On International Women’s Day, France Becomes First Country To Constitutionally Protect Right To Abortion

New Delhi: The French leadership used a Napoleon-era press to enshrine the right to abortion in the country’s constitution during a historic ceremony on Friday. This event, open to the public, is strategically planned on International Women’s Day to demonstrate solidarity with women worldwide. 

President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said he wanted to enshrine the right to terminate a pregnancy not just in France’s constitution but also in the European Union’s basic law, news agency AFP reported.

Macron declared that France would persist until the right to abortion, now enshrined in the French constitution—a global first—is ensured in the EU’s rights charter and across the globe, as per AFP.

Speaking as a constitutional amendment sealing the right to abortion was ceremonially enacted with hot wax, Macron underscored the significance of the occasion, which coincided with International Women’s Day.

“With this amendment, France becomes the first country in the world to constitutionally protect the right to abortion in all circumstances,” Macron proclaimed in front of the justice ministry in central Paris’s Place Vendome, as quoted by AFP.

He further emphasised, “However, our efforts will continue until this commitment is upheld universally.”

While abortion is a deeply divisive issue in the United States, it’s legal in nearly all of Europe and overwhelmingly supported in France. In France, abortion is perceived more as a matter of public health rather than politics. French legislators approved a constitutional amendment on Monday with a decisive 780-72 vote, even gaining backing from some far-right lawmakers. 

Friday’s ceremony, held on the cobblestones of Vendome Plaza in Paris, is a key event on a day focused on advancing women’s rights globally. This event is part of a broader movement encompassing marches, protests, and conferences held from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Mexico City and beyond, as per AP.

The French constitutional amendment has received praise from women’s rights advocates worldwide, particularly in regions where women face challenges accessing birth control or maternal health care. 

Critics Of President Macron Questioned His Pursuit Of Abortion Measure

Critics of President Macron have questioned his pursuit of the abortion measure in a country where abortion rights are not under immediate threat, but where women confront numerous other challenges. France grapples with persistently high rates of domestic violence against women, as well as obstacles in prosecuting sexual abuse cases involving powerful figures such as celebrities, as per AP.

Disparities in pay and pensions persist, particularly affecting non-white women. Macron’s government has defended the abortion amendment as a preventative measure, aimed at averting a scenario akin to the United States, where hard-right groups are gaining traction and seeking to roll back freedoms across Europe.

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