Can the opinion adopted on Thursday September 28 by the plenary assembly of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) relaunch the legislative process launched in 2022, and today at a standstill, in favor of a constitutionalization of voluntary termination of pregnancy?
“Let’s be realistic,” smiles Jean-Marie Burguburu, its president. “As the title of the commission indicates, the recommendations we make to the government are consultative, therefore not binding. But I am hopeful that this opinion will serve as a guide for all those involved in the defense of this universal human right that is abortion,” he adds.
Abortion, right or freedom?
This opinion from the CNCDH – which has taken up the matter on its own, as it has the prerogative – is part of the continuation of the parliamentary debate begun in the fall of 2022. In November, the National Assembly adopted a wide majority a constitutional bill aimed at adding an article 66-2 according to which “the law guarantees the effectiveness and equal access to the right to abortion”.
Three months later, in February 2023, the Senate voted in favor of a compromise amendment tabled by Philippe Bas, former collaborator of Simone Veil, who rewrote the text in the form of a paragraph integrated into the Article 34 of the Constitution: “The law determines the conditions under which a woman’s freedom to terminate her pregnancy is exercised. »
Is abortion a right or a freedom? And where is the best place to include it in the Constitution? On these legal questions where form and substance are inextricably linked, the response provided by the CNCDH is unambiguous: abortion is an essential right that must be protected in the Constitution, and the best place is its first article because of its strong symbolic charge.
“These modalities would make it possible to establish a solid legal barrier against any attempt to call into question, even partial, this essential right of women,” argues Jean-Marie Burguburu.
The prospect of a referendum
The CNCDH therefore invites the executive to include this right in the Constitution “without delay”, in accordance with the commitment made by President Macron on March 8. On the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day and the tribute to lawyer Gisèle Halimi, he announced a draft constitutional law “in the coming months”.
“We’re still waiting!” », annoys environmentalist senator Mélanie Vogel. “But if the head of state continues to procrastinate while there is a qualified majority in Parliament to convene Congress and adopt this constitutional reform, we will take the initiative again,” she warns.
One option would be to relaunch, at second reading in the National Assembly, the bill where the Senate left it, with, at the end of the process, the prospect of submitting the question to a referendum.
To remind the Head of State of his promises, feminist organizations mobilized across France on Thursday evening, on the occasion of International Abortion Rights Day. The vote, on the same day, of the opinion of the CNCDH supporting their cause was obviously not the result of chance.