President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday that his government will introduce legislation this week to enshrine the “freedom” to have an abortion into the French Constitution.
Vowing to introduce legislation this week with the hopes of presenting a bill to the Council of Ministers by the end of the year, President Macron declared on social media on Sunday: “In 2024, the freedom of women to have an abortion will be irreversible.”
Macron first committed to include abortion access in the Constitution on March 8th, which marks the communist holiday International Women’s Day.
The initial announcement from the neo-liberal head of state came in response to the decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the power of setting laws on abortions to the states rather than at the federal level.
Macron said earlier this month: “I expressed my wish, on March 8, that we could find a text agreeing the points of view between the National Assembly and the Senate and allowing a Congress to be convened in Versailles… I hope that this work of bringing together points of view will resume and be completed as soon as possible.”
Fondé sur le travail des parlementaires et des associations, le projet de loi constitutionnelle sera envoyé au Conseil d'État cette semaine et présenté en Conseil des ministres d’ici la fin de l'année.
En 2024, la liberté des femmes de recourir à l'IVG sera irréversible. https://t.co/4uSoIJu310
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 29, 2023
Although the inclusion of the “freedom” to have an abortion would likely have minimal impact on the current legal status of abortion in the country, with the practice already being legal, it could serve as an impediment to future governments seeking to enact restrictions or place limits on abortions.
There was some debate within the government about the specific language of the amendment, with some demanding that the text guarantee the “right” to an abortion.
The government ultimately decided to propose a “freedom of abortion”, however, the Élysée claimed that it is essentially a distinction without a difference given that the Constitution permits “the same constitutional guarantee” to rights and freedoms.
The proposal seems to have widespread support in the European country, with nearly nine in ten French people (86 per cent) expressing a positive opinion of adding abortion access to the Constitution according to a survey from last year.
In 2022, the number of abortions in France increased to its highest level since 1990, with 234,300 pregnancies being voluntarily terminated, an increase of 17,000 over the previous year.
At present, elective abortions are legal in France up until 14 weeks, after which two physicians are required to affirm that the procedure is necessary for the health of the mother or if they determine that the child will suffer from an incurable ailment.