VIDEO. IVG in the Constitution: “France has changed, even if there remains a lot to do”, debates are underway in Congress

VIDEO. IVG in the Constitution: “France has changed, even if there remains a lot to do”, debates are underway in Congress

Yaël Braun-Pivet. MAXPPP – Thomas Padilla

Députés et sénateurs sont appelés à inscrire le droit à l'IGV dans le Consitution. Une majorité des trois cinquièmes des suffrages exprimés est requise. 

French senators and deputies meeting in Congress at the Palace of Versailles began a historic session on Monday with a view to ratifying the inclusion in the Constitution of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy (IVG), a first in the world. This symbolic milestone, hailed as "a victory" by women's rights organizations, was broadcast live on a giant screen on the square of freedoms and human rights, in Paris.

The President of the National Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet, who chaired the session in the hemicycle inaugurated in 1876, opened the debates by paying tribute to Simone Veil, who worked for the decriminalization of abortion in France. "The place of women has changed because France has changed even if there remains a lot to do" on the path to parity, she said declared.

"Those who fight every day"

The President of the National Assembly praised the past and current struggles of "those who fight every day so that we climb meter by meter the steep wall leading to equality between women and men." The government text will have to be voted on by 3/5th of the 925 members of Congress to be adopted. The result of the vote will be known around 6:30 p.m.

The genesis of this bill with strong symbolic resonance dates back to June 2022. A historic turning point then alerts supporters of abortion. The Supreme Court of the United States overturns the decision "Roe vs. Wade" which since 1973 has guaranteed American women the right to abortion throughout the country. The practice is not prohibited, but now depends on the will of each State.

The project unblocked by the upper house

At the time president of the Renaissance group in the Assembly, the Minister of Equality between Women and Men Aurore Bergé proposed a text. She will be followed by the deputy of La France insoumise (LFI) Mathilde Panot. A bill was finally adopted by the National Assembly on January 30 by 493 votes to 20, then by the Senate on February 28.

The upper house, initially refractory, finally allowed constitutionalization by 267 votes to 50. President Emmanuel Macron then summoned Congress to ratify this societal step. "The law determines the conditions under which the freedom guaranteed to a woman to have recourse to a voluntary termination of pregnancy is exercised", will it thus be included in Article 34 of the Basic Law.

In the presence of Simone Veil's son

Women's rights organizations believe that constitutionalization will make it possible to consolidate an effective right in France since 1975 and the passing of the law passed by the Minister of Health at the time, Simone Veil, to legalize abortion. The Gaillot law of March 2022 extended the legal period for abortion from 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Simone Veil's son was present in Versailles on Monday.

The chosen formulation – it is a question of "freedom" women to resort to abortion, not "right" – preserves the conscience clause introduced by the Veil law which allows medical personnel to refuse the practice of voluntary termination of pregnancy, provided that they refer the patient without delay to another healthcare professional.

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