy must be approved by two doctors.

Abortion services are available throughout France, and the procedure is covered by the national health insurance system. Women seeking an abortion are required to undergo counseling before the procedure, but this is not intended to dissuade them from seeking an abortion.

In recent years, there has been some controversy surrounding the availability of abortion services in certain regions of France, with some clinics and hospitals refusing to provide the procedure based on religious or moral objections. However, the French government has taken steps to ensure that all women have access to abortion services, regardless of where they live.

In summary, giving birth in France typically occurs in a hospital setting with the assistance of midwives. Pregnant women have access to a range of prenatal services, and registering a birth is a straightforward process. Abortion is legal and widely available throughout France, with some restrictions after 12 or 14 weeks of pregnancy. Overall, France is a country with a strong commitment to maternal and newborn health, and women can expect high-quality care during their pregnancy and childbirth.


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