The challenge of enshrining abortion rights in the French constitution

© Michel Euler, AFP

During a speech given on International Woman’s Day, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision to put forward a bill enshrining abortion rights in the country's constitution. Despite being lauded by women’s rights groups, changing the constitution may be more difficult than it appears.

Perhaps in an attempt to divert attention from the backlash his government is facing over the recent pension reform proposal, Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, March 8 announced his intention to cement abortion rights in the French constitution as he paid tribute to feminist activist Gisèle Halimi, who greatly influenced the passing in 1975 of the Veil Act granting women the right to abortion and contraception.

“Progress made through parliamentary talks initiated by the National Assembly and informed by the Senate would allow, I hope, to inscribe this freedom in our founding text through a bill amending our constitution introduced in the coming months,” Macron said at the Palais de Justice courthouse in Paris.

The two parliamentary chambers both recently voted the National Assembly in November, the Senate in February on adding abortion rights to the constitution, though in different terms.

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