France on Monday made history by becoming the first country in the world to guarantee abortion rights in its constitution, CNN reported.

The initiative was endorsed by legislators from both houses of the French Parliament, with a majority of 780 to 72 in favour, achieving the required three-fifths threshold to amend the French constitution.

Remarkably, after the US Supreme Court in 2022 overturned the Roe v. Wade verdict that acknowledged women’s constitutional right to abortion, a movement was launched in France to explicitly safeguard the right in its fundamental law. The final phase of the parliamentary process was the voting on Monday, which occurred at the Palace of Versailles, southwest of Paris, during a special gathering of lawmakers. The bill was passed with a large majority earlier this year by the French National Assembly and Senate.

According to the amendment, abortion is a “guaranteed freedom” in France. Legislators and certain groups had pushed for tougher wording that would clearly designate abortion as a “right.” Hailed by lawmakers as a historic step, the measure demonstrated France’s unwavering support for reproductive rights at a time when abortion rights are under attack in the US and in regions of Europe like Hungary where far-right parties are gaining ground, according to CNN. 

“My body, my choice” was illuminated on the Eiffel Tower after the results of the vote. Before the vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal stated that MPs owed women who had previously been compelled to undergo illegal abortions a “moral debt.” 

“Above all, we’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you,” Attal said. French President Emmanuel Macron said the government would hold a formal ceremony celebrating the amendment’s passage on Friday, International Women’s Rights Day, CNN reported. 

France first legalized abortion in 1975, after a campaign led by then-Health Minister Simone Veil, an Auschwitz survivor who became one of the country’s most famous feminist icons. 

According to CNN, while abortion is a highly divisive issue in US politics that often falls along party lines, in France it is widely supported. Many of the lawmakers who voted against the amendment did so not because they opposed abortion, but because they felt the measure was unnecessary, given the wide support for reproductive rights.


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