xi's moments
Home | Europe

France guarantees right of abortion

By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-03-06 09:25

People gather near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Monday to watch the live telecast of the convocation of both houses of parliament, where lawmakers voted to guarantee the right of abortion in the country's constitution. DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP

France made history on Monday by becoming the first country in the world to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution at a time when such rights are being challenged in the United States.

Of the 902 French lawmakers in an extraordinary voting session in Versailles outside Paris, the results were 780 in favor, 72 against and 50 abstentions, surpassing the 512 that were needed.

The measure had been passed in the past two months by both lower and upper houses, but final approval by a three-fifths majority in the joint session was needed to effect constitutional change.

French lawmakers welcomed the decision with thunderous applause on Monday and the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris was illuminated on Monday evening to celebrate the decision.

The vote, enshrined in Article 34 of the French constitution, declares that "the law determines the conditions in which a woman has the guaranteed freedom to have recourse to an abortion".

The French constitutional amendment came after the US Supreme Court ruled in 2022 to overturn Roe versus Wade, a historic case in 1973 which protects the right to have an abortion in the US.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told the joint session of the parliament on Monday that "it takes one generation, one year, one week for things to change drastically", pointing to "American women who must fight for abortion rights".

'Your body belongs to you'

"We're sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you," he said.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus applauded the decision.

"Safe #abortion is healthcare. We welcome #France's decision to secure women's rights and save their lives," he said on X.

"France just made history as the first country in the world to constitutionalize abortion rights! Reproductive rights are human rights," Human Rights Watch said in a message on X.

In France, women have had a legal right to abortion since a 1974 law. An IFOP poll in November 2022 showed that 81 percent of French people were favorable toward adding abortion access to the constitution.

But the Vatican said in a statement on Monday that "there can be no 'right' to take a human life", echoing concerns in some Catholic countries.

Abortion is still a major issue in some European Union countries. A 2020 court ruling in Poland led to a near-total ban on abortion.

Abortion is legal in Poland only if pregnancy results from sexual assault or incest, or threatens the life or health of the mother.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen accused President Emmanuel Macron of using the issue to score political points.

"We will vote to include it in the constitution because we have no problem with that," she said ahead of the vote, adding that "no one is putting the right to abortion at risk in France".

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349