France Enshrines the Right to Abortion in Its Constitution

In a historic move, France became the first country in the world to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution on March 4, 2024. The decision was made through a special joint vote of the two houses of parliament, with an overwhelming majority of 780 votes in favor and 72 against. The vote took place under the gilded ceilings of Versailles Palace, just outside Paris.

According to the amendment, abortion is a “guaranteed freedom” in France. The decision to enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution is seen as a significant step towards ensuring that women’s reproductive rights are protected and upheld.

The Amendment to the French Constitution

The vote enshrined the right to abortion in Article 34 of the French constitution, stating that “the law determines the conditions in which a woman has the guaranteed freedom to have recourse to an abortion.” This amendment aims to protect women’s bodily autonomy and their right to make decisions about their own reproductive health.

The Legal History of Abortion in France

Women have had a legal right to abortion in France since a 1974 law, which was harshly criticized at the time. The decision to enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution further strengthens the legal protection of this right and ensures that it cannot be easily overturned by future governments or court decisions.

Widespread Support for Abortion Rights in France

Abortion rights are widely accepted in France, with polls indicating that around 80% of French people support the legality of abortion. The move to enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution was welcomed by women’s rights groups as a historic step, while anti-abortion groups strongly criticized the decision.

Reaction from Women’s Rights Activists

Abortion rights activists gathered in central Paris cheered and applauded as the result of the vote was announced on a giant screen, with the Eiffel Tower displaying the message “MyBodyMyChoice” in the background.

The U.S. Supreme Court Decision and Its Impact

It is believed that the decision to enshrine the right to abortion in the French constitution was partly influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to reverse the Roe v. Wade ruling, which had previously recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion. This decision prompted activists in France to push for the country to become the first to explicitly protect the right to abortion in its basic law.

 


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