France becomes first country in the world to make abortion a constitutional right


Tuesday, March 05, 2024
 – French lawmakers have approved the bill to make abortion a constitutional right for women in the country.

The bill was approved in an overwhelming 780-72 vote on Monday, and nearly the entire joint session stood in a long-standing ovation.

There were jubilant scenes of celebrations all over France as women’s rights activists hailed the measure promised by President Emmanuel Macron following a rollback of abortion rights in court rulings in the United States.

Both houses of parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, have already adopted a bill to amend Article 34 of the French Constitution to specify a woman’s right to an abortion is guaranteed.

In the lead-up to the historic vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal addressed the 925 lawmakers gathered for the joint session in Versailles and called on them to make France a leader in women’s rights and set an example in defense of women’s rights for countries around the world.

“We have a moral debt to women,” Attal said. He paid tribute to Simone Veil, a prominent legislator, former health minister and key feminist who in 1975 championed the bill that decriminalized abortion in France.

“We have a chance to change history,” Attal said in a moving and determined speech. “Make Simone Veil proud,” he said to a standing ovation.

The lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, overwhelmingly approved the proposal in January. The Senate adopted the bill on Wednesday, clearing a key hurdle for legislation promised by Macron’s government, intended to make “a woman’s right to have an abortion irreversible.”

The measure must be approved by a three-fifths majority in the joint session.

None of France’s major political parties represented in parliament have questioned the right to abortion, including Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party and the conservative Republicans. However, some lawmakers have voted against inscribing abortion right into the constitution in previous votes in both houses.

Le Pen, who won a record number of seats in the National Assembly two years ago, said on Monday that her party will vote in favor of the bill but added that “there is no need to make this a historic day.”

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