Emmanuel Macron Pledges To Make Abortion A Basic Right In Europe

Abortion has been legal in France since 1975.


French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said France would not rest until the right to abortion, now protected by the French constitution in a world first, was guaranteed in the EU’s rights charter and around the globe.

Macron spoke as hot wax was sealed to a constitutional amendment to formerly inscribe the right to abortion.

The ceremony on International Woman’s Day came after parliament gave its final assent earlier this week.

“France today becomes the only country worldwide whose constitution explicitly protects the right to abortion in all circumstances,” Macron said in front of the justice ministry in the Place Vendome in central Paris.

But “we will not rest until this promise is held everywhere in the world.”

Abortion has been legal in France since 1975, but Macron last year pledged to better protect it after the US Supreme Court in 2022 overturned the United State’s half-century-old right to the procedure, leaving it up to individual states to decide.

In a historic vote, a rare congress of both houses of France’s parliament on Monday gave a green light towards making terminating a pregnancy a “guaranteed freedom” in the basic text, sparking celebration among feminists.

“Today is not the end of the story. It’s the start of a fight,” Macron said.

In Europe, “nothing is set in stone any longer and everything has to be defended,” he said, alluding to “reactionary forces” in other parts of the continent.

“This is why I wish for this guaranteed freedom to resort to an abortion to be inscribed in the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights,” he said.

The sealing ceremony came a year to the day after the president promised to constitutionalise the right.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti turned the handle of a 300-kilo (660-pound) 19th century press to stamp a green wax seal on a ribbon attached to the official amendment document.

The sealing is a purely ceremonial procedure, and the amendment will only come into force after its publication in the “Journal Officiel” of new laws.

‘Serve as an example’

The constitutional change has been backed by most of the French public, even if some conservatives remain against it, arguing it’s not a constitutional issue.

No country had so far as clearly safeguarded the right to a pregnancy termination in its basic text, according to Leah Hoctor, of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Some countries allude to the right, while others explicitly mention abortion, but only in certain circumstances.

Neil Datta, of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, said the French move sent a strong signal.

It “could give momentum to improving abortion legislation, just as the reversal of Roe v. Wade in the United States gave some to anti-abortion groups worldwide,” he said.

France “could serve as an example for progressives in all countries of Europe and beyond to define a course,” he said.

Even without amending the constitution, “they could… improve their legislation.”

National Assembly speaker Yael Braun-Pivet — the first woman in the post — read out the result of Monday’s historic vote, with 780 lawmakers in favour and 72 voting against.

More than 20 of her fellow women parliament speakers from around the world were also in Paris to attend the ceremony.

The last time the seal was used was in 2008, when lawmakers only just approved wide-sweeping amendments under former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Those changes included limiting a president’s time in office to two terms, as well as better safeguards for press independence and freedom.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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