NewsFrance becomes first nation to constitutionally guarantee abortion rights

France becomes first nation to constitutionally guarantee abortion rights

Pro-abortion activists during the vote on changing the constitution
Pro-abortion activists during the vote on changing the constitution

2:39 PM EST, March 4, 2024

With this move, France becomes the first nation globally to anchor the right to terminate pregnancies within its core legal framework.

This milestone follows a promise made by President Emmanuel Macron last year, prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the nationwide right to abortion. This historic reversal allowed individual states to dictate their abortion regulations.

France has allowed abortion since 1975, following a political movement that began in 1971.

“We could never have imagined that the right to abortion would one day be inscribed into the constitution,” expressed Claudine Monteil, leader of the "Women in the World" association, during an AFP interview.

Monteil, a pioneering medic in the “Manifesto 343” — a 1971 French petition signed by 343 women confessing to illegal abortions — highlighted the unforeseen progress.

A wake-up call

Simone de Beauvoir, the renowned feminist, once cautioned Monteil, "A political, economic, or religious crisis is all it takes for women's rights to come under scrutiny." The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling served as a wake-up call for women worldwide.

Leah Hoctor from the Center for Reproductive Rights noted that France's constitutional amendment could represent "the first of its kind — a clear, broad constitutional provision not only in Europe but also globally."

Global abortion rights landscape

In Chile, an attempt to enshrine planned abortion in the progressive 2022 constitution was turned down via referendum. In contrast, Cuba's constitution vaguely assures "reproductive and sexual rights" for women.

Several Balkan nations retain constitutions from the former Yugoslavia that recognize "deciding about the birth of children" as a fundamental human right.

In Kenya, abortion is illegal unless a healthcare professional deems it necessary for immediate treatment, the mother's life or health is in jeopardy, or another law permits it.

A November 2022 poll showed that 86 percent of French citizens support the inclusion of abortion rights in the constitution.

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