France Set To Make Abortion Constitutional Right

French lawmakers are expected on Monday to approve constitutional reforms protecting the right to abortion, making France the first country to enshrine such rights in its founding charter explicitly.

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The combined National Assembly and Senate are holding an extraordinary session in Versailles seeking the needed three-fifths majority to add abortion as a “guaranteed freedom” to the constitution. This final vote comes after both parliamentary chambers passed the amendment by large margins.

The reform was introduced by President Emmanuel Macron last year in response to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022, which allowed American states to ban or severely limit abortion access.

Though legal in France since 1975, Macron contended that constitutional safeguards were still necessary to protect against future threats to reproductive rights. Most French voters support the move to solidify this right further.

The amendment’s success marks a long journey for French abortion-rights campaigners. When political advocacy started in 1971, enshrining such rights constitutionally “could never have been imagined,” said Claudine Monteil of the Femmes Monde women’s group.

Yet the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent actions “woke us up,” Monteil added, showing even settled rights remained vulnerable.

Along with cementing abortion access in France, the reform also carries domestic political implications. It allows Macron to showcase his progressive credentials while pressuring the resurgent far-right, which officially supports abortion rights but remains divided on the issue.

The constitutional entrenchment of reproductive rights in France could also spark similar efforts globally. Most of the E.U. allows abortion, though restrictions are increasing in countries like Hungary and Poland.

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