The French Parliament approves a bill that makes abortion a constitutional right

PARIS (AP) — French lawmakers on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill repealing the anti-terrorism law. Establishing abortion rights In the French Constitution, making it the only country that explicitly guarantees a woman's right to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy

This historic step was proposed by President Emmanuel Macron as a way to prevent this from happening Rolling back abortion rights The United States has witnessed in recent years, and the vote during a joint special session of the French Parliament received long applause among lawmakers.

The measure was approved by 780 votes to 72 at the Palace of Versailles. Abortion has broad support in France across most of the political spectrum, and has been legal since 1975.

Many of the female legislators in the room smiled broadly as they cheered. As a small group of protesters stood outside the joint session, there were jubilant scenes of celebrations across France as women's rights activists praised the measure. Macron promised Within hours of Dobbs ruling by the US Supreme Court In 2022.

The US decision has resonated around the world The political scene in EuropeWhich led to the issue returning to public debate in some countries at a time when far-right nationalist parties are gaining influence.

The two chambers of the French Parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, have separately adopted a draft law to amend Article 34 of the French Constitution, but the amendment needs final confirmation by a three-fifths majority in the joint special session. The measure stipulates that “the law determines the conditions under which women may exercise the freedom to resort to abortion, which is guaranteed.”

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The French measure is seen as a step further than in the former Yugoslavia, whose 1974 constitution stipulates that “a person is free to decide whether to have children.” Yugoslavia broke up in the early 1990s, and all of its successor states adopted similar measures in their constitutions that legally enable women to have abortions, although they do not explicitly guarantee it.

In the run-up to the vote, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal She addressed more than 900 lawmakers gathered at the joint session in Versailles, calling on them to make France a leader in women's rights and to set an example for countries around the world.

“We have a moral debt to women,” Attal said. He praised him simone ville, A prominent lawmaker, former health minister and major feminist who in 1975 championed the bill decriminalizing abortion in France.

“We have a chance to change history,” Atal said in a poignant and firm speech. “Make Simone Vale proud,” he said to loud applause.

None of France's main political parties have questioned the right to abortion, including Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally and the conservative Republicans.

Le Pen, who It won a record number of seats She said in the National Assembly two years ago on Monday that her party intended to vote in favor of the bill but added that “there is no need to make this a historic day.”

A recent poll showed that support for abortion rights among the French population is more than 80%, which is consistent with previous polls. The same poll also showed that a large majority of people support its inclusion in the constitution.

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About 200 anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in Versailles before the vote, some carrying a sign reading: “I, too, was a fetus.”

A larger crowd of women's rights activists gathered in Trocadero Square, overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and let out a collective cry of joy as the voting results emerged. Others celebrated across France even before the joint parliamentary session began.

Sarah Durocher, a leader in the Planned Parenthood movement, said Monday's vote is “a victory for feminists and a defeat for anti-choice activists.”

“We have increased the level of protection for this fundamental right,” said Anne-Cécile Melvert of the Women's Foundation. “It is a guarantee that women today and in the future will have the right to an abortion in France.”

The government said in its introduction to the bill that the right to abortion is threatened in the United States, where abortion is a right The Supreme Court overturned it in 2022 A 50-year rule would have guaranteed him.

“Unfortunately, this event is not isolated: in many countries, even in Europe, there are currents of opinion that seek to impede a woman’s freedom to terminate her pregnancy at any cost if she so desires,” the introduction to the French legislation reads.

“It may not be a problem in France, where the majority of people support abortion,” said Mathilde Philippe Guy, a law professor who specializes in French and American constitutional law. “But these same people may one day vote for a far-right government, and what happened in the United States could happen elsewhere in Europe, including in France.”

Philippe Guy added that including abortion in the French constitution “will make it more difficult for future opponents of abortion to challenge these rights, but it will not prevent them from doing so in the long term, with the right political strategy.”

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“It only takes a moment for everything we thought we had achieved to disappear,” Yael Braun-Bivet, the first female speaker of the French Parliament, said in her speech to the joint session.

Amending the constitution is an arduous process and a rare event in France. Since its promulgation in 1958, the French Constitution has been amended 17 times.

The justice minister said the new amendment would be formally incorporated into the constitution at a public ceremony at Place Vendôme in Paris on Friday – International Women's Day.

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Barbara Sork reported from Nice. Michel Euler in Versailles and Oleg Cetinek and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

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