[CP]- Abortion in the Constitution: The Wrong Debate


The French National Assembly is to examine tomorrow a law proposal tabled by LFI (La France Insoumise) suggesting that “Nobody may undermine the right for abortion and contraception. The law guarantees that any person who so wishes should have free and effective access to such rights.” Alliance VITA denounces this as the wrong debate.

From the very beginning of this parliament legislative term, the idea has been growing among certain politicians that the Constitution should be modified in response to the decision by the United States Supreme Court on 24th June 2022.

The situation in France is however fundamentally different from that in the United States. In France there is no federal law governing abortion. The ruling by the Supreme Court now transfers the legislation on abortion to the federated States. In France as in many other nations, abortion is controlled by laws adopted by the French Parliament.

In our nation, the number of abortions remains at a high level, with 223,300 pregnancy terminations recorded in 2021 and a record rate of use (15.5 pregnancy terminations per 1000 women aged between 15 and 49 in 2021).

This wrong debate over constitutionalisation hides the reality of abortion today. Not only does the latest report by  *DREES show that the overall rate of resorting to abortion is tending to increase, but that organisation also established in 2020 that it is the poorest women who abort most (2020 report). Abortion is thus shown to be a marker of social inequality which should be a wake-up call for the authorities.

Recent studies have also shown the links between domestic violence and repeated pregnancy terminations. In France, the link between abortion and violence remains little explored however: very few doctors systematically raise the question of domestic violence with women requesting an abortion[1]. Nevertheless, it is known that with 40% of the 201,000 women concerned each year by violence from their spouse, the violence began with their first pregnancy.

Moreover, the inclusion of an unconditional right to abortion in the constitution could jeopardise the current legal framework and lead to unlimited access to abortion. One might justifiably fear that it could then become possible to demand an abortion right up to the term of the pregnancy or due to the sex of the foetus.

These political gesticulations obscure the reality of what women have to endure: the need is ever more pressing for abortion prevention and support to enable those who so wish to complete their pregnancy.

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[1] Pelizzari Mélanie et al., “Pregnancy termination and violence: A qualitative study with general practitioners in the Île-de-France region”, Cliniques méditerranéennes, 2013/2 n° 88, p. 69-78.

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