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“French Parliament Overwhelmingly Approves Constitutional Enshrinement of Abortion Rights”

In a historic move, French lawmakers on Monday overwhelmingly endorsed a bill to constitutionally guarantee abortion rights, making France the sole country explicitly ensuring a woman’s right to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy. The proposal, championed by President Emmanuel Macron, aims to safeguard against the erosion of abortion rights witnessed in the United States, receiving a resounding 780-72 approval in a special joint session of France’s parliament at the Palace of Versailles.

The parliamentary session witnessed jubilant scenes and a standing ovation among lawmakers, with the measure enjoying widespread support across the political spectrum in France, where abortion has been legal since 1975. Female legislators smiled broadly as they celebrated the historic moment, contrasting a small group of protesters outside the session.

The French constitutional amendment specifies that “the law determines the conditions by which is exercised the freedom of women to have recourse to an abortion, which is guaranteed.” This move is regarded as a significant step beyond previous constitutional provisions, going beyond the former Yugoslavia’s stance on deciding on having children.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal urged the more than 900 gathered lawmakers to position France as a global leader in women’s rights. In a poignant address, he paid homage to Simone Veil, a key feminist and legislator who championed the 1975 bill that decriminalized abortion in France.

Support for abortion rights among the French public exceeds 80%, according to recent polls, with a majority favoring its constitutional enshrinement. Major political parties, including Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party and the conservative Republicans, did not question the right to abortion, ensuring widespread support for the bill.

While a group of anti-abortion protesters gathered in Versailles, a larger assembly of women’s rights activists celebrated at Trocadero Plaza, expressing joy at the voting results. The government’s argument for the bill underscored the perceived threat to abortion rights, citing the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a 50-year-old ruling.

The approved amendment to the French Constitution will be officially inscribed at a public ceremony on International Women’s Day at Vendome Plaza in Paris, marking a rare event in the nation’s constitutional history. The move is hailed as a victory for feminists and a step towards securing women’s rights to abortion in France.

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