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France Paves the Way for Constitutional Protection of Abortion

France is assured to make history by protecting the right to abortion as a constitutional guarantee, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing fight for reproductive rights. Following a successful vote in the Senate, the French government, lawmakers, and senators are steadfast in their commitment to securing the "guaranteed freedom" of women to choose abortion. 

The decision to make abortion a constitutional right comes in the wake of the 2022 Supreme Court ruling in the United States, which overturned the landmark Roe v Wade decision, jeopardizing access to abortion across the nation. 

Concerned about similar threats in Europe, French officials emphasize the need for full constitutional protection to safeguard women's reproductive autonomy. The recent rise of far-right political groups in countries like Hungary, Poland, Italy, and Spain has further intensified the concerns, prompting France to take a proactive stance in defending women's rights.

Historic Senate Vote

France's Senate voted overwhelmingly in favour of the bill, with 267 senators supporting the constitutional guarantee of the right to abortion, while only 50 opposed. This historic decision sets the stage for a joint session of parliament, where approval by a three-fifths majority is anticipated

The Macron government is pushing for an amendment to Article 34 of the constitution, explicitly stating that the law will determine the conditions under which women can exercise their freedom to choose abortion.

The move to constitutionalize abortion enjoys broad support within France. According to the BBC, an Ifop opinion poll indicating that 86% of the population favoured the amendment during the National Assembly's vote in November 2022. This robust public support underscores the significance of the legislation and reflects a societal commitment to upholding reproductive rights.

Protecting Decades of Progress

The decision to embed the right to abortion in the constitution is seen as a means of preserving the gains made since the decriminalization of abortion in France in 1975. Lawmakers argue that this proactive step will fortify the legal foundation that underpins women's reproductive freedom

The expression "liberté garantie" was chosen as a compromise, reflecting the delicate balance struck between different perspectives during the lengthy debates surrounding the bill.

France's move to constitutionalize abortion may also reverberate beyond its borders. The effort could potentially inspire similar endeavours to include abortion in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, offering a unified protection of abortion access across the European Union.

As France prepares for the joint parliamentary session, the impending constitutional guarantee of the right to abortion stands as a historic victory for women's rights and reproductive freedom, as expressed by Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti. In a world where reproductive rights are under threat, France's resolute stance sends a powerful message about the importance of protecting and advancing women's autonomy

The decision not only secures the rights of French women but also contributes to the global dialogue on safeguarding reproductive rights in the face of rising challenges.

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