France makes abortion a constitutional right, becomes first country to do so


PARIS: France became the first nation in the world to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution on Monday, according to CNN.

The proposal was approved by lawmakers in both chambers of the French Parliament, with a vote of 780 to 72 in favour, meeting the necessary three-fifths majority to change the French constitution.

Notably, after the US Supreme Court in 2022 reversed the Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised women’s constitutional right to abortion, a campaign was started in France to explicitly protect the right in its basic law.

The last stage of the parliamentary procedure was the voting on Monday, which took place at the Palace of Versailles, southwest of Paris, during a special assembly of legislators.

The legislation was overwhelmingly passed earlier this year by the French National Assembly and Senate.

According to the amendment, abortion is a “guaranteed freedom” in France.

Legislators and certain groups had pushed for tougher wording that would clearly designate abortion as a “right.”

Hailed by lawmakers as a historic step, the measure demonstrated France’s unwavering support for reproductive rights at a time when abortion rights are under attack in the US and in regions of Europe like Hungary where far-right parties are gaining ground, according to CNN.

“My body, my choice” was illuminated on the Eiffel Tower after the results of the vote.

Before the vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stated that MPs owed women who had previously been compelled to undergo illegal abortions a “moral debt.”

“Above all, we’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you,” Attal said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the government would hold a formal ceremony celebrating the amendment’s passage on Friday, International Women’s Rights Day, CNN reported.

France first legalized abortion in 1975, after a campaign led by then-Health Minister Simone Veil, an Auschwitz survivor who became one of the country’s most famous feminist icons.

According to CNN, while abortion is a highly divisive issue in US politics that often falls along party lines, in France it is widely supported. Many of the lawmakers who voted against the amendment did so not because they opposed abortion, but because they felt the measure was unnecessary, given the wide support for reproductive rights. (ANI)

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