French Senate Votes to Enshrine Abortion as a Constitutional Right

French Senate Approves A Bill To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right

France’s Senate is set to vote on Wednesday on a significant bill aiming to embed a woman’s right to abortion into the country’s constitution, a commitment made by President Emmanuel Macron in response to shifts in abortion rulings in the United States.

The vote follows the National Assembly’s resounding approval of the proposal in January, signaling broad support within the French legislative body.

While a majority of senators lean towards supporting the constitutional amendment, some conservatives have raised concerns about the wording of the bill, introducing uncertainty regarding the outcome of the vote.

The proposed amendment seeks to revise Article 34 of the constitution, specifying that “the law determines the conditions under which women can freely access abortion, a right that is guaranteed.”

French Senate Votes to Enshrine Abortion as a Constitutional Right
French Senate Votes to Enshrine Abortion as a Constitutional Right (Credits: The Washington Post)

Should the Senate endorse the same version as the National Assembly, the constitutional change will necessitate final approval by a three-fifths majority in a joint parliamentary session, typically held at the Palace of Versailles.

In the event of Senate alterations or rejection, the bill would return to the National Assembly for further deliberation.

None of the major political parties represented in the French parliament are disputing the right to abortion, which was legalized in 1975.

The government, in its rationale for the bill, highlighted the perceived threat to abortion rights in the United States, particularly following a 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning a longstanding ruling safeguarding abortion access.

“This unfortunate event is not an isolated incident: in numerous countries, including some in Europe, there are movements aiming to obstruct women’s freedom to terminate pregnancies at their discretion,” the introduction to the French legislation asserts.

Poland serves as a poignant example, where a contentious tightening of already restrictive abortion laws sparked widespread protests last year. In 2020, the Polish constitutional court ruled against terminating pregnancies in cases of severe fetal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome.

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