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Women’s freedom to terminate pregnancy enshrined in the Constitution

In 2024, a law enshrined in the 1958 Constitution the freedom of women to have recourse to voluntary interruption of pregnancy (IVG).
The bill was presented to the Council of Ministers on 12 December 2023 by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. On 30 January 2024, it was passed by the Members of Parliament without amendment (493 votes to 30), despite the tabling of more than 170 amendments.
On 28 February 2024, the Senators also passed the Bill unamended (267 votes in favour, 50 against and 22 abstentions).
On 4 March 2024, Parliament approved by 780 votes to 72, with 50 abstentions the bill to enshrine abortion definitively in the Constitution.
The bill includes a single article amending article 34 of the 1958 Constitution to state that "the law determines the conditions in which the freedom guaranteed to women to have recourse to a voluntary interruption of pregnancy is exercised".
In France, abortion is decriminalised and regulated since the Veil law of 17 January 1975, reinforced by the abortion law of December 1979. The right to abortion has subsequently been strengthened by a number of texts: the offence of obstructing an abortion, created in 1993; the 2013 Social Security Funding Act, which allows abortions to be carried out free of charge; a 2014 law abolishing the reference to a "situation of distress"; the law of 20 March 2017, which extended the offence of obstructing an abortion; and finally the law of 2 March 2022, which extended the legal time limit for recourse to an abortion from 12 to 14 weeks.
Christian religious groups expressed their reticence: the Vatican had declared itself opposed to this inclusion in the Constitution. On 29 February 2024, the French Bishops’ Conference published a press release concerning the Senate’s vote in favour of including voluntary interruption of pregnancy (abortion) in the Constitution. The President of the Protestant Federation stated that he considered the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution to be "untimely"; the Conseil national des évangéliques de France (National Council of French Evangelical Protestants, CNEF) expressed its reservations.

D 2 April 2024    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

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