The Senate votes in favor of the inclusion in the Constitution of the "freedom" to resort to abortion
Change of foot in the Senate: the upper house with a right-wing majority voted Wednesday in favor of the inclusion in the Constitution of the "freedom of women" to resort to abortion, a formulation which abandons the notion of "right" .
The text adopted in first reading by the senators, which must now return to the National Assembly, aims to complete article 34 of the Constitution with this formula: "The law determines the conditions under which the freedom of women is exercised to terminate her pregnancy.
After a heated debate, the vote was won by 166 votes for and 152 against, although there is still a very long way to go before a possible final adoption by Parliament, which should also be followed by a referendum.
🔴 #abortion : the Senate adopted the constitutional bill aimed at protecting the fundamental right to abortion, after adopting an amendment enshrining the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancy.
See the amendment of @BasPhilippe :
🔗 https://t.co/hFW6FPxBY3 pic.twitter.com/UCzvqS9AxJ
- Senate (@Senat) -
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. The formulation he proposes 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 had 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.
"The Constitution is not made to send symbolic messages to the whole world"
In the background, the historic decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, last summer, to revoke the right to abortion.
“Some of us want to introduce a reference to abortion in the Constitution so much that they are ready to accept any wording,” castigated 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 small doubt” about its effectiveness.
He was criticized in return by Mr. 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 ushers.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)