The legacy of abortion legislation in France traces its roots to the groundbreaking “Veil Law” of January 17, 1975, which not only temporarily decriminalized but also regulated abortion. Subsequent legal advancements, notably in 1979, further fortified these provisions. In a significant stride, the 2022 amendment extended the permissible timeframe for abortion from 12 to 14 weeks.
March 8, 2024, marked a further milestone in this domain. The law passed on this historic day embeds into the French Constitution the assured freedom for women to opt for voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG). Its primary aim is to reaffirm the fundamental nature of this liberty within the French context, particularly considering the global decline in abortion rights evident in various nations in Europe and abroad. While the law has received the official seal of the Republic, its publication in the Official Journal is still pending.
The key points of the law include a single article that amends Article 34 of the Constitution, explicitly stating that “The law determines the conditions under which the freedom guaranteed to women to have access to voluntary termination of pregnancy is exercised.”
This amendment aims to prevent any future challenge to this freedom through legislation. With this legislation, France becomes the first country globally to recognize in its Constitution the freedom to access abortion, solely based on women’s judgment. This safeguarded freedom will fall under the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, triggered either directly after the passage of a law or subsequently through a priority question on constitutionality (QPC).
The ceremonial sealing of this law in the Constitution took place at the Ministry of Justice, attended by the President of the Republic, marking the 25th revision of the 1958 Constitution. On this occasion, Emmanuel Macron confirmed his intention to include the “freedom to have recourse” to abortion “in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,” where, in his words, “nothing can be taken for granted and everything must be defended.” “We will wage this battle on our continent, where reactionary forces first and always attack women’s rights before going on to attack the rights of minorities, of all the oppressed, of all freedoms,” declared the Head of State at a public ceremony in the Place Vendôme.
Valentina Maglietta
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