Green light from the Senate to include the “freedom” to resort to abortion in the Constitution
The Senate on Wednesday gave the green light to the inclusion of “women’s freedom” to resort to abortion in the Constitution. The notion of “right” wanted by the left has been abandoned by the upper house dominated by the right, but the parliamentary shuttle can continue.
The Senate, the upper house of the French Parliament dominated by the right, voted on Wednesday February 1 for the inclusion in the Constitution of the “freedom of women” to resort to abortion. The notion of “right”, desired by the left, has been abandoned, but allows the parliamentary shuttle to continue.
After a passionate debate, the vote was won by 166 votes for and 152 against.
Even if there is still a long way to go before a possible final adoption by Parliament – which should also be followed by a referendum – the socialist group immediately welcomed a “major advance for women’s rights”, while the environmental group hailed “a historic victory”. “History”, also reacted on Twitter the leader of the LFI group in the National Assembly Mathilde Panot.
The senators examined, within the framework of a parliamentary niche reserved for the socialist group, a constitutional law proposal LFI voted in November in first reading by the National Assembly with the support of the presidential majority.
The text of this bill has been completely rewritten, via an amendment by Senator LR Philippe Bas. He proposes to complete article 34 of the Constitution with this formula: “The law determines the conditions under which the freedom of the woman to put an end to her pregnancy is exercised”.
>> To read: The inclusion of the right to abortion in the French Constitution, a journey strewn with pitfalls
A wording that no longer refers to the “right” to abortion, which the left unanimously deplores, while assuming to have acted “responsibly” to allow the parliamentary shuttle to continue.
Because a pure and simple rejection of the text by the Senate would have resulted in its burial.
A proposed constitutional law must indeed be voted on in the same terms by both chambers, then submitted to a referendum to be adopted definitively. Unlike what happens with ordinary laws, the National Assembly cannot have “the last word” in the event of disagreement with the Senate.
Last October, the Senate rejected by 139 votes for and 172 votes against a first constitutional bill brought by the ecologist Mélanie Vogel and co-signed by senators from seven of the eight groups in the Senate, with the exception of the Republicans.
In the background, the historic decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, last summer, to revoke the right to abortion.
“Guaranteeing the balance of the Veil law”
“Some of us want so much to introduce a reference to abortion in the Constitution that they are ready to accept any wording,” lambasted the centrist Loïc Hervé.
The Les Républicains group overwhelmingly voted against the Bas amendment, deemed “superfluous” by its president Bruno Retailleau. “The right to abortion is not threatened in its very existence in France by any political formation”, he hammered.
“The Constitution is not made to send symbolic messages to the whole world,” he added.
The Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, recalled in his introductory remarks the government’s desire to support “any parliamentary initiative which would aim to constitutionalize the right to abortion”. Regarding the Bas counter-proposal, he relied on the “wisdom” of the Senate, noting “a desire to reach a compromise”, but expressing “a little doubt” about its effectiveness.
He was criticized in return by Philippe Bas for “staying on the sidelines” by not taking the initiative for a government text.
Philippe Bas, who was a close collaborator of Simone Veil, defended in his counter-proposal the desire to “guarantee the balance of the Veil law”. “There is no absolute right”, he underlined, explaining that his formula “allows the legislator not to abdicate his rights in favor of the constituent power”.
The session was briefly suspended after an incident in the gallery: a group of young activists disrupted the intervention of Senator Stéphane Ravier (Reconquest!) to cries of “Protect the abortion”, before being evacuated by bailiffs.