France proposes bill to enshrine right to abortion in constitution

The government has said it will ‘strongly support’ the measure, which comes in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US

The French government is supporting a bill looking to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution
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France’s government has said that it will “strongly support” a bill aimed at enshrining the right to abortion in the French Constitution, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US.

Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has said that she will back the bill, which is to be put forward by the Renaissance (formerly La République en Marche) group. The left-wing Nupes alliance has also said that it wants to discuss the creation of such a law.

“The government will strongly support this bill,” Ms Borne tweeted. “For all women, for human rights, we must set this gain set in stone.”

The US Supreme Court issued a ruling on Friday (June 24), which overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade judgement that decided that the Constitution protected a woman’s freedom to opt for an abortion.

Friday’s ruling effectively ended the constitutional right to abortion, enabling individual states to impose their own laws on pregnancy terminations. Several immediately enacted ‘trigger laws’ designed to ban abortions as soon as the federal right to them was removed.

President of the Renaissance parliamentary group, Aurore Bergé, who is one of the MPs to propose the bill, has said that the US Supreme Court’s decision is “catastrophic for women in the world.

“You have a woman dying every nine minutes because an abortion has been carried out wrongly, in an unsafe manner,” she told France Inter.

“This compels us in France to take measures which prevent us from having a potential u-turn in the future,” she added.

“Unfortunately, nothing is impossible and women’s rights are always fragile rights, regularly thrown into question.”

Rassemblement National MPs ‘fierce opponents’ to abortion?

Ms Bergé has also said that MPs from the far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party are “fierce opponents” to abortion and that the government should “take no risks” and secure the right.

Le Front National – the name of the party before it became RN – had been anti-abortion under the leadership of Marine Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen and then Ms Le Pen herself.

In 2011, Ms Le Pen said she was in favour of stopping the reimbursement of abortions, but later shifted her stance to the status quo and said she was in support of a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

In response to Ms Bergé’s recent claims, Ms Le Pen tweeted that Renaissance / La République en Marche should remember that many of its MPs had voted against a similar bill calling for the inclusion of abortion rights in the Constitution in 2018.

Ms Bergé has said that she hopes the proposals of this new bill will be “widely shared within the Assemblée nationale and the Senate.”

Changes to the French Constitution normally need to receive approval from the Assemblée nationale and the Senate and then be put to a referendum.

If the change has been proposed by the government, it can also be passed with a three-fifths supermajority of the French Congress: a joint session of both Houses of Parliament.

MoDem MP questions ‘utility’ of the bill

François Bayrou, the leader of the Mouvement Démocrate party, which forms part of President Emmanuel Macron’s parliamentary Ensemble ! alliance, has questioned the “utility” of the bill.

“In the situation in which the country finds itself, with all the issues that we have before us, is it right, useful, to do this while no political movement is putting the Loi Veil [making abortion legal in France] in question?” he asked during a BFMTV interview.

This stance clashes with the majority view within the government.

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