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The right to abortion will be enshrined in the French constitution

The right to access abortion will soon be enshrined in the French Constitution. The Senate has just approved a law based on a 2022 initiative by Mélanie Vogel, French Green senator and co-chair of the European Green Party (EGP). 

It is the first time in world history that the right to abortion is written into the constitution of a country. The European Greens want to go further and guarantee access to abortion across the European Union. 

Senator and EGP co-chair Mélanie Vogel (Les Écologistes, EELV)The threats to abortion all over Europe, as well as the overturning of Roe vs Wade by the US Supreme Court in June 2022 was a wake-up call. We don’t want this right to be taken away from us like women in America, Poland, Hungary and so many others around the world. Today we send a strong message to Europe and to the world: Abortion right is a fundamental right, it is one of the conditions for us to live in a free and democratic society, and for this reason, we must solemnly commit to never attack or threaten it”.

The European Greens want to go further, and ensure the access to safe abortion across the EU. The Extended Congress of the European Greens adopted the call for the right to access safe abortion to be extended across the EU in its 2024 elections Manifesto, called “Courage to Change”, on 4 February 2023 in Lyon, France. 

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Mélanie Vogel said: “This victory in France is a starting point, only made possible because of the massive mobilisation across society. I am sure that thanks to feminists’ mobilisation, other countries will follow.  As Greens, we want sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the right to safe abortion, to become fundamental rights across all of Europe. They should belong in the EU treaties and in the directly applicable Charter of Fundamental Rights”.

Background

  • Since the overruling of Roe vs Wade, 14 US states have banned voluntary termination of pregnancy on their territory. The right is also under attack in some European Member States.
  • In 2022, Hungary’s government tightened its abortion rules, which will make the process of pursuing a termination more bureaucratic for pregnant women.
  • In 2020 a Polish court controlled by loyalists of the far-right Law and Justice (PiS/ECR) government outlawed almost all abortions. The new Polish government, of which the Greens are part of, has as a priority to ease Poland’s near-total abortion ban. 

Chronology of the proposal

  • Mélanie Vogel first presented a proposal for a constitutional law in September 2022. The proposal was first rejected in a noticeably tight vote in October 2022.
  • The bill was then taken up in the National Assembly who adopted it in November 2022. The Senate voted on an amended version of it in February 2023.
  • In March 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron took up the idea and eventually proposed a law in December 2023. In January 2024 the Assemblee Nationale adopted it. This is the text that has been approved by the Senate today.
  • The constitutional reform will be voted on by the Congress, French Lower and Upper Houses together, in Versailles on the 4th of March. 

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