France enshrines abortion as a constitutional right in wake of Dobbs ruling, activists declare ‘a victory’

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France has amended its constitution to enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion, calls for which gained momentum after the United States reversed Roe v. Wade in 2022. 

French lawmakers on Monday convened at the Palace of Versailles where they approved the bill in a 780-72 vote. 

Monday’s vote makes France the first country to have a constitutional right to an abortion since the former Yugoslavia inscribed it in its 1974 constitution. 

french lawmakers

French lawmakers celebrate after they approved a bill that will enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in France’s constitution, at the Palace of Versailles, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Versailles, west of Paris.  (Emmanuel Dunand/Pool via AP)

Abortion, which has been legal in France since 1975, enjoys wide support among the French public. A recent poll showed support at more than 80%. The same poll also showed that a solid majority of people are in favor of enshrining it in the Constitution.

None of France’s major political parties represented in parliament have questioned the right to abortion, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party and the conservative Republicans. 

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There were jubilant scenes of celebrations all over France Monday as women’s rights activists hailed the measure promised by President Emmanuel Macron immediately following the Dobbs ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022.

french abortion

Pro-abortion supporters watch a live transmission of the congress session where French lawmakers have approved a bill that will enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in the French Constitution, at Trocadero Plaza in Paris, Monday, March 4, 2024.  (AP Photo/Oleg Cetinic)

Sarah Durocher, a leader in the Family Planning movement, hailed Monday’s vote as “a victory for feminists and a defeat for the anti-choice activists.”

The government argued in its introduction to the bill that the right to abortion is threatened in the United States, where the Supreme Court in 2022 overturned a 50-year-old ruling that legalized abortion at the federal level. 

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The French legislation argues that the U.S. is not isolated in this as there are “currents of opinion” in other countries – including Europe – “that seek to hinder at any cost the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancy if they wish.” 

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