France Becomes World’s First Country To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right 

This week, France became the first country in the world to make getting an abortion a constitutional right. The effort to do so in the nation began as a direct response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, which removed federal protections for abortion rights. 

According to reports from CNN, lawmakers from both houses of the French Parliament voted 780 to 72 in favor of the measure; in order to amend the French constitution they needed a three-fifths majority. 

Monday’s vote also marked the final step in the legislative process to approve the amendment. The French Senate and the National Assembly both “overwhelmingly approved the amendment earlier this year,” according to Joshua Berlinger and Xiaofei Xu of CNN. The gathering took place at the Palace of Versailles. 

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The amendment itself guarantees citizens the freedom to abortion in France, with some groups and lawmakers calling on stronger language to be used to call abortion a “right.” France is also hoping that this history-making decision will steer other nations towards a similar direction. 

Abortion rights are currently under threat in the US as well as other parts of Europe under far-right party power, like Hungary. 

Following the decision, the Eiffel Tower lit up in celebratory fashion with the words “my body my choice.” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stated that lawmakers in general had a “moral debt” to all women who were forced to get an illegal abortions in the past. 

“Above all, we’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you.”

To celebrate the new amendment’s addition to the constitution, French President Emmanuel Macron said the government would be throwing a formal ceremony this Friday, which is International Women’s Rights Day. 

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In 1975, the Health Minister at the time, Simone Veil, who was an Auschwitz survivor, was able to get abortion legalized in France after a massive campaign. Veil has long been hailed as one of France’s most famous feminist icons. 

France has widely supported the right to an abortion. In fact, reports state that the lawmakers who voted against the amendment didn’t do so because they opposed abortion, but instead thought it was an unnecessary measure due to the nation’s overall support for reproductive rights.

With the US’s overturning of Roe v Wade and the overall debate over reproductive rights in America, France wanted to move quickly to guarantee abortion rights by putting it in the constitution. Before 2022, President Macron’s government held the same position as the lawmakers on the opposition of the recent amendment vote, they thought it was just unnecessary. 

When the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, France was pushed to do something official. 

French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti had argued before 2022 that history is full of examples of “fundamental rights” being taken away when they were believed to be permanently protected. 

“As we were recently reminded by the decision of the US Supreme Court, we now have irrefutable proof that no democracy, not even the largest of them all, is immune,” he stated.