France becomes world’s first country to enshrine abortion rights in constitution

Mar 4, 2024, 11:39 AM

France became the world’s first country to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution on Monday...

France became the world’s first country to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution on Monday. (Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

(Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

PARIS, France (CNN) France became the world’s first country to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution on Monday, the culmination of an effort that began in direct response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Lawmakers from both houses of the French Parliament voted 780 to 72 in favor of the measure, easily clearing the three-fifths majority needed to amend the French constitution.

Monday’s vote, held during a special gathering of lawmakers at the Palace of Versailles, southwest of Paris, was the final step in the legislative process. The French Senate and National Assembly each overwhelmingly approved the amendment earlier this year.

The amendment states that there is a “guaranteed freedom” to abortion in France. Some groups and lawmakers had called for stronger language to explicitly call abortion a “right.”

Lawmakers hailed the move as a history-making way 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.

Lawmakers from both houses of the French Parliament voted on Monday to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution. (Mathilde Kaczkowski/Hans Lucas, AFP/Getty Images)

Following the vote, the Eiffel Tower was lit up with the words “my body my choice.”

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.

“Above all, we’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you,” Attal said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the government would hold a formal ceremony celebrating the amendment’s passage on Friday, International Women’s Rights Day.

France first legalized abortion in 1975, after a campaign led by then-Health Minister Simone Veil, an Auschwitz survivor who became one of the country’s most famous feminist icons.

While abortion is a highly divisive issue in US politics that often falls along party lines, in France it is widely supported. Many of the lawmakers who voted against the amendment did so not because they opposed abortion, but because they felt the measure was unnecessary, given the wide support for reproductive rights.

The measure’s passage is a clear victory for the French left, which has been pushing for years to guarantee abortion rights in the constitution. Before 2022, President Emmanuel Macron’s government argued — like the amendment’s current opponents — that the move was unnecessary.

However, in 2022, when the US Supreme Court ruled against Roe v. Wade and let states individually decide on the issue, France was pushed to act.

French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said perviously, before debate began in the National Assembly in January, that history was full of other examples where “fundamental rights” were believed to be safe but then taken away, “as we were recently reminded by the decision of the US Supreme Court.”

“We now have irrefutable proof that no democracy, not even the largest of them all, is immune,” he said.

The vote marks the 25th time the French government has amended its constitution since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

The Catholic Church was one of the few groups to announce its opposition to the amendment. The Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican body which 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.”

A conference of French bishops on Thursday also reiterated the church’s opposition to abortion ahead of the vote.

CNN’s Joseph Ataman and Christopher Lamb contributed to this report

KSL 5 TV Live

World News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands while meeting i...

Fatima Hussein, Associated Press

G7 leaders agree to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets. Here’s how it will work

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies have agreed to engineer a $50 billion loan to help Ukraine in its fight for survival that would use interest earned on profits from Russia's frozen central bank assets as collateral.

18 hours ago

Delegates from Utah listen to an employee of Carbfix on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Mike Anderson, K...

Mike Anderson

Utah delegation explores Iceland’s example in carbon capture to reduce emissions

A Utah delegation is looking to Iceland to help pave the way for a cleaner energy future for the state. 

24 hours ago

The 2002 Olympic cauldron at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the University of Utah in...

Lisa Riley Roche

Utah is now one vote away from hosting the 2034 Winter Games. Here’s what just happened

Utah’s bid to host the 2034 Winter Games is headed to a final vote by the International Olympic Committee in July.

1 day ago

YEONCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 08:  (SOUTH KOREA OUT) A loudspeaker is seen at a military base ne...

Associated Press

Bizarre psychological warfare using K-pop and trash balloons raises tensions between the 2 Koreas

Day after day, the Cold War-style yet bizarre campaigns continue at the heavily fortified border of the rivals who haven’t had any serious talks for years. Here is a look at the latest flare-up of tensions between the two Koreas.

2 days ago

The 8th largest geothermal plant in the world, Hellisheidi, located in Iceland....

Mike Anderson

Utah is looking to Iceland to map the state’s geothermal potential

A Utah delegation is visiting Iceland to see if the country could help the Beehive State achieve cleaner energy through geothermal energy. 

2 days ago

The Utah delegation taking a tour of a geothermal well in Iceland....

Mike Anderson

Utah delegation studies future geothermal potential in Iceland

More than a dozen Utah leaders visited Iceland to understand better how the country uses geothermal and renewable energy, intending to bring that knowledge to the Beehive State.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

France becomes world’s first country to enshrine abortion rights in constitution