French Senate votes to enshrine abortion as constitutional right

French Senate votes to enshrine abortion as constitutional right

By Sylvie Corbet and Barbara Surk | Associated Press

PARIS — France’s Senate on Wednesday adopted a bill to enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in the constitution, clearing a key hurdle for legislation promised by President Emmanuel Macron in response to a rollback in abortion rights in the United States.

Wednesday’s vote came after the lower house, the National Assembly, overwhelmingly approved the proposal in January. The measure now goes before a joint session of parliament for its expected approval by a three-fifths majority next week.

Macron said after the vote that his government is committed to “making women’s right to have an abortion irreversible by enshrining it in the constitution.” He said on X, formerly Twitter, that he would convene a joint session of parliament for a final vote on Monday.

Macron’s government wants Article 34 of the constitution amended to specify that “the law determines the conditions by which is exercised the freedom of women to have recourse to an abortion, which is guaranteed.”

The senate adopted the bill on a vote of 267 in favor, and 50 against. “This vote is historic,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said. “The Senate has written a new page in women’s rights.”

None of France’s major political parties represented in parliament has questioned the right to abortion, which was decriminalized in 1975. With both houses of parliament adopting the bill, Monday’s joint session at the Palace of Versailles is expected to be largely a formality.

The government argued in its introduction to the bill that the right to abortion is threatened in the United States, where the Supreme Court in 2022 overturned a 50-year-old ruling that used to guarantee it.

“Unfortunately, this event is not isolated: in many countries, even in Europe, there are currents of opinion that seek to hinder at any cost the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancy if they wish,” the introduction to the French legislation says.

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In Poland, a controversial tightening of the already restrictive abortion law led to protests in the country last year The Polish constitutional court ruled in 2020 that women could no longer terminate pregnancies in cases of severe fetal deformities, including Down Syndrome.

Surk reported from Nice, France.