France on-track to constitutionalize abortion rights

France on-track to constitutionalize abortion rights
# 31 January 2024 03:25 (UTC +04:00)

The French National Assembly has passed a historic bill that moves the country one step closer to enshrining the right to abortion in its constitution, APA reports.

In a vote in the lower house of the French parliament on Tuesday, 493 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, 30 against. The bill will now move to the Senate for debate and a vote and, if approved, a special body composed of both chambers of the parliament will meet again for its adoption.

The bid for constitutionalization became a priority for the French government following the overturning by the United States Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The cause had been championed for several years by left-wing lawmakers and women’s rights activists.

When parliamentary discussions began at the lower house over the text of the proposed bill last week, the threat of France following in the footsteps of the US echoed loudly in the chamber. Almost all of the lawmakers that spoke in support of constitutionalization stressed the importance of ensuring that the reversal of reproductive rights witnessed across the Atlantic would never reach France’s shores.

“History is full of examples of… fundamental rights… which everyone… believed to have been definitively acquired, and which were then swept away… as we were recently reminded by the decision of the US Supreme Court,” Justice Minister Éric Dupont-Moretti said in his opening speech. “We now have irrefutable proof that no democracy, not even the largest of them all, is immune.”

If the bill becomes law, France will become the first country in the world to include abortion rights in its constitution, according to a constitutional expert and Guillaume Gauffier Valent, a lawmaker in charge of the law, marking a historic moment for reproductive rights in the country and around the world.

France’s Gender Equality Minister Aurore Bergé hailed Tuesday’s vote as “historic.” “We have a duty to press on. For our mothers who fought. For our daughters, so that they never have to fight again,” Bergé wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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