France plans to make abortion ‘constitutional right’

France is poised to embed the right to abortion as a constitutional guarantee after the Senate voted in favor of the move. The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to establish the “guaranteed freedom” of women to choose abortion, emphasizing the need for full constitutional protection as abortion rights face challenges in the United States and certain European countries.

The decision comes in response to concerns arising from the 2022 US Supreme Court decision that overturned a longstanding ruling supporting abortion rights. French lawmakers argue that similar threats to abortion rights exist in Europe, citing developments in countries such as Hungary, Poland, Italy, and Spain. This move is seen as a proactive step to secure and fortify the legal foundation for abortion rights in France.

Following a robust debate in the Senate, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stated that when women’s rights are under threat globally, France takes a stand at the forefront of progress. Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti hailed the vote as historic, emphasizing the affirmation of women’s freedom in the country.

Green Senator Mélanie Vogel, who advocated for the constitutional change, described the decision as a historic feminist victory. Communist Senator Ian Brossat labeled it a victory for women worldwide. The proposed amendment is expected to gain the necessary three-fifths majority in a joint parliamentary session scheduled for Monday.

President Emmanuel Macron, expressing his commitment to making women’s freedom to choose abortion “irreversible,” sees the constitutional inscription as a means of safeguarding the 1975 law that decriminalized abortion in France.

Lawmakers voiced concerns about the increasing influence of anti-abortion movements in France, citing attacks on family planning centers, the placement of anti-abortion stickers on rental bikes in Paris, and controversial statements on TV channels. The move to protect the freedom of choice through constitutional means is seen as a response to these perceived threats and a broader commitment to women’s rights.

In a related development in 2022, the French parliament extended the legal limit for terminating pregnancies from 12 to 14 weeks, addressing concerns about French women having to travel abroad for abortions.

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