In a first, France makes abortion a constitutional right

Connie Queline

In a first, France makes abortion a constitutional right

France on Monday enshrined the right to abortion in its constitution, a world first welcomed by women’s rights groups as historic and harshly criticised by anti-abortion groups. Abortion rights are more widely accepted in France than in the US and many other countries, with polls showing around 80% of French people back the fact that abortion is legal. With the vote, France became the first country in the world to explicitly write access to abortion into its Constitution, according to five constitutional experts.
“We’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you,” PM Gabriel Attal told MPs and senators gathered in congress for a special vote under the gilded ceilings of the Versailles Palace, just outside Paris. Women have had a legal right to abortion in France since a 1974 law – which many harshly criticised at the time.
But the US SC’s 2022 decision to reverse the Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised women’s constitutional right to abortion prompted activists to push France to become the first country to explicitly protect the right in its basic law.
The amendment declares abortion to be a “guaranteed freedom,” overseen by parliament’s laws. That means future govts will not be able to “drastically modify” the current laws funding abortion for women who seek it, up to 14 weeks into their pregnancies, according to the French justice minister, Eric Dupond-Moretti.
“France is at the forefront,” said the head of the lower house of parliament, Yael Braun-Pivet, from French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party. But the move was not exempt from criticism. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Macron was using it to score political points, because of the large support for the right to abortion in the country.
(Reuters & NYT story)
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