VIDEO – Abortion in the Constitution: historic victory with the vote of Parliament meeting in Congress at Versailles

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Kenya Nicol

A historic moment on Monday March 4 at the Château de Versailles. 50 years after the Veil law, France guarantees women the freedom to have an abortion. 925 members of parliament met in Congress to officially enshrine abortion in the Constitution, following a final vote. 780 deputies and senators voted in favor, 72 against.

France first country to guarantee “freedom of abortion

The “freedom to have a voluntary interruption of pregnancy” is now enshrined in law. Examined by Congress this afternoon, the inclusion of this reform in the Constitution has just been made official. As expected, an overwhelming majority of votes were in favor of guaranteeing this freedom (780 for and 72 against).

At the end of the day, France becomes the first country in the world to protect the right to abortion in this way, a right that is in retreat in many other countries. “We’ve managed to have this historic moment, and I’m very honored to be the first to have had it voted on in the Assembly,” congratulated the president of the La France insoumise group, Mathilde Panot.

The latter’s text, adopted at the Palais-Bourbon in 2022, referred to the “right” to abortion. After lengthy legal debates, the wording finally evolved into a compromise version in favor of a “guaranteed freedom”, defended by the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, to the less convinced parliamentarians a few months ago.

“A moral debt” to women who have suffered illegal abortions

“When women’s rights are under attack around the world, France rises up and places itself at the vanguard of progress,” wrote Prime Minister Gabriel Attal on X.

“We owe a moral debt to all these women, who have suffered in their flesh as well as in their spirit, sometimes to the point of losing their lives,” declared the Prime Minister at the opening of the Congress in Versailles, to which the 925 deputies and senators were invited.

The Senate, formerly skeptical, has come around in favor of the project.

Other countries had introduced abortion into their fundamental law indirectly, or only in certain specific cases. In France, it is a matter of total freedom.

A few days ago, the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution passed its most delicate stage in Parliament when the Senate voted in favor, following three hours of heated debate.

Even the right and extreme right, historically opposed or politically sceptical

or politically skeptical, ended up voting in favor of the reform. The vote in the Senate, long considered the main obstacle to the project, was particularly striking, with an unexpected gap in votes in a chamber that was still very circumspect a year ago.

“We have shown that we are stronger than they are”.

Opposed to the reform, the three men at the head of the High Assembly: president Gérard Larcher (Les Républicains) and LR and centrist leaders Bruno Retailleau and Hervé Marseille were thus decried within their ranks.

“We’ve shown that we’re stronger than they are”, rejoiced ecologist Mélanie Vogel, in the front line on this reform in the Senate. “The Senate, including the senatorial right, is not impervious to the country”, Laurence Rossignol congratulated herself, while the constitutionalization of abortion is supported by more than 80% of the French according to several polls.

Entrenched in the marble of the Constitution, Article 34

The official text includes the “guaranteed freedom” of women to have an abortion, in a compromise wording. Today, the freedom to have an abortion, voted for by both houses, is enshrined in the marble of the Constitution in Article 34, with the following sentence: “The law determines the conditions in which the freedom guaranteed to women to have recourse to a voluntary interruption of pregnancy is exercised”.

Parliament meets in Congress at the Château de Versailles

The session took place in the Midi wing of the Château de Versailles. Yaël Braun-Pivet, President of the French National Assembly, kicked off the session at 3:30pm on Monday.

Representatives of the political groups took to the rostrum, alternating between groups from the Assembly (there are ten) and the Senate (eight), “in descending order of their respective numbers”.

The representatives each had five minutes to explain their group’s position. Their position was for or against the inclusion in the Constitution of a “guaranteed freedom” to have an abortion. After voting in adjoining rooms, the results were announced at around 6.45pm.

The event was exceptionally broadcast on a giant screen on the Trocadero square in Paris. The Women’s Foundation organized a meeting there, at 4pm, to witness this exceptional event that “feminist activists the world over are watching with admiration”, says Anne-Cécile Mailfert, President of the Women’s Foundation, “We dedicate this victory to them”, she adds.

Official ceremony on March 8, International Women’s Rights Day

After the vote, the adopted text was authenticated by a Congressional seal, as is tradition. It is affixed by an imposing device in the form of a screw balance, before being transmitted to the government.

A final ceremony for the sealing of the Constitution by the Keeper of the Seals will normally take place on March 8, International Women’s Rights Day, in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron.

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