Will the amendment tabled Friday, January 27 by Philippe Bas, Senator LR from La Manche, to rewrite the bill aimed at including the right to abortion in the Constitution change the fate that the upper house will reserve for this text ? The answer should be known on Wednesday February 1, the date on which the Senate must decide, after the National Assembly which adopted it at first reading on November 24 by 337 votes for, 32 against and 18 abstentions. Whatever the result, the debate on this bill brought by the LFI deputy for Val-de-Marne Mathilde Panot promises to be lively, as it has divided parliamentarians for months.
The text voted in the fall by the deputies is in one sentence which creates a new article 66-2 in the Constitution: “The law guarantees the effectiveness and equal access to the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy. For its defenders, it is a question of consecrating the fundamental nature of this right, but also of preventing any regression of the legislation which frames it since any infringement could then be declared unconstitutional.
A “badly drafted” proposal, judge Philippe Bas, who proposes to replace it with another formulation: “The law determines the conditions under which the freedom of the woman to put an end to her pregnancy is exercised. “This amendment seems more respectful of the fundamental text and preserves the balance found by the Veil law of 1975, while leaving the possibility of changing it, as has been done in the past”, underlines the entourage of the senator, who was close to Simone Veil. Does Philippe Bas’s counter-proposal have a chance of convincing? The socialist senator from Loire-Atlantique Michelle Meunier is skeptical: “I see it above all as a maneuver to delay a process that is already well under way. Because it is not impossible that the text adopted in the Assembly passes the ramp of the Senate, even if the right-wing majority has so far shown itself to be conservative in the matter. On October 19, a bill aimed at including abortion in the Constitution, brought by the environmentalist senator Mélanie Vogel, was rejected by the upper house. “But only 33 votes”, continues Michelle Meunier. “It would be enough, this time, that 17 abstain for the new proposal to pass”, she wants to hope, even if the scenario is unlikely.
If the left has long been fighting to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution, this demand was reactivated by the decision of June 24, 2022 of the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse a 1973 case law which guaranteed the right to abortion. abortion as a federal law. Since then, six bills have been tabled in France at the offices of the two assemblies, including by the presidential majority.
The American reversal is also an opportunity for feminist organizations to mobilize. “Current events show that, in terms of the right of women to dispose of their bodies, nothing is ever certain”, underlines Albane Gaillot, advocacy officer in family planning. “In Poland, Hungary, Italy and Spain, the right to abortion is reduced or attacked. In France itself, the anti-choice movements are well organized and have relays in the political class, at LR or RN. Against these threats, the most effective protection is to recognize the fundamental value of this right in the Constitution”, she explains.
A perspective that Grégor Puppinck, director of the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), a conservative Christian NGO, is determined to prevent. “It would be diverting the Constitution from its purpose to include a controversial societal measure in it to block public debate. Abortion cannot be considered a right or a freedom like the others since it involves another life which is that of the unborn child”, retorts the one who claims to be a “pro-life defender”.
The battle promises to last. If the bill were adopted by the Senate in the same terms as the Assembly, it would still have to be submitted to a referendum by the president, then approved by the French. Otherwise, parliamentarians would still be able to table a new text, which would relaunch the debate for one or two more years.
Leave a Reply