French lawmakers vote to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution

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French lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill to enshrine the right to abortion in the French Constitution, the first step in a complex legislative process that began in direct response to the Supreme Court’s ruling. United States of overturn Roe v. Wade.

The bill, proposed by President Emmanuel Macron and his government, was adopted by the National Assembly, the lower and most powerful house of the French Parliament, with 493 votes in favor and 30 against. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal called the vote is a “great victory”.

Unlike in the United States, most French political parties broadly support the right to abortion, which was legalized in 1975, and its legality suffers no immediate or serious threat. Including this right in the Constitution would not change the availability of abortion in France, where both residents and foreigners can terminate their pregnancies.

But the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, overturning constitutional right to abortion sound the alarm in Europe and galvanized efforts in France to protect this right as inalienable. Activists have also argued that the right to abortion is increasingly under threat in European countries like Poland and Italy, which makes it all the more urgent to include it in France in case future governments try to roll it back.

“If today this freedom is neither directly threatened nor called into question in our country, except by a very small minority of opinions, this is not the case in other countries. » the bills states of the introductory text.

He explicitly cites the US court action which overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years.

“Unfortunately, this event is not isolated: in many countries, even in Europe, there are currents which seek to hinder the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancies if they wish,” he adds.

Mathilde Panot, a leading MP from the left-wing La France Insoumise party, said the bill was “revenge for the shame, secrecy, silence, suffering and death faced by hundreds of thousands of women had to face.”

If the proposal comes to fruition, it would add a new line to the French Constitution stipulating that “the law determines the conditions under which the freedom guaranteed to a woman to voluntarily terminate her pregnancy is exercised.”

The bill now goes to the Senate — controlled by right-wing lawmakers who are uncomfortable with the proposal’s wording — which must approve the measure before the Constitution can be amended. The Senate is expected to begin discussing the bill in late February.

Eric Dupond-Moretti, France’s justice minister, said Tuesday he would try to convince the Senate with “determination and humility” that the bill was necessary. Planned Parenthood, the French equivalent of Planned Parenthood, welcomed a “historic vote” in a “historic battle for feminists”.

“Senators, we are now counting on you! the organization said on social networks.

Even if the Senate approves the bill, both chambers must agree on exactly the same version of the proposal for the bill to move forward. It would then have to be approved either by three-fifths of French deputies from both chambers meeting for an extraordinary session, or by a popular referendum, the results of which could be unpredictable. Mr. Macron’s government favors the first option.

Lower House of France approved a version of the amendment in 2022, but the Senate changed it significantly and the differences were not resolved, so the bill died. While the lower house wanted to enshrine a “right”, the Senate was in favor of only enshrining a “freedom” for abortion.

The government then came under pressure to present its own bill, which Mr Macron approved. Last year.



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