France makes Abortion Rights Constitutional

France has made history by becoming the inaugural nation to expressly incorporate the right to abortion within its constitution.

Lawmakers voted to amend the nation’s 1958 constitution, solidifying women’s “ensured freedom” to terminate pregnancies. In a resounding 780-72 vote, parliamentarians in Versailles erupted into a standing ovation upon the announcement of the outcome.

President Emmanuel Macron hailed the decision as a source of “French pride” and a conveyance of a “universal message”. Nevertheless, the alteration has faced strong criticism from anti-abortion factions, including the Vatican.

Abortion has been lawful in France since 1975, with surveys indicating approximately 85% public support for amending the constitution to safeguard this right.

While several other nations include reproductive rights in their constitutions, France is the first to explicitly guarantee the right to abortion. This amendment marks the 25th alteration to France’s contemporary founding document and the first since 2008.

In celebration of the vote, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was illuminated with the message: “My Body My Choice”.

Marking the Historic Moment, Eiffel Tower lit up with Slogans like, “My Body My Choice”. (Image: VOA)

Ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal cautioned parliament that the right to abortion remained “endangered” and “subject to the whims of decision-makers”.

“We are sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you, and no one else can dictate its fate,” he emphasized.

While there was no opposition from conservative members of parliament, some people are saying that President Macron is only changing the constitution for his benefit in the next election.

They think the change is not needed, and they accuse the president of trying to look more left-wing.

Since 1975, the law on abortion has been changed nine times, each time to make it easier for people to get abortions.

France’s Constitutional Council, which checks if laws are fair, has never had a problem with the abortion law.

In 2001, the council said that abortion was allowed because of the idea of freedom in the Declaration of the Rights of Man from 1789, which is part of the Constitution.

Recent events in the United States, where the Supreme Court removed the right to abortion in 2022, prompted the constitutional change in France. Now, individual states in the US can prohibit abortion again, denying millions of women the right to choose.

Many people have welcomed the decision to include abortion in the French constitution.

Laura Slimani, from the Fondation des Femmes rights group, said, “The right to abortion has been weakened in the United States. So, we couldn’t assume that France was safe from this risk.” She expressed strong emotions as a feminist activist and a woman.

However, not everyone supports the change. The Vatican reiterated its opposition to abortion, stating, “There cannot be a ‘right’ to end a human life.” This stance echoes concerns previously voiced by French Catholic bishops.

The Vatican urged governments and religious communities to prioritize protecting life during this period in history.

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