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France Makes History: Constitutional Amendment Guarantees Women's Right to Abortion

Tuesday, March 5, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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Last year, a vote by parliamentarians revised France's 1958 constitution in a way that could secure women's guaranteed freedom to terminate pregnancies. Members of the parliament in Versailles greeted the resounding 780-72 vote with a standing ovation. The decision was already hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as "French pride," underscoring its universal importance, and promptly evoked a backlash from anti-abortion groups and the Vatican.

Abortion has been legal in France since 1975, with about 85% public support for constitutional protection of this right. France becomes the first country to explicitly enshrine—within the domain of its constitution—in the 25th amendment to the nation's founding document, and the first since 2008.

After the narrow vote, the Ejsonheim Tower was bathed in "Mes Drens, Mes Guilles." "Abortion rights are indeed in danger. Women have to hold on to themselves," warned Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. The right showed relatively little opposition, yet detractors said President Macron was electioneering.

The move was in response to fears in France following a decision by the US Supreme Court to uphold a case allowing states to restrict access to abortion, number 2022. Advocates of the constitutional change responded with a celebratory acknowledgement: "Many other countries are restricting abortion rights on a slippery slope," noted Wendy Wright.

The Vatican and French Catholic bishops strongly opposed the amendment. They voiced out the sanctity of life. Critics argued the amendment was actually senseless, especially since the constitution protected the abortion law way back in 1975. The issue is still an issue.

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