France to enshrine abortion right in constitution

France is preparing to become the first country in the world to put the right to abortion in its constitution.

On Monday, parliamentarians from the upper and lower chambers will meet in special session in the Palace of Versailles, summoned by President Emmanuel Macron.

If, as expected, they vote for the government’s motion by a three-fifths majority, then the country’s 1958 constitution will be revised to enshrine women’s “guaranteed freedom” to abort.

It will be the 25th amendment to the Fifth Republic’s founding document, and the first since 2008.

Spurred by the end of federal protection of abortion rights in the US two years ago, supporters are exuberant over the revision – which they see as insurance against any similar backpedalling in France.

Polls show around 85% of the French public support the reform. Resistance from right-wingers in parliament has failed to materialize.

Opposition, instead, has largely focused on the politics of the move: President Macron is accused of debasing the constitution for electoral ends.

Critics say the revision is not necessarily wrong in itself, but unnecessary – and they see a weakened president trying to use the cause to boost his left-wing credentials and to flush out opposition to abortion.

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