2024March 2024International NewsEurope

“Mon corps, mon choix”: France makes abortion a constitutional right

Ashley Yomtob

Staff Writer

Embed from Getty Images

On Monday, March 4, 2024, France made history by becoming the first nation to guarantee abortion as a constitutional right. Lawmakers in France passed this revolutionary amendment with a 780-72 vote. According to the BBC, The Palace of Versailles erupted in a standing ovation following the announcement of the results. President Emmanuel Macron described the move as ‘French pride’ that had sent a ‘universal message.’

 Abortion is widely supported across the political spectrum in France, and The Associated Press noted that abortion has been legal in France since 1975. This special vote was hosted at the Palace of Versailles, and CNN reported that prior to the vote “The French Senate and National Assembly each overwhelmingly approved the amendment earlier this year.” Lawmakers were eager to pass legislation to protect reproductive rights in France, as CNN also noted that the vote was an opportunity for “France to send a clear signal of support on reproductive rights, with abortion under threat in the United States, as well as in parts of Europe, like Hungary, where far-right parties have come to power.” 

This was the first amendment of the French constitution since 2008. The Associated Press reported that the measure explicitly explains that “the law determines the conditions by which is exercised the freedom of women to have recourse to an abortion, which is guaranteed.” 

Following the vote that night, the Eiffel Tower was illuminated with the message: “My body, My choice.” Al Jazeera says that “…Macron last year pledged to protect reproductive rights better after the United States Supreme Court in 2022 overturned the half-century-old right to the procedure, leaving it up to individual states to decide.” It is said the French were influenced by the former Yugoslavia who had “a person is free to decide on having children” explicitly protected in its constitution, furthers the Associated Press. Also reported by the Associated Press was a recent poll, which showed French support for abortion rights to be at more than 80 percent. The same poll stated that a majority of people support enshrining abortion protection in the constitution. 

While the nation is a pioneer in protecting women’s rights, there are plenty of entities that oppose this legislation, most notably the Vatican, according to the BBC. It was explained that The Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican body that focuses on issues related to bioethics, said in a statement that “in the era of universal human rights, there can be no ‘right’ to take human life,” according to CNN. Furthermore, a meeting was to be held the following Thursday by French bishops who also reiterated “the church’s opposition to abortion ahead of the vote.” Additionally, it was reported by CNN that Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said before the vote that “lawmakers had a ‘moral debt’ to women who were, in the past, forced to endure illegal abortions and above all, we’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you.” 

France’s vote is also an opportunity to incite new European reforms; as Al Jazeera notes that Neil Datta of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights said France could serve as an example for progressives across Europe. 

On Friday, March 8, a formal ceremony was held on International Women’s Day to celebrate this victory. The Guardian reported that in an emotional speech delivered by President Macron, he proclaimed, “If France has become the only country in the world whose constitution explicitly protects the right to an abortion in all circumstances, we will not rest until this promise is kept throughout the world.”

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share This