Internet InfoMedia france enshrines access to abortion in constitution a global first
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Legislators passed an amendment giving women the “guaranteed freedom” to end their pregnancies, which experts called a global first.

French legislators on Monday voted to explicitly enshrine access to abortion in the Constitution, making their country the first in the world to do so.

Acutely aware that they were breaking historical ground from the grand assembly room inside Versailles Palace, the politicians delivered impassioned speeches about women’s rights around the world, paid homage to the courageous Frenchwomen who had fought for abortion rights when it was illegal and leaped up time and again to offer standing ovations.

“We are sending the message to all women: Your body belongs to you and no one has the right to control it in your stead,” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said, before the gathered lawmakers voted 780-72 for the amendment.

The amendment declares abortion to be a “guaranteed freedom,” overseen by Parliament’s laws. That means future governments will not be able to “drastically modify” the current laws funding abortion for women who seek one, up to 14 weeks into their pregnancies, according to the French justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti.

Amending the Constitution is not without precedent in France; the current Constitution has been modified over 20 times since it was adopted in 1958. But it is rare. Lawmakers last amended it in 2008.

The motivation for the latest change was the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, an issue raised repeatedly by legislators. But the move also reflects the widespread support for abortion in France, and a successful campaign by a coalition of feminist activists and lawmakers from multiple parties.

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