France Pioneers Abortion Rights: First Country to Embed in Constitution

France has made history by becoming the first nation to explicitly include the right to abortion in its constitution. The monumental decision was sealed with an overwhelming parliamentary vote of 780-72 in favor of amending the country’s 1958 constitution to secure women’s “guaranteed freedom” to terminate pregnancies. The momentous occasion witnessed jubilant scenes in the parliament at Versailles, marked by a standing ovation as lawmakers affirmed their commitment to reproductive rights.

The constitutional amendment underscores that abortion is a fundamental right governed by laws established by Parliament, providing a robust legal safeguard against potential changes to existing abortion laws. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal emphasized the significance of the decision, stating, “We’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you.”

This historic move by France comes amidst global concerns following the US Supreme Court’s controversial 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively stripping away abortion rights nationwide. President Emmanuel Macron, who vowed to make women’s freedom to choose abortion “irreversible,” hailed the decision as “French pride” and a “universal message” of progress.

While abortion rights enjoy widespread support in France, critics have accused Macron of leveraging the constitutional amendment for political gain. Nonetheless, proponents argue that embedding abortion rights in the constitution is a crucial step in safeguarding women’s reproductive autonomy, particularly in the face of mounting challenges to abortion access.

The Vatican has reiterated its staunch opposition to abortion, asserting that “there can be no ‘right’ to take a human life.” However, the move has been hailed by women’s rights activists and organizations as a significant victory for reproductive rights and gender equality.

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