BREAKING: France Set To Make Abortion Constitutional Right

Filed in News by on March 5, 2024 0 Comments

French lawmakers are expected on Monday to anchor the right to abortion in the country’s constitution, a world first that has garnered overwhelming public support.

A congress of both houses of parliament, which gathered in Versailles, should find the three-fifths majority needed for the change after it overcame initial resistance in the right-leaning Senate.

If the congress approves the move, France will become the first country in the world to clearly protect the right to terminate a pregnancy in its basic law.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal urged lawmakers to make history, saying the freedom to abort remained “in danger”.

“Our freedoms are in essence threatened… at the mercy of decision makers,” he said.

“In one generation, one year, one week, you can go from one thing to the opposite,” he added, referring to rights reversals in the United States, Hungary and Poland.

President Emmanuel Macron pledged last year to enshrine abortion — legal in France since 1975 — in the constitution after the United States Supreme Court in 2022 overturned the half-century-old right to the procedure, allowing individual American states to ban or curtail it.

In January France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, overwhelmingly approved making abortion a “guaranteed freedom” in the constitution.

The upper house, the Senate, followed suit on Wednesday.

The bill is now expected to clear the final hurdle of a combined vote of both chambers at a rare joint session at the former royal residence of the Palace of Versailles.

Few expect any difficulty finding the needed supermajority after the three-fifths mark was largely exceeded in both previous ballots.

When political campaigning began in earnest in 1971, “we could never have imagined that the right to abortion would one day be written into the constitution”, Claudine Monteil, head of the Femmes Monde (Women in the World) association, told AFP.

Monteil was the youngest signatory to the “Manifesto of the 343”, a 1971 petition that 343 women signed, admitting to having illegally terminated a pregnancy.

At the time, an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 women aborted each year.

Abortion was legalised in France in a law championed by health minister Simone Veil, a women’s rights icon granted the rare honour of burial at the Pantheon after her death in 2018.

Leah Hoctor, of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said France could offer “the first explicit broad constitutional provision of its kind, not just in Europe, but also globally”.

Chile included the right to elective abortion in a draft for a new progressive constitution in 2022 but voters rejected the text in a referendum.

Some countries allude to the right.

Cuba’s constitution guarantees women’s “reproductive and sexual rights”.

And several Balkan states have inherited versions of former Yugoslavia’s 1974 constitution that said it was a human right to “decide on the birth of children”.

Other states explicitly mention abortion in their constitution but only allow it in specific circumstances, Hoctor said.

A majority of the French public support the move to give the right to abortion extra protection, according to polls.

A November 2022 survey by French polling group IFOP found that 86 percent of French people supported inscribing it in the constitution.

Left-wing and centrist politicians have welcomed the change, while right-wing senators have said in private they felt under pressure to give it a green light.

Abortion opponents, largely marginalised in the move for constitutional change, protested in Versailles.

Catholic bishops called for a day of “fasting and prayer” so the French could “rediscover the taste for life”.

Weighing in from Rome, the Vatican said there could be “no ‘right’ to take a human life”.

Macron on Wednesday hailed what he called the Senate’s “decisive step” and immediately called the parliamentary congress.

The last time one was called to change the constitution was in 2008, when lawmakers only just approved wide-sweeping reforms under former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Those changes included limiting presidents to two terms in office, as well as better safeguards for press independence and freedom.

We believe this informative article was helpful to you. If yes, please don’t hesitate to share this information with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other Social Media Platforms.

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *