A bill to make abortion a constitutional right goes to a vote in the French Senate


PARIS (AP) — France’s Senate is to vote on Wednesday on a bill meant to enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in the constitution, a measure promised by President Emmanuel Macron following a rollback on rulings in the United States.

Wednesday’s vote comes after the lower house, the National Assembly, overwhelmingly approved the proposal in January.

A majority of senators appear to be in favor of the constitutional change, but some conservatives have criticized its wording, casting doubt over the outcome of the vote.

Macron’s government wants Article 34 of the constitution amended to specify that “the law determines the conditions by which is exercised the freedom of women to have recourse to an abortion, which is guaranteed.”

If the Senate adopts the same version of the bill as the National Assembly, the constitutional change will require definitive approval by a three-fifths majority of a joint session of parliament, traditionally held at the Palace of Versailles.

If the Senate amends the proposal or reject it, the bill must return to the National Assembly for further debate.

None of France’s major political parties represented in parliament is questioning the right to abortion, which was decriminalized in 1975.

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 used to guarantee it.

“Unfortunately, this event is not isolated: in many countries, even in Europe, there are currents of opinion that seek to hinder at any cost the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancy if they wish,” the introduction to the French legislation says.

In Poland, a controversial tightening of the already restrictive abortion law led to protests in the country last year The Polish constitutional court ruled in 2020 that women could no longer terminate pregnancies in cases of severe fetal deformities, including Down Syndrome.

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