French Lawmakers Vote to Enshrine Abortion Rights in Constitution

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French lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill to enshrine abortion rights in France’s Constitution, the first step in a complex legislative process that began in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The bill, proposed by President Emmanuel Macron and his government, was passed by the National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house of France’s Parliament, with 493 votes in favor and 30 against. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal called the vote a “great victory.”

Unlike in the United States, most of France’s political parties broadly support the right to abortion, which was legalized in 1975, and there is no immediate or serious threat to its legality. Putting that right into the Constitution would not change the availability of abortion in France, where both residents and foreigners can terminate pregnancies.

But the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturning the constitutional right to an abortion set off alarm bells in Europe and galvanized efforts in France to protect the right as inalienable. Activists have also made the case that abortion rights are increasingly under threat in European countries like Poland and Italy, making it all the more urgent to enshrine it in France in case future governments try to roll it back.

“While this freedom is not directly threatened or called into question in our country today, except by what is fortunately a very small minority of opinion, this is not the case in other countries,” the bill’s introductory text states.

It explicitly cites the U.S. court’s action overturning Roe v. Wade after 49 years.

“Unfortunately, this event is not an isolated one: In many countries, even in Europe, there are currents that seek to hinder women’s freedom to terminate their pregnancy if they so wish,” it adds.

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French Lawmakers Vote to Enshrine Abortion Rights in Constitution

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