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France Enshrines Abortion as a Constitutional Right, Leading Global Precedent



Women’s rights organizations hailed France’s historic decision to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution on Monday, while anti-abortion groups sharply denounced the move.

In a rare joint vote of the two houses of parliament held under the gilded ceilings of Versailles Palace, just outside of Paris, senators and members of parliament overwhelmingly supported the measure, voting 780 votes to 72.

A massive screen presented the results of the referendum, and as the Eiffel Tower blinked in the backdrop, abortion rights supporters assembled in central Paris cheered and applauded. The statement “MyBodyMyChoice” was flashed.

In France, as in many other countries, abortion rights are increasingly commonly accepted. According to polls, almost 80% of French people support the legalization of abortion.

Before the vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told MPs, “We’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you.”

Since a law passed in 1974, which was strongly criticized at the time, women in France have been legally allowed to undergo abortions.

However, after the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2022 to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, which recognized women’s constitutional right to an abortion, activists pushed for France to become the first nation to expressly guarantee the right in its fundamental legislation.

“In the US, the right to an abortion has receded. Therefore, nothing gave us the right to believe that France was immune to this danger,” said Laura Slimani of the rights organization Fondation des Femmes.

“There’s a lot of emotion, as a feminist activist, also as a woman,” Slimani stated.

The French constitution’s Article 34, which states that “the law determines the conditions in which a woman has the guaranteed freedom to have recourse to an abortion,” was solidified on Monday.

“France is at the forefront,” stated Yael Braun-Pivet, the leader of the lower chamber of parliament and a member of the centrist party of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Abortion Rights

However, the decision did not come without criticism.

The far-right politician Marine Le Pen claimed that because the country has a strong majority in favor of abortion rights, Macron was exploiting it as a political football.

Before the Versailles vote, Le Pen told reporters, “We will vote to include it in the Constitution because we have no problem with that.” She also argued that calling it a historic move was overly dramatic because “no one is putting the right to abortion at risk in France.”

Campaigners against abortion saw this as a setback, according to Association of Catholic Families head Pascale Moriniere.

“It’s (also) a defeat for women,” she continued, “and, of course, for all the children who cannot see the day.”

According to Moriniere, the right to an abortion does not need to be protected by the constitution.

“We imported a debate that is not French, since the United States was first to remove that from law with the repeal of Roe v. Wade,” she stated. “There was an effect of panic from feminist movements, which wished to engrave this on the marble of the constitution.”

(This news report is from a syndicated feed. THND team members did not write or edit the content except for the headline.)



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