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Thursday, April 18, 2024
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French lawmakers pass bill to establish abortion as constitutional right in 13 words or less.

French lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a historic bill enshrining abortion rights in the country’s constitution, making France the only nation to explicitly guarantee a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. The move, proposed by President Emmanuel Macron, aims to safeguard against the erosion of abortion rights witnessed in the United States in recent years. The resounding 780-72 vote during a special joint session of parliament was met with a prolonged standing ovation, reflecting widespread support for abortion across the political spectrum in France since its legalization in 1975.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal urged over 900 lawmakers gathered in Versailles to position France as a global leader in women’s rights by passing the bill. The measure amends Article 34 of the French Constitution to affirm that women have the freedom to choose abortion, thus setting a significant precedent. Simone Veil, a key feminist figure who spearheaded the decriminalization of abortion in France in 1975, was honored during the session. Despite minor protests outside the venue, jubilant celebrations erupted nationwide among women’s rights activists, underlining the monumental impact of the legislation.

In the context of growing far-right nationalist sentiments in Europe, the decision to explicitly enshrine abortion rights in the French Constitution holds profound significance. The overwhelming public support for abortion rights in France, as evidenced by recent polls, aligns with the government’s push to fortify these rights in response to threats observed in the United States. The amendment, slated to be commemorated during a public ceremony on International Women’s Day, symbolizes a critical advancement in safeguarding women’s reproductive freedoms and serves as a beacon for progressive legislation in the face of potential challenges in the future.

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