Macron’s push For abortion In Constitution: A feminist Win

On the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day on Tuesday March 8, the President of the Republic announced a bill to “engrave the freedom” to resort to abortion in the Constitution. An announcement hailed by feminist associations.

“I want today that the strength of this message help us to change our Constitution in order to engrave the freedom of women to resort to voluntary termination of pregnancy, to solemnly assure that nothing can hinder or undo what will thus be irreversible “, declared Emmanuel Macron during a tribute to the lawyer and feminist activist Gisèle Halimi, who died on July 28, 2020, who notably fought to defend the right to abortion in France.

“This announcement is a victory for feminist associations,” said the Women’s Foundation in a press release, which points out that 80% of French women and men are in favor of this bill.

“Feminists around the world are watching France,” wrote Family Planning in a tweet.

According to Mr. Macron, the draft constitutional law should arrive “in the coming months”.

Beyond a strong symbolism, enshrining the right to abortion in the Constitution would guarantee access to abortion regardless of the political majority in power.

“It [l’annonce du president, NDLR] secures this right for the years to come and the women of tomorrow. Without access to free and safe abortion, there is no equality between men and women,” the Women’s Foundation statement read.

“What is permitted by law can be undone by another law. We must reaffirm the protection we want to give to abortion,” France Insoumise (LFI) MP Mathilde Panot told EURACTIV last January.

On Wednesday, February 1, the Senate gave the green light to the constitutionalization of abortion. The text must now be examined in the National Assembly so that the two chambers agree on the same text.

A First in Europe

If the project is successful, France would be the first country in Europe and in the world to constitutionalize this right.

If in Europe, abortion is legal almost everywhere, several “barriers” and “specific restrictions” are still in place in certain countries, underlined last June a press release from 70 associations for the defense of women’s rights.

In Malta, for example, abortion is totally prohibited and women who resort to it risk up to 3 years in prison. As for the doctors who practice it, they incur a 4-year prison sentence and a ban on practicing.

Since last September, Hungary has required women who wish to have an abortion to “listen to the heartbeat of the fetus”.

Poland, for its part, has very strongly restricted access to abortion: since January 2021, abortion has been virtually prohibited unless the mother is in danger or if the pregnancy results from rape.

Back to Paris where earlier this Tuesday, March 8, the European Affairs Committee of the National Assembly issued a positive opinion on the inclusion of the right to abortion in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Only the far-right deputies of the National Rally did not speak because they were absent during the vote.

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