France proposes bill to enshrine right to abortion in constitution

French lawmakers have proposed a bill to enshrine the right to abortion in the country’s constitution, two members of parliament said in a statement on Saturday.

The move comes after a historic decision in the United States (USA) that ended nearly five decades of constitutional protections for abortion, allowing states to ban the procedure.

In the USA in 1973 at the Roe vs. Wade’s ruling guaranteed a nationwide right to abortion, although it has long been a source of contention between conservatives and the religious right. Many US states have already moved to ban abortion.

The leader of Macron’s party in parliament on Saturday said she had introduced a law “ensuring respect for abortion in our constitution.”

“Women’s rights are always fragile rights that are regularly threatened,” Aurora Berge told radio station France Inter, describing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the right to abortion as “catastrophic for women around the world.”

“We must take action in France today so that tomorrow we don’t have any changes in the laws in force,” she added.

French citizens already have the right to abortion, enshrined in a 1975 law on the voluntary termination of pregnancy.

The constitutional law will secure the right to abortion for future generations, said Marie-Pierre Ricksen, an MP and a member of Macron’s Republic on the Move party.

“What happened elsewhere should not happen in France,” she continued.

Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne said the government would “strongly” support the bill, echoing support expressed by other ministers.

“For all women, for human rights, we must set this achievement in stone. Parliament should be able to unite with a large majority on this text,” she tweeted.

The left-wing NUPES alliance, which also supports the move, and Macron’s Ensemble coalition together will have an overwhelming majority in favor of such a constitutional change.

The National Rally has long opposed abortion, but current leader Marine Le Pen has since presented herself as a champion of women’s rights and supported the status quo.

Macron has expressed solidarity with women in the United States following the decision to reverse a historic decision that will likely result in a ban on abortion in about half of the states.

Macron said the decision undermined women’s freedoms. “Abortion is the basic right of all women. He needs to be protected,” the French president tweeted late Friday night.

The legal term for terminating a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

In 2018 and 2019, opposition lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to amend the constitution to include the right to abortion.