On the rocky road to enshrining abortion rights in the French constitution

© Christophe Archambault, AFP

The French lower house National Assembly will vote in November on two rival proposals for enshrining abortion rights in the country’s constitution, one drafted by the hard-left France Unbowed party and the other from President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance. But even if one passes, the road ahead is rife with political divisions and complex parliamentary procedures.

French Holocaust survivor and women's rights advocate Simone Veil pushed for a law decriminalising abortion when she served as health minister. The Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Act – which became known as the "Veil Law" – was adopted on January 17, 1975.

But shortly after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in June, the French National Assembly was buzzing with debate on whether the country should enshrine that right into its own constitution.

Two separate amendments, one from France’s hard-left France Unbowed party and the other from President Macron’s Renaissance party, were filed as a result. They will be debated by MPs on November 24 and 28, respectively.

This means that even if one of the texts were to be adopted by the National Assembly, there would still be a long way to go before the right to abortion is included in the constitution.


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