France Prepares to Enshrine Constitutional Right to Abortion

French legislators are expected to pass a measure on Monday that would make France the first country in the world to explicitly enshrine access to abortion in its Constitution.

The constitutional amendment requires three-fifths approval of gathered lawmakers from both houses of Parliament to pass. But since 90 percent of lawmakers supported the measure in earlier votes, the vote is widely seen as a formality before a celebration in the regal setting of Versailles Palace, where the joint session of Parliament is being held.

The amendment would declare abortion a “guaranteed freedom” overseen by Parliament’s laws. That means future governments would not be able to “drastically modify” current laws funding abortion for women who want it, up to 14 weeks in their pregnancies, according to the French justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti.

The impulse for the change was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022. But it also reflects the widespread support for abortion in France, built over years, and a successful campaign by a coalition of feminist activists and lawmakers.

“We are saying today, we don’t envisage a democratic society without the right to abortion — that it’s not an accessory, it’s the core of our society,” said Mélanie Vogel, a senator from the Green Party who was a major force behind the bill. “We are not France anymore without the right to abortion.”

Speaking in an interview, Ms. Vogel said, “I want to send a message to feminists outside of France. Everyone told me a year ago it was impossible.” She added: “Nothing is impossible when you mobilize society.”

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