France becomes first country to make abortion a constitutional right

While women's rights groups are praising the legislation, some LGBTQ+ activists in France are calling for a review of the wording to be more trans-inclusive.

Photograph of crowd of people celebrating France's vote to add the right to abortion to the constitution.

On Monday, March 4, France’s Senate voted to approve a bill that will enshrine the right to abortion in the French constitution.

The bill was approved during a joint session of parliament at the Palace of Versailles with an overwhelming majority vote of 780-72. After the vote was complete, lawmakers stood and cheered for a standing ovation.

Abortion was decriminalised in France in 1975 and is widely supported across political parties, but this vote comes at a time when far-right nationalist parties are gaining influence and advancing anti-abortion movements internationally.

President Emmanuel Macron vowed to protect abortion as a fundamental right in France back in 2022 when the United States Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, a 50-year-old ruling to guarantee abortion in the United States. Monday’s historic vote was initiated to prevent a similar rollback of abortion rights in France.

This amendment makes France the first country to confirm abortion as a constitutional right in recent history, with the former state of Yugoslavia having previously inscribed the right to decide whether or not to have children in their 1974 Constitution.


Women’s rights activists are celebrating the news. Sarah Durocher, a leader in the Family Planning movement, called the vote: “a victory for feminists and a defeat for the anti-choice activists”.

Anne-Cecile Mailfert of the Women’s Foundation said: “We increased the level of protection to this fundamental right. It’s a guarantee for women today and in the future to have the right to abort in France”.

While many are praising the legislation and calling it a victory for women’s rights, some LGBTQ+ activists are calling for the wording to be more inclusive so that the Constitution explicitly protects anyone who may become pregnant.

Based on data from the National Health Insurance Fund, Têtu Magazine estimates that 600 trans men had abortions in France between 2010 and 2022, amounting to roughly 50 abortions per year.

Amnesty International France LGBTI Manager Sébastien Tüller called for a review of the wording to ensure that the right to abortion is guaranteed not only to women but to all people who can get pregnant including trans men and non-binary people.


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