France: access to abortion as a constitutional right?

After the National Assembly approved the proposal to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution in January, an overwhelming majority in the French Senate has also voted in favour of the move. The three-fifths majority still required in a joint vote in March is now considered a mere formality. The initiative aims to better protect the right to abortion. The press is at odds over how much sense it makes.

Le Figaro (FR) /

All a marketing ploy

It’s all just show, protests Le Figaro:

“The project for constitutional revision changes absolutely nothing about the existing law, since it simply confirms that it is clearly the legislators’ responsibility to set the conditions under which women can have recourse to abortion, which has always been the case. This is nothing but a PR text for militant neo-feminists who see abortion as the uncrossable limit of their ‘rights’ and dream of seeing the word ‘abortion’ spelt out in the constitution. ... The neo-feminists love to denounce men’s ‘uncalled-for’ statements and gestures. Someone should tell them that inscribing the right to abortion into the constitution is just as uncalled for.”

Anne-Marie Le Pourhiet
taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Protection against fluctuating politics

The France correspondent for taz, Rudolf Balmer, stresses the importance of the constitutional guarantee:

“As in other countries — and it is not only in the US that the achievements of the abortion law are under threat — until now in France there was always a possibility that a legislature with a reactionary majority could restrict or abolish this freedom. This risk has now been ruled out in France, where a dramatic shift to the right cannot be ruled out. ... [The members of parliament] have shown the rest of the world a way to protect women’s rights against the fluctuations of politics. For once, France has lived up to its claim to still be a pioneer of Enlightenment.”

Rudolf Balmer