The French National Assembly yesterday voted to introduce a “right to abortion” in the French constitution, less than two weeks after thousands of French citizens participated in the Paris March for Life. Source: CNA.
The plan to write access to abortion into France’s constitution was announced by President Emmanuel Macron in October 2023 and reported by French media as a reaction to the United States Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Shortly after the announcement, Archbishop Pierre d’Ornellas of Rennes, the French bishops’ bioethics spokesperson, raised serious concerns in an interview with Vatican News. He noted France would be “practically the only country in the world to have enshrined such a right in our constitution”.
The prelate warned: “What happens when abortion is enshrined in the constitution as a principle? Does this mean that the right to life becomes an exception?”
The archbishop said the abortion rate in France was already “twice as high as in Germany, and I don’t think that enshrining freedom of access to abortion in the constitution will eliminate the fact that it is ‘always a tragedy’”.
As many as 234,000 abortions were registered in France in 2022, 17,000 more than in 2021, and the highest in 30 years, according to official statistics.
The proposed change to the constitution would enshrine a liberté garantie (guaranteed freedom) to abort an unborn child.
None of the major political parties in the French Parliament questioned the “right” to abortion, and the bill received 493 votes for and 30 against.
Following yesterday’s vote in the National Assembly, the French Senate must agree to the exact same wording; that vote is scheduled for the end of February.
The country decriminalised abortion on January 17, 1975. Each year, the Paris March for Life is held on the third Sunday of January, remembering the legislation’s date. This year, 15,000 people attended the march on January 21.
‘Right to abortion’ to be codified in French constitution (By AC Wimmer, CNA)