The French lower house National Assembly will vote in November on two rival proposals to enshrine abortion rights in the country’s constitution, one drafted by the hard-left France Unboiled party and the other by President Emmanuel Macron’s renaissance. has gone. But even if one does pass, the road ahead is fraught with political divisions and complicated parliamentary procedures.
French Holocaust survivor and women’s rights advocate Simone Weil pushed for legislation decriminalizing abortion while serving as health minister. The Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy Act—known as the “Veil Law”—was adopted on January 17, 1975.
But shortly after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in June, the French National Assembly was abuzz with debate over whether the country should enshrine that right in its constitution.
Two separate amendments were filed as a result, one from France’s hard-left France Unabode party and the other from President Macron’s Renaissance party. MPs will debate these on 24 and 28 November respectively.
The resolution of Macron’s Renaissance party states, “No woman can be denied the right to have an abortion.” France Unobedes is similar but includes the right to contraception, reading: “No one may violate the right to abortion and contraception.”
some MPs Those on the far-right see the bills as a quick response to a legal right that, according to them, is not under threat in France.
Others, such as France’s unseated MP Adrien Quatenance, Roe v. Wade’s reversal is a red flag and prefers to take preventive measures. “In light of the situation in the United States … this right must be protected in the Constitution because the future is uncertain whether it may be threatened,” he said. Told French newspaper Le Monde.
a divided political landscape
It appears that the presidential party and the New Ecological and Social Popular Union (NUPES), a left-wing umbrella group that includes France Unbod, have reached a consensus. But lawmakers from right-wing parties such as Les Républiques or the far-right National Rally are torn between conservative and even anti-abortion stances or more progressive ones.
For example, Les République MP Aurélien Pradi recently voiced his support for the bill. “I hope we can vote to make this right constitutional,” he said on French Channel Sud radio. But the man who heads Predi’s party, Bruno Retleau, Tweeted His reluctance to enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution.
Marine Le Pen, who until recently led the far-right National Rally party, has always expressed her reluctance. “We are not the United States of America. No political party in France is seeking to end abortion rights. I really don’t understand what danger this bill is trying to address,” he told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche on 13 November.
During her 2012 campaign for the presidency, Le Pen hinted at ending state reimbursement for abortion and stated that she believed that some women were referring to “comfort abortion” as a means of contraception. uses them as such. His words remain highly controversial.
Other members of the National Rally are staunchly and vociferously opposing the idea. some Even abortion performed at 14 weeks (now legal in France) was compared to “the Armenian and Rwandan genocide, the Holocaust”.
Since the current constitution of France was adopted in 1958 only 24 amendments have been built, the last one was passed in 2008. These include the right to direct universal suffrage, passed in 1962, and limiting the president’s powers to two consecutive terms.
To amend the constitution, the approval of the President, the approval of both houses (National Assembly and the Senate) and the approval of the final text by a three-fifths majority of both chambers are required. Another option is to hold a referendum, but only after two assemblies have voted in favor of the bill.
This means that even if one of the texts is adopted by the National Assembly, there is still a long way to go before the right to abortion is included in the constitution.
And so far, proposals to do so have been rejected by the French Senate.
Speaking to FRANCE 24, Senator Melanie Vogel of the Greens explained that since the passage of the 1975 Veil law, “right-wing senators have always opposed various advances related to abortion rights”.
,[The right] Opposed reimbursement of abortion costs, extension of legal deadlines and criminalization of any intervention in pregnancy, she said. But she remains optimistic.
Right-wing senators rejected Vogel’s cross-party proposal to include abortion in the constitution on 19 October.
But even then, “the opposition was not that strong in the end”, he said, referring to the 139 votes cast for and 172 against.
“I believe there is a way forward, and we have a chance to win this victory in the Senate.”
This article was translated from the original in French.