On Tuesday, France’s leading gynaecologist union, the Syngof, threatened to stop performing abortions unless its demands were met.

Written by board member Jean Marty, the leaked email has incensed institutions and the wider public.

France’s General Medical Council denounced the threat as “totally contrary to medical deontology.” Agnès Buzyn, Solidarity and Health minister, excoriated the “hostage-taking of women” for leverage or media attention.

The Syngof wants better insurance; currently, it covers legal damages up to 6€ million. But between 2002 and 2012, fifteen Syngof members were condemned for gross medical malpractice, with some fined up to 12€ million.

Marty claims he chose abortion precisely to scandalise society—elevating a cause otherwise deemed “too technical to interest the press”. And the Syngof has since back-pedalled, insisting its syndicated gynaecologists will continue to perform abortions.

The union already caused controversy in September 2018, when president Bertrand De Rochambeau declared “We are not here to end lives,” and argued abortions constituted homicide.

Does focusing the strike threat onto this one, particularly hard-won right amount to deontological abuse?

Countries like Canada, Britain, and the US forbid “essential service” providers from striking. So what is an acceptable bargaining chip in collective negotiations?

     

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.