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France Become the First to Protect Women’s Right to Choose

Huge Step Forward for Women’s Reproductive Rights in France

By: Ava Bowers

Monumental moment for women’s and human rights in France and for the world this International Women’s Day, as France makes abortion a constitutional right.  

An overwhelming majority of French legislators approved the addition to their Constitution on Monday 4th March 2024, with voting results at 780-72. Adding abortion to their constitution guarantees women’s freedom to choose to have an abortion and is an additional protection to France’s decriminalisation of abortion in 1975.  

Image by Emma Guliani from Pexels

The law in France since 1975 and the Constitution now protects women’s right to get an abortion up to 14 weeks into their pregnancy. As much as this is a phenomenal feat for women’s rights, they are still very limited to a short period of time to get an abortion. France has one of the shortest periods for women to get an abortion, for example in the UK women can get an abortion up to 24 weeks.

Perhaps we should take a win where we can in light of the recent restrictions on abortion in the United States where women and doctors can be charged with a criminal offence for getting or performing abortions in some States. In certain countries in Europe, abortion is becoming more restricted too, including Poland and Hungary.

Christopher Weissberg, an MP who supports President Macron, stated that adding abortion to the constitution was a way of “uniting against conservatives and reactionaries” and was a way of showing France as a progressive nation.

President of the National Assembly from Macron’s Renaissance party, Yael Braun-Pivet stated “To the women of France, we say that we will never step backward. To the women of the world, we say that we will support them, and we will always move forward by their side.”

Reproductive rights have been widely supported within France for years but adding abortion to the Constitution created the need for important discussions amongst the far right and conservatives. There didn’t seem to be much need for abortion to be added to the Constitution due to abortion already being legal. However, after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade in 2022, Macron’s government were incentivised to push for abortion to be completely protected. Of course, the win for France hasn’t come without some anti-abortion groups rearing their heads or even disapproval from the Vatican.

Mathilde Panot of the left-wing Unbowed France group argued that the only reason Macron pushed for the constitutional change was due to the efforts already made by feminist groups and organisations. The success of this change can also be due to France taking advantage of public support due to what was happening in America. Without these factors the change in the French Constitution may not have been possible.

The increase in support within far-right parties throughout the world leaves women’s reproductive rights at risk. France taking the leap to solidify this right speaks to their drive to protect women. Those who disagree with the right to abort a foetus forget that they are not being made to have an abortion because of this law, they are simply being given an additional option.


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