The Mercury News
Macron calls for putting right to abortion in constitution
Rendering homage to Gisele Halimi, a feminist lawyer instrumental in the legalization of abortion in France, President Emmanuel Macron announced Wednesday that a bill would be prepared “in the coming months” to enshrine in the constitution the freedom to choose a “voluntary termination of a pregnancy.”
A national law made abortion legal in France in 1975, and no serious threat to its legality exists today, but the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court last year to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion has galvanized French efforts to protect and recognize abortion as an inalienable right.
“Courts in other countries in the world have returned to the question of women's rights because reactionary ideologues are seeking their revenge on the lawyers and activists who once made them retreat,” Macron said. It was clear to which country he was alluding.
Debate on safeguarding abortion rights through an amendment of the constitution began last year in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, and continued this year in the Senate. Both have backed the idea, but with different wording.
Macron's mention of a drafting of a constitutional law bill within “months” injected a new urgency into the process and gave it his personal imprimatur.
Halimi, who died in 2020 at age 93, was a Tunisianborn French attorney and socialist lawmaker widely recognized for her unstinting struggle for the legalization of abortion in France, which occurred in 1975, two years after the Roe v. Wade ruling in the United States.
“Injustice is physically intolerable to me,” Halimi, who was born into a conservative Jewish family in Tunis, said in 1988. “My entire life can be summed up by that. Everything started with the hated Arab, then the Jew, then the colonized, and then women.”
Macron, speaking at the Palais de Justice courthouse in central Paris, said he hoped the “force” of Halimi's “message” would “help us change our constitution in order to engrave in it the freedom of women to voluntarily interrupt a pregnancy, so that nothing can obstruct or undo what would then be irreversible.”