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By Lawmakers Of The Lower House

France recently protected women’s Right to Abortion, constitutionally; as the French lawmakers voted to enshrine Abortion Rights in the Constitution on November 24 (2022). On the occasion, members of the National Assembly (the Lower House of the French Parliament) on the Left and Centre said that the US Supreme Court‘s overturning of a landmark ruling in June showed the need for new steps. The local media reported that 337 lawmakers approved the Bill, enshrining Abortion Rights in the Constitution; while only 32 members voted against the move.

Poland and the US recently refused to liberalise abortion. In June, the Polish Parliament rejected a Bill that would have liberalised the country’s Abortion Law. It may be noted that Poland is one of the strictest countries in Europe as far as abortion is concerned, as it allows terminations on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. A majority of 265 Parliamentarians in the 460-seat Sejm (the Lower House of the bicameral Parliament of Poland) voted to reject the legislation. That included almost all members of the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) Party’s caucus, as well as the centre-right Polish Coalition (KP) and far-right Confederation (Konfederacja), both of which are in Opposition. Most of the 175 votes in favour of accepting the Bill for further work following its first reading came from the centrist Civic Coalition (KO) and the Left (Lewica), the two largest Opposition groups. The six MPs from Poland 2050 (Polska 2050), another centrist party, were split, with two voting to reject the Bill and four to accept it.

The Right to Abortion has been recognised by law in France since 1975. As a result of the passage of the proposal in the Parliament on November 24, the Right would be firmly enshrined in the Constitution. Nothing can take away this Right in any way. After the Bill was passed, Left-wing Parliamentarian Mathilde Panot stated that it was to protect against the “backsliding” seen in the US and Poland. She also dedicated the vote to women in the US, Poland and Hungary, stressing: “I am very moved by both this vote and the historic signal that the National Assembly has sent to all the women of our country, but also to all the women of the world.

Earlier, Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, had said: “Abortion is a Fundamental Right for all women. It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

It may be noted that the November 24 vote was only the initial step of a lengthy process without a guaranteed result. The conservative Republicans have a majority in the Senate, which rejected a similar Bill in September. The Republican senators argued that the measure was not required since the Right to Abortion was not under threat in France. However, Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti expressed hope that some Senators could change their mind and form a majority in favour. He and other proponents of constitutional change further argued that French lawmakers should not take any chances on Fundamental Rights, as it is easier to change the Law than the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the Right to Abortion enjoys broad support across France, as Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, too, went on to back such a move. Yet Le Pen has said in recent times she is opposed to the Leftist proposal because she believes it could potentially lead to extending or abolishing the time limit at which a pregnancy can be terminated.

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