The challenge of enshrining abortion rights in the French constitution

Issued on: 10/03/2023

During a speech given on International Woman’s Day, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision to put forward a bill enshrining abortion rights in the country's constitution. Despite being lauded by women’s rights groups, changing the constitution may be more difficult than it appears.

Perhaps in an attempt to divert attention from the backlash his government is facing over the recent pension reform proposal, Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, March 8 announced his intention to cement abortion rights in the French constitution as he paid tribute to feminist activist Gisèle Halimi, who greatly influenced the passing in 1975 of the Veil Act granting women the right to abortion and contraception.


Macron says will put right to abortion in French constitution in ‘coming months’

Issued on: 08/03/2023

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday his government would put forward a draft law enshrining abortion rights in the French constitution within months.

In a speech paying tribute to the late Gisele Halimi, a feminist activist and pioneer for reproductive rights, Macron said an amendment to the constitution would be submitted to parliament.


France a step closer to adding abortion rights to constitution

Issued on: 02/02/2023
Text by: RFI

The French Senate has voted to include the right to abortion in the constitution, allowing the process to continue, though the path to a constitutional amendment is long.

After much debate, the Senate voted on Wednesday in favour of including the right to abortion in the constitution. With 166 votes for and 152 against, the chamber approved a bill introduced by lawmakers in the National Assembly from the hard-left France Unbowed, with support from the presidential majority.


The Father of the Abortion Pill

The 96-year-old scientist who came up with an idea for an “unpregnancy pill” decades ago has led an eventful life, from his teenage days in the French Resistance to his friendships with famous artists.

By Pam Belluck
Jan. 17, 2023

When the idea struck him, nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Étienne-Émile Baulieu believed it could be revolutionary. Creating a pill that could abort a pregnancy would transform reproductive health care, he thought, allowing women to avoid surgery, act earlier and carry out their decisions in private.

“When science meets women’s cause, it is irresistible,” Dr. Baulieu, 96, a French endocrinologist and biochemist often called the father of the abortion pill, said on a recent Sunday afternoon in his apartment in a century-old building a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.


France offers free condoms to young people and free emergency contraception to all women

Inke Kappeler and Joseph Ataman, CNN
Published Jan. 2, 2023

Free condoms are now available to young people under the age of 26 at French pharmacies as part of what French President Emmanuel Macron has called "a small revolution in preventative healthcare."

The new health strategy, which aims to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among young people in France, came into place on New Year's Day and was announced by Macron in December. It was initially aimed at those aged 18-25, but was later extended to minors.


Should abortion rights be enshrined in the French constitution?

Dec 15, 2022

Video: 6:18 minutes

In this week's French Connections, Genie Godula and French Connections take a closer look at what French law says about abortion and contraception, in light of some new developments. Recently, the government made contraception and condoms completely free for anyone under the age of 26. Meanwhile, the morning-after pill has become free for all women. With abortion rights moving backwards in the US, Poland and Hungary, there have been calls to enshrine these rights in the French constitution. But while a majority of French people support the idea, changing the constitution is a complex affair.


France to make condoms free for those 25 and younger amid rise of STIs

Several other European countries offer free or subsidized contraception

The Associated Press
Dec 09, 2022

France will make condoms free in pharmacies for anyone up to age 25 in the new year, President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday.

The move comes as the government says sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise among young people, and as this year's exceptional inflation is cutting especially deeply into the budgets of France's poorest residents.


As France Moves To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right, Here’s Looking Back At Global Laws Governing Pregnancy Termination

In many countries, women continue to have limited autonomy on decisions relating to their reproductive health. Here are some of the countries that evolved into legalising abortions and some others that continue to ban and restrict abortions.

Laxmi Mohan Kumar
3 Dec 2022

 Abortion continues to be a highly debated topic within legislative and public circles worldwide. The process is either banned entirely or permitted with certain restrictions in a few places. On the larger space, it continues to be isolated from being identified as a constitutional right for women.

Even within the largest democracies of the world, women's rights are being discussed around a table dominated by male representatives who have often strongly voiced against legalising abortions.


French vote for right to abortion in constitution

Nov 25, 2022
By Paul Kirby, BBC News

France's National Assembly has backed a bid to enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution, prompted largely by increased restrictions elsewhere. Lawmakers voted by a large majority to include a clause guaranteeing "the effectiveness and equal access to the right to end pregnancy voluntarily".

Left-wing MP Mathilde Panot, who is behind the change, said it was to protect against the "backsliding" seen in the US and Poland. But the bill will face a tough passage.


France moves closer to making abortion a constitutional right

Lower house approves resolution to guarantee access to ‘the right to voluntarily end a pregnancy’

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Thu 24 Nov 2022

France has moved a step closer to becoming the first country in the world to enshrine abortion as a constitutional right, after lawmakers approved a resolution in the lower house to guarantee access to “the right to voluntarily end a pregnancy”.

In a rare cross-party move, members of parliament from the left’s La France Insoumise party and Emmanuel Macron’s centrist coalition agreed on the wording of a clause that could be added to the constitution. It read: “The law guarantees the effectiveness and equal access to the right to voluntarily end a pregnancy.”