By Sam Blanchard Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 10:40 GMT, 15 March 2019 | Updated: 12:03 GMT, 15 March 2019
French doctors have been accused of taking women hostage after they threatened to stop performing abortions in a protest against the government.
The Syngof gynaecologists' union said in an email to its 1,600 members they should 'be ready to stop carrying out terminations to make ourselves heard'.
The union is angry because, it claims, its members are being denied insurance coverage by the government because its fund is 'too fragile' to support them.
The country's health minister, Agnès Buzyn, said: 'In no case should taking women hostage in this way be used as a lever for negotiations.’
And she added the union's threat was out of keeping with France's 'unconditional respect for the right to abortion'.
Medical council the French Order of Doctors also condemned the move and France's equality minister, Marléne Schiappa called it 'unacceptable blackmail'.
France's health minister Agnés Buzyn has accused the Syngof gynaecologists' union of 'taking women hostage' over its demands to be heard on insurance for its members
Syngof – the Syndicat National des Gynécologues et Obstétriciens de France – said medics are working in fear of 'ruin' because the government's insurance fund won't cover them if they're sued.
The government claims a state-run medical insurance scheme is 'too fragile' to support them. Syngof said this means gynaecologists, anaesthetists and surgeons in the field have been 'denied' coverage for years.
Jean Marty, a board member and former president of the union, made the controversial remarks in an email sent to around 2,000 Syngof members.
There was backlash against Mr Marty after the email was leaked on social media. But he later said the controversy was deliberate and they would carry on performing abortions.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, he said: 'I'm sorry to have to pose