Why France's Move To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right Is A Historic Moment For The World

France’s move towards a constitutional law for abortion was prompted by the United States’ decision to overturn Roe v Wade ruling in 2022


Pro-abortion supporters watch a live transmission of the congress session where French lawmakers have approved the bill Photo: AP

France has become the first country in the world to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution after French lawmakers on Monday voted overwhelmingly in favour, in a joint session of Parliament at the Palace of Versailles.

Nearly the entire joint session erupted in a standing ovation as the abortion rights bill got the go ahead with 780 votes in favour and 72 against. Protestors who had gathered in Paris cheered and celebrated as "MyBodyMyChoice" was lit up on the Eiffel Tower following the vote.

"We're sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you," Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told lawmakers before the voting began.


The amendment establishes abortion as a fundamental right, regulated by laws enacted by Parliament. This ensures that future governments cannot make significant changes to the existing laws that fund abortion for women seeking it.

The vote was the last stage in approving the constitutional amendment, following the Senate's approval of the government's proposed law last week and the National Assembly's approval of the change in January.

Yaël Braun-Pivet, the head of the lower house of Parliament, said: "To women in France, we say that we will never roll back (this freedom)".

"To women of the world, we say that we will support you and that we will be at your side," she added.


France’s move towards a constitutional law for abortion was prompted by the United States’ decision to overturn Roe v Wade ruling, which guaranteed abortion rights in America.

“Unfortunately, this event is not isolated: in many countries, even in Europe, there are currents of opinion that seek to hinder at any cost the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancy if they wish,” the French legislation introduction states.

On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court reversed the Roe v. Wade ruling, which made it a federal right for people to get an abortion in the United States. This decision took away 50 years of legal protection for abortion rights and cleared the way for states to create laws which ban or curtail abortion rights.

However, far-right leader Marine Le Pen said President Emmanuel Macron was using the abortion rights  to gain political advantage, noting the strong support for abortion rights in France. "We will vote to include it in the Constitution because we have no problem with that," Le Pen stated before the Versailles vote.

Some experts argued that abortion was already protected by the constitution, citing a 2001 ruling when France's constitutional council said abortion was allowed under the freedoms guaranteed in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man.