". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


France Becomes First Nation to Enshrine Constitutional ‘Right’ to Abortion

March 5, 2024

France has become the first country to enshrine a right to abortion in its constitution. In a joint session of Parliament on Monday, French lawmakers voted 780 to 72 to constitutionally guarantee “the freedom of women to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy…”

President of the French National Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet said that the historic vote was a message to “the women of the world,” adding, “We are saying that we will support them and that we will always be at their side.” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal reiterated this sentiment, saying, “We’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you.” After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to make abortion a constitutional right.

The constitutional amendment has been sharply criticized by pro-lifers across France, with many pointing out that abortion has not been restricted or threatened since it was decriminalized in 1975. Marine Le Pen of the National Rally, Macron’s chief political opponent, claimed that the president was using the amendment as a political ploy, noting that “no one is putting the right to abortion at risk in France.”

Pascale Moriniere, president of the Association of Catholic Families, called Monday’s vote “a defeat for women, and, of course, for all the children who cannot see the day.” She said that French legislators “imported a debate that is not French, since the United States was first to remove that from law with the repeal of ‘Roe v. Wade,’” largely at the behest of pro-abortion lobbyists and activists. “There was an effect of panic from feminist movements, which wished to engrave this on the marble of the constitution.”

France’s Catholic bishops also condemned the move, calling for a day of prayer on Monday ahead of the vote. They urged, “Above all, let us pray that our fellow citizens will rediscover the taste for life, for giving it, for receiving it, for accompanying it, for having and raising children.” In a statement, the bishops wrote, “Our country would have honored itself by instead promoting the rights of women and children. Of all European countries, even Western Europe, France is the only one where the number of abortions is not decreasing and has even increased over the last two years.” They continued, “As Catholics, we will always have to remain servants of the life of each and every one, from conception to death, artisans of respect for every human being which is always a gift given to all others…”

The Vatican also denounced the new constitutional amendment, insisting that “in the era of universal human rights, there cannot be a ‘right’ to taking a human life.” Pope Francis clarified that “the defense of life is not an ideology, it is a reality, a human reality that involves all Christians, precisely because they are Christian and because they are human.”

In comments to The Washington Stand, author and historian Charles Coulombe said of the constitutional amendment’s passage, “Bereft of an enemy against whom they could be judged, the empowered generation of ‘68 has been able to display what they are, although their philosophical origin is much older. Feeling their age, and fearing a possible reaction, they are trying to institutionalize as much damage as they can before they die.” He added, “This phenomenon is present in Church, State, and general culture alike.”

Currently, abortion is available on demand in France up until 14 weeks of pregnancy, after which point two physicians must certify that carrying an unborn child to term would pose a risk to the mother’s life, health, or mental health, or that the unborn child has an incurable illness or genetic condition, such as Down syndrome. The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation estimates that “96% of unborn children with Down syndrome are victims of abortion.” Since 2001, French minors have been legally allowed to obtain abortions without parental consent or knowledge, and since 2015, there has been no mandatory waiting period before obtaining an abortion.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.