France seeks to enshrine abortion rights in constitution after Roe v Wade reversal

Aurore Berge, head of President Emmaneuel Macron’s party in parliament, said she tabled bill after US ruling

Roe v Wade: Banning abortion won't stop abortion, says Planned Parenthood
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Legislation has been proposed in France seeking to “enshrine the respect for abortion” in the country’s constitution after Roe v Wade was reversed by the US Supreme Court and several states immediately enacted “trigger” laws that make abortion illegal.

Auruore Berge, head of President Emmanuel Macron’s party in the National Assembly, told French radio on Saturday that she’d tabled the bill to counter “fierce opponents” of abortion among France’s far-right National Rally.

Ms Berge called the Supreme Court decision “catastrophic for women around the world,” telling public radio station France Inter: “We must take steps in France today so we do not have any reversal of existing laws tomorrow.”

She said: “Women’s rights are still rights that are fragile and are regularly called into question.

“We don’t change the constitution like we change the law,” she added.

The bill stipulates that “no one can be deprived of the right to willingly interrupt a pregnancy,” AFP reported.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and other leaders expressed support for the constitutional measure in France, which legalised abortion two years after the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision in the US.

"For all women, for human rights, we must set this gain in stone,” Ms Borne wrote on Twitter. “Parliament must be able to unite overwhelmingly over this text.”

President Macron, whose party lost its parliamentary majority this month, has already denounced the Supreme Court’s reversal in the US. His centrist Ensemble coalition, together with the left-wing NUPES alliance, would constitute a majority to solidify abortion rights in the French constitution, however, and supporters were urging other parliamentary groups to join.

Even many political opponents, however, did not seem like they were clamouring to follow suit after millions of Americans were plunged into precarious reproductive health situations on Friday.

While the National Rally has traditionally opposed abortion, the party’s current leader, Marine le Pen, has backed France’s status quo, with a party spokesman telling FranceInfo that she’d never called into question the existing abortion laws.

Other right-wing politicians pointed to the proposed legislation as an attempt to divert attention away from domestic problems.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature, AFP reported; in 2018 and 2019, opposition lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to amend the constitution to include the right to abortion.

“Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress,” AFP reported. “The other option is a referendum.”

In a Twitter post on Friday following the Supreme Court’s decision, President Macron called abortion “a fundamental right for all women.

“It must be protected,” he tweeted.

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