Monaco is to de-penalise abortion in the next few months, the government of the principality announced on Monday in a press release.
However, the move applies only to pregnant women and not doctors, thus obliging women to travel abroad for voluntary termination of pregnancy.
On 2 August, the government sent the de-penalization bill to the National Council, Monaco’s single-chamber parliament, for inclusion on the agenda of its next legislative session. The bill mirrors almost entirely a draft law approved on 12 June by the Council. According to a government spokesperson, the vote on the Government’s bill could be held in the next few months.
Thus far, abortion is only authorised in the event of high-risk pregnancies, rape and irreversible pathologies of the foetus, under a law adopted in 2009, which already marked a first advance. With the new bill, women who terminate their pregnancies before the end of the 12th week no longer risk prosecution. Previously they faced prison terms ranging from six months to three years, and fines of 9,000 to 18,000 euros.
However, de-penalisation does not mean legalisation. The bill maintains sanctions ranging from five to 10 years in prison for any health professional carrying out an involuntary interruption of pregnancy. Still, the bill does authorise health professionals to advise or direct their patients towards a colleague abroad.
According to Monaco’s government, it “provides for an appropriate response to the distress of the pregnant woman, who would no longer be condemned but heard and accompanied, while preserving values as fundamental as the right to life of the unborn child and the principles of the State religion.”
“Abortion can be registered in the medical file, which is important,” a government spokeswoman said.
Under Monaco’s constitution, the apostolic Roman Catholic religion is the State religion, a fact which has long constituted a brake to any liberalisation of abortion in the principality.