French lawmakers want abortion rights in constitution

PARIS (AP) – A group of lawmakers belonging to French President Emmanuel Macron’s party will introduce a bill to include abortion rights in the country’s constitution, according to a statement from two lawmakers on Saturday.

The move comes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 50-year ruling and scrapped women’s constitutional protections for abortion.

The right to abortion in France is already enshrined in a 1975 law on voluntary termination of pregnancy within the legal framework that decriminalized abortion.

A constitutional law will strengthen abortion rights for future generations, said Marie-Pierre Rixain, a member of parliament and of Macron’s The Republic on the Move party.

“What happened elsewhere should not happen in France,” Rixain said.

The bill will include a provision that makes it “impossible to deprive a person of the right to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy,” said two members of the National Assembly, France’s most powerful parliament building.

Aurore Berge, the leader of Macron’s party group in parliament, said the US Supreme Court’s decision to repeal abortion rights “is catastrophic for women around the world”.

“We need to take steps in France today so that tomorrow we don’t have a reversal of existing laws,” Berge said in an interview with public radio station France Inter on Saturday.

Macron’s party and his centrist alliance have the most seats in the National Assembly, although it lost its majority in Sunday’s parliamentary election as voters chose far-right and far-left parties.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum are expected to question Macron’s domestic agenda, such as his controversial pension reform.

In a highly polarized political climate, Berge said French lawmakers should not risk fundamental rights, even if they are already enshrined in law.

“Women’s rights are still vulnerable and regularly questioned,” Berge said. She added: “We don’t change the constitution the way we change the law.”

Macron expressed solidarity with women in the United States following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a nearly half-century-old landmark ruling that is likely to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states.

Macron said women’s freedoms would be undermined by the decision. ÔÇťAbortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected,” the French president wrote in a Twitter message late Friday.

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