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France Moves towards Making Abortion a Constitutional Right

France’s National Assembly has voted in favor of enshrining the right to abortion in the constitution, an act that was taken following the recent restrictions increased in other countries.

Left-wing MP Mathilde Panot, who is one of the main people behind the change, said it was to protect against the “backsliding” seen in the US and Poland.

The vote in the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, paves the way as the first step towards enshrining the right to abortion in the constitution.

In order to change the constitution, a bill will have to be voted on in the same terms by the lower house and the Senate.

An allegedly difficult road towards enshrining the abortion rights, MPs from the left wing party La France Insoumise and the ruling Centrist coalition came up to an agreement on the wording of the new clause, which went through with a rather huge majority. 

“The law guarantees the effectiveness and equal access to the right to voluntarily end a pregnancy,” reads the proposed constitutional addition to article 66.

337 approvals rung through the huge room with just 32 against the new clause. 

“The assembly is speaking to the world, our country is speaking to the world,” said jubilant left-wing lawmaker Mathilde Panot, citing the vote towards women in Hungary, Poland and the United States. 

Panot, who is known for being the backbone behind the change alongside a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, said the move was crucial in France to protect “against a regression”.

However, women in France have a legal right to abortion for 48 years now. The law that once came into effect in 1974 has been updated with the latest addition in February that grants access to abortion to 14 weeks of pregnancy. The previous limit was 12 weeks. 

According to Panot, this addition to the constitution would further enhance the protection and make it harder to overturn in France. Abortion rights are heavily endorsed in France compared to the US and a few European countries. According to France24, roughly 83% of French people are happy with legal abortion rights which is 16 percent more than 30 years ago.

However, several conservative and Catholic politicians have voiced their concerns about the abortion change, citing it as unnesary considering the legal protections that are already in place.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, had reportedly called it “totally misplaced” earlier this week since the abortion rights were not under threat in France. 

This comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court rule to overturn Roe v. Wade, a law that freely granted American women the right to abortion. The court stated that the states may allow abortion based on the court’s written opinion.  Poland too has a rather firm stand against abortion access for women. 

As France inches closer towards fully modernizing the country, people are increasingly concerned about the laws on the rise in its ultra-secular society.

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  • Zamena Manekia Manji

    Zamena Manekia Manji is a breaking news writer for TMJ News with experience of over 10 years in the field. Her areas of focus are important breaking stories in North America specifically untold stories from a minority lens.

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