France Makes Abortion a Constitutional Right

by State Brief

France will add the right to an abortion to its constitution. 

The country’s parliament voted 780-72 in favor of the revision on March 4, creating the 25th Amendment. The last time the constitution was amended was in 2008.

“We’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you,” said Prime Minister Gabriel Attal while addressing French legislators. 

Abortion access is widely supported in France with polls indicating that as many as 80% of citizens approve of the procedure, according to Global News

Pro-abortion activists celebrated the news which they felt protects women from a potential international shift in cultural attitudes towards abortion. 

“This right (to abortion) has retreated in the United States. And so nothing authorized us to think that France was exempt from this risk,” Laura Slimani, a member of the Fondation des Femmes rights group, told Global News before the vote. 

“There’s a lot of emotion, as a feminist activist, also as a woman,” she added. “And there’s a lot solemnity in a certain way, since we’re going to live through a historic moment, I hope.”

Abortion was legalized in France in 1975 –  two years after the United States Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. America’s highest court overturned that precedent in June of 2022.

None of France’s major political parties represented in parliament have questioned the right to abortion, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party and the conservative Republicans,” reports Fox News

Agnès Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, called the parliamentary vote “historic,” said it made “France the first country ever to enshrine abortion in its constitution,” and “is of huge significance given the rollback of this essential right around the world.”

In a press release, Callamard said:

Protecting the freedom to access an abortion provides an important bulwark against these increasingly vociferous anti-rights movements.

The United States has shown how devastatingly, dangerous and retrogressive it is to undermine abortion as a right. In Europe, there are still countries such as Poland and Andorra, where access to abortion is highly restricted and where those fighting for this right face prosecution. Today’s vote in France should pave the way for stronger protection of access to abortion elsewhere.

Enshrining abortion in the constitution is a high-water mark for women’s rights and a testament to years of tireless campaigning by so many.
Opponents of the constitutional revision, including Catholic organizations, mourned the results of the vote. They argued lawmakers were borrowing trouble from America instead of focusing on the values of their own nation.

“We imported a debate that is not French, since the United States was first to remove that from law with the repeal of Roe v. Wade,” said Pascale Moriniere, the president of the Association of Catholic Families, per Reuters. “There was an effect of panic from feminist movements, which wished to engrave this on the marble of the constitution.”

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