In what has been referred to as a historic vote, the French National Assembly passed a bill that could see France become the first country in the world to enshrine abortion in its constitution.
On Tuesday, 493 lawmakers in the lower house voted in favour of the bill, with 30 voting against. This means that the bill will now move to the Senate for debate and a vote, and if it is approved, a special body composed of both chambers of Parliament will meet to discuss its adoption.
Macron's government is seeking to amend Article 34 of the constitution to include that "the law determines the conditions by which is exercised the freedom of women to have recourse to an abortion, which is guaranteed."
“History is full of examples of… fundamental rights… which everyone… believed to have been definitively acquired, and which were then swept away… as we were recently reminded by the decision of the US Supreme Court,” Justice Minister Éric Dupont-Moretti said when addressing the lower house. “We now have irrefutable proof that no democracy, not even the largest of them all, is immune.”
In response to the passing of the bill, Gender Equality Minister Aurore Bergé wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter): “We have a duty to press on. For our mothers who fought. For our daughters, so that they never have to fight again."
Sarah Durocher, President of Planning Familial (the French arm of Planned Parenthood International), told CNN that while the bill represents a symbolic move, “women are reporting real difficulties in accessing abortion. Some women have to travel from one region to another to get an abortion. There’s a shortage of doctors, maternity wards and local abortion clinics are being closed.”
In France, under the terms of a law (referred to as The Veil Act) passed by Parliament in 1975, abortions are legal up to 12 weeks of pregnancy if the person seeking the abortion is a French resident and, in the event that they are a minor, they have parental consent.