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France becomes the first country to enshrine the right to abortion in its Constitution

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France becomes the first country to enshrine the right to abortion in its Constitution

France Makes History by Enshrining Right to Abortion in Constitution

(CNN) – In a historic move, France has become the first country in the world to enshrine the right to abortion in its Constitution. The effort began as a direct response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the French Parliament overwhelmingly voted 780 in favor of the measure and 72 against, surpassing the three-fifths majority needed to amend the French Constitution.

The final vote took place during a special meeting of lawmakers at the Palace of Versailles, with the French Senate and National Assembly previously approving the amendment earlier this year.

The amendment establishes a “guaranteed freedom” to abort in France. While some groups and lawmakers had called for stronger language to explicitly label abortion as a “right,” the move is seen as a historic signal of support for reproductive rights.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal declared before the vote that lawmakers owed a “moral debt” to women who were forced to endure illegal abortions in the past. French President Emmanuel Macron announced a formal ceremony to celebrate the approval of the amendment on Friday, International Women’s Day.

France legalized abortion in 1975 following a campaign led by Health Minister Simone Veil, an Auschwitz survivor and feminist icon. Abortion has broad support in France, with many lawmakers who voted against the amendment doing so because they deemed it unnecessary given the widespread support for reproductive rights.

The approval of the measure is a significant victory for the French left, which has long advocated for guaranteeing the right to abortion in the Constitution. The move was prompted by the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, leaving the issue up to individual states.

The Catholic Church was among the few groups that opposed the amendment, stating that in the era of universal human rights, there can be no “right” to take human life.

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The vote marks the 25th modification to the French Constitution since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958. The approval of the amendment underscores France’s commitment to reproductive rights in the face of global challenges to abortion access.

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