Wed, 17 April 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Why France enshrined abortion rights in its constitution

Update : 05 Mar 2024, 10:44

French lawmakers have convened in a special session and voted to amend the Constitution, making France a pioneer in enshrining the freedom to undergo abortion. It's the first country in the world to include the right to abortion in the constitution.

The special gathering follows a pivotal move by the French Senate, which voted on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, to guarantee access to the procedure constitutionally.

However, the journey leading to this moment stretches far back in time. It marks the culmination of a parliamentary process initiated on November 24, 2022, when the National Assembly, or the lower house of the French Parliament, passed a bill proposed by the left-wing La France Insoumise (LFI) party.

Here are a few key points about France's campaign for abortion freedom and how it compares to the rest of Europe.

Abortion rights are popular in France, even among right-wing politicians

In a late January 2024 session, members of the French National Assembly overwhelmingly threw their weight behind the inclusion of "the freedom to have an abortion" in the French constitution.

Out of approximately 500 MPs participating in the vote, merely 30 conservative MPs and independents opposed the bill. 

Public opinion in France is strongly in favor of abortion rights, as shown by several surveys. According to a 2022 poll by French polling firm IFOP, 86% of French citizens favored including abortion rights in the constitution.

The far-right National Rally party generally supports abortion rights, but it's still a controversial topic within their group. Out of their 88 MPs, 46 voted for the change, including Marine Le Pen, the party's leader. Twelve MPs voted against it, and fourteen abstained.

France has a long history of supporting abortion rights

Before 2022, many lawmakers didn't think adding abortion rights to the constitution was necessary because women already had the right and access to abortion.

The voluntary ending of pregnancy became legal in France in 1975 with a law named after Simone Veil, the health minister who supported it. The law allowed abortion up to the tenth week of pregnancy. Later, it was extended to the twelfth week in 2001 and then to the fourteenth week in 2022. Since the 1980s, the procedure has been covered by France's national healthcare system.

More on this topic

More on this topic