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Abortion rights in France to be added to Constitution

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French President Emmanuel Macron introduced draft legislation to protect abortion rights last year.
abortion rights in france

Abortion rights in France are set for a major boost, after the country’s Parliament voted to make it a “guaranteed freedom” in the country’s constitution.

French President Emmanuel Macron introduced draft legislation to protect abortion rights last year.

The proposal has since received support from both houses of Parliament, meaning it will be enshrined in the Constitution.

Macron said he’s committed to ensuring women have “irreversible” access to abortion care.

Abortion rights in France

France first legalised abortion in 1975. These laws have been expanded to ensure the procedure is widely accessible and affordable.

Currently, women can access an abortion up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy. The cost of these terminations is covered by France’s welfare system.

Last year, the French Parliament passed new reforms to expand abortion providers, by allowing midwives to carry out the procedure in health clinics.

Roe v. Wade

French politicians have been considering legislating abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, ending the right to an abortion in the country.

The decision gave individual U.S. state governments back their powers to decide abortion laws.

Total abortion bans have been introduced in several U.S. states since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

French President Emmanuel Macron was one of the first world leaders to condemn the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Macron said: “Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. We must protect it.”

Polling in the months after Roe v. Wade found that 86% of French people supported protecting abortion in its constitution, the document which forms the basis of the country’s political system.

Constitution

Unlike in Australia, where changes to the constitution require a national referendum, France can change its constitution through a political process.

Both houses of Parliament – the National Assembly and Senate – must agree to the exact wording of a law, meaning both houses have to agree on any amendments (changes).

Macron’s abortion rights reform received the required support in the National Assembly. Senators this week voted in favour of the change to the constitution 267 votes to 50.

Reaction

One of the reform’s key advocates was Mélanie Vogel from Les Écologistes (The Ecologists) party, who welcomed the amendment.

“Let us say today to our daughters, our nieces, our granddaughters: You are now, and forever, free to choose your lives,” she said.

The laws will be formally finalised in a joint sitting of Parliament at the Palace of Versailles on Monday (local time).

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