Abortion, a fragile right even in Europe?

Abortion, a fragile right even in France?

This February 28, the spotlight is on the Senate. The debates around the bill aimed at including abortion in the Constitution are being held this Wednesday in the upper house. A historic breakthrough which would, if the bill is adopted, allow the highest legal protection to be granted to this fundamental right of women.

This Wednesday, February 28, the Senate is examining the text of the bill proposed by the government to constitutionalize abortion. A crucial issue to strengthen this fundamental right of women obtained almost 50 years ago, with the promulgation of the Veil law in 1975. But access to abortion remains threatened throughout the world. “For two years, abortion has been a right that has continued to move backwards and forwards around the world, depending on political fluctuations. The most striking and spectacular example is of course that of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in 2022 to repeal the constitutional right to abortion, which in a few months led to the ban on abortion in more than thirteen states of the country”, underlines Floriane Volt, Director of Public and Legal Affairs of the Women’s Foundation. “This shows that everything can change overnight.“, she adds. And Europe is not completely safe from these threats, as proven by the anti-abortion voices which sounded all the louder as the exam approached. of the bill by the Senate. The disinformation and dissuasion campaigns on social networks and the infographic broadcast on Sunday February 25 on CNEWS, presenting abortion as the leading cause of death in the world (the channel apologized the next day) only proved it.

Supported by the government, adopted by a large majority by the deputies of the Assembly and validated by the Law Commission and the Council of State, the project to constitutionalize abortion therefore only awaits the approval of the Senate . The suspense, however, remains at its peak: while its president Gérard Larcher does not hide his firm opposition to the project, the most conservative elected officials in the upper house are jockeying for help, imposing certain amendments. Like Senator LR Philippe Bas, who advocates the deletion of the word “guarantee” for women to have recourse to a voluntary termination of pregnancy, in favor of the term “freedom”. “This notion of guarantee represents the only modification in the text of the bill agreed to by the government, at the request of feminist associations. This notion is fundamental for this inscription to constitute real progress and guarantee no return to the past. Its absence would therefore be very problematic“, deplores Floriane Volt.

For the Women’s Foundation, whose petition in favor of the constitutionalization of abortion published at the beginning of February collected more than 100,000 signatures, “a rebuttal of this project would be all the more nonsense since the inclusion of the right to abortion in the Constitution is widely praised by the public“. According to an Ifop survey published in November 2022, 86% of French people say they are in favor of including the right to constitutionalize abortion.

The examination of the project by the elected representatives of the upper house is all the more crucial as it constitutes the final stretch. If the Senate votes on the text without modification, the holding of a Congress in Versailles at the beginning of next March will represent the final step for the constitutionalization of abortion to become a reality. “If we have learned anything when it comes to abortion, it is that nothing is ever taken for granted. Beyond Europe, this bill represents the first step towards larger international texts, a measure also promoted by the government. But which we cannot achieve without benefiting from the strongest protection within our legal system“, supports Floriane Volt.