President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday that the French Constitution will recognize the right to abortion starting next year, making France the first country to have that right guaranteed by the Constitution.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, Macron promised to include the right to abortion in the Constitution “because women’s rights are always a precarious achievement”, quoting the famous Tunisian-French lawyer and feminist activist Gisèle Halimi.
On Sunday, Macron reiterated his plans and also provided a timeline, writing in X that “in 2024, women’s freedom of choice on abortion will be irreversible.”
As the abortion debate crept back into France in June 2022, when the US Supreme Court gave states the power to ban or allow abortion, in the same month, 81% of French people said they agreed that “a woman’s right to choose abortion is enshrined in the French Constitution,” with 48% “very in favor,” according to a poll conducted by IFOP.
If France included the right to have an abortion in its constitution, it would be the first country in the world to do so, a manager at Planning Familial told Euractiv in January.
In November 2022, the leader of the radical left party in the assembly Mathilde Panot pushed her colleagues to pass a constitutional law that read: “No one shall violate the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy and to contraception.”
However, in February 2023, the Senate proposed a constitutional amendment that read: “The law shall determine the conditions under which a woman’s freedom to terminate her pregnancy is exercised,” thus eliminating the word “right.”
According to Euractiv, the Senate version will be presented next week. Panot described the X announcement as “a victory for associations, collectives and activists fighting to finally guarantee women’s right to control their own bodies.”
In the EU, however, all member states except Poland and Malta allow abortion on request, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights’ comparative overview updated in September.
Poland allows abortion only in case of threat to the pregnant woman’s life or pregnancy due to sexual violence, as it has decided to eliminate fetal malformation as a reason for requesting an abortion.
In Malta, last June Parliament unanimously approved a law allowing abortion in cases where the pregnant woman’s life is at significant risk.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 41 out of 47 European countries have legalized abortion on demand, and the United Kingdom allows it for broad social reasons.
Poland, Malta, Lichtenstein, Monaco and the Danish jurisdiction of the Faroe Islands are considered “highly restrictive” regimes in terms of abortion rights, while Andorra remains the only European country with a total abortion ban.
(Théophane Hartmann | Euractiv.fr)
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