the right to abortion in Europe and in France


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While the Supreme Court of the United States has voted to revoke the right to abortion at the constitutional level, what about women elsewhere, particularly in Europe? Decryption with Thibault Franceschet.

Abortion is legal in most European countries. However, there are exceptions such as the Principality of Andorra or Poland. The latter authorizes abortion in cases of rape or incest. It was toughened by the Polish Constitutional Court, which banned it in the case of fetal malformation. For Ireland, a particularly Catholic country, it took until 2018 for abortion to be authorized. The first country to have authorized it in Europe was Sweden, in 1938. It was only 29 years later that a second country, the United Kingdom, would follow suit. France took the same decision in 1975. Spain, for its part, waited until 2009.

On time limits, the UK and the Netherlands allow abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. In France, it is 14 weeks maximum, just like in Austria. On the other hand, in Portugal, the deadline is only eight weeks. For the moment, no country has established the right to abortion in its Constitution as it is currently planned to do in France. Lauréline Fontaine, professor of public and constitutional law, finds “this attractive initiative even if the inscription in the Constitution would not provide an absolute right”. Indeed, according to her, everything can depend on the majority in power which, at any time, can reconsider this right. Since 1958, 24 revisions of the Constitution have taken place.

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