France becomes world’s first country to enshrine abortion in constitution – Al Jazeera English

French lawmakers approve bill in a 780-72 vote at an exceptional joint session of Parliament.
French lawmakers have approved a bill that will enshrine the right to an abortion in the Constitution of France in a joint session of Parliament at the Palace of Versailles.
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 celebratory scenes across the country 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.
The move makes France the first country in the world to offer explicit protection for terminating a pregnancy in its basic law.
Both houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, have already adopted a bill to amend Article 34 of the constitution to specify a woman’s right to an abortion is guaranteed.
“France is at the forefront,” the head of the lower house of Parliament, Yael Braun-Pivet, said as she opened the joint meeting.
“I’m proud of this Congress, which will say that the right to get an abortion will now be part of our basic law,” she said.
Prime Minister Gabriel Attal had earlier said: “We’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you.”
The US Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to reverse the Roe v Wade ruling that guaranteed women’s access to abortion prompted activists in France to push for the country to clearly protect the right in its basic law.
“Unfortunately, this event is not isolated: in many countries, even in Europe, there are currents of opinion that seek to hinder at any cost the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancy if they wish,” the introduction to the French legislation says.
“This right [to abortion] has retreated in the United States. And so nothing authorised us to think that France was exempt from this risk,” said Laura Slimani, from the Fondation des Femmes rights group.
“There’s a lot of emotion, as a feminist activist, also as a woman. And there’s a lot solemnity in a certain way, since we’re going to live through a historic moment, I hope,” she added.
The response to the vote also included criticism from anti-abortion groups and far-right leaders, including Marine Le Pen.
Le Pen said Macron was using the legislation to score political points.
“We will vote to include it in the constitution because we have no problem with that,” Le Pen said.
But it was an exaggeration to call it a historic step because “no one is putting the right to abortion at risk in France”, she said.
Pascale Moriniere, president of the Association of Catholic Families, said the vote was a result of “panic”.
“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,” she said. “There was an effect of panic from feminist movements, which wished to engrave this on the marble of the constitution.”
Women have had the legal right to abortion in France since 1974.

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