France enshrines abortion in its constitution

Aprilia Rine

France enshrines abortion in its constitution
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Lawmakers in Paris have voted overwhelmingly to ratify the right to terminate a pregnancy

France has responded to the rollback of abortion rights in the US by becoming the first nation in the world to constitutionally guarantee that its women can terminate their pregnancies.

Lawmakers voted in a joint session of both parliamentary houses on Monday to approve the constitutional amendment by a margin of 780-72. The landslide approval followed through on President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge last year to make the right to abortion in France “irreversible,” protecting against the sort of restrictive measures that have been imposed in some US states.

Members of the French parliament gave a long standing ovation after passage of the amendment was announced. Macron said the constitutional revision will be inscribed on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day during a ceremony in Paris. The amendment to Article 34 will enshrine “a woman’s guaranteed freedom to have recourse to an abortion.”

“Let us celebrate together the entry of a new freedom guaranteed in the Constitution by the first sealing ceremony in our history open to the public,” Macron said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). He called Monday’s vote a matter of “French pride” and a “universal message.”

The right to abortion was legally recognized in the US as constitutionally protected for 50 years under the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. However, the US Supreme Court overturned that decision in June 2022, enabling legislatures in individual states to impose restrictions on terminating pregnancies. More than 20 US states have banned abortion or limited access to the procedure.

Abortion has been legal in France since 1974, allowing termination of pregnancies within 14 weeks of conception. Polling indicated that 80% of French adults supported the constitutional amendment.

READ MORE: Study reveals how overturning Roe v Wade affected US births

Before Monday’s vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal urged lawmakers to approve the revision. “We owe a moral debt to women,” he said, adding that passage of the law would be a “victory for women’s rights.” He cheered the vote in a social media post, saying, “Today, France sent a historic message to the whole world: Women’s bodies belong to them, and no one has the right to dispose of them in their place.”

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