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France’s lower chamber passes bill to enshrine abortion access in constitution

Lawmakers in France’s National Assembly voted to amend the French constitution on Thursday in order to add a passage that guarantees access to abortion.

Members of the lower chamber agreed to the proposed language earlier this week in preparation for the key vote, which passed 337-32. However, the passage of the bill in France’s lower chamber is only the first step to enshrining abortion rights in the constitution.

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“The law guarantees the effectiveness and equal access to the right to voluntarily end a pregnancy,” the proposed amendment reads, according to France24.

The bill will now go to the Senate, which has a conservative majority, and is not expected to pass. The Senate rejected a similar bill last month, claiming that abortion is not under threat in France.

Mathilde Panot, who has spearheaded the move in the assembly, dedicated Thursday’s victory to women in the United States, Hungary, and Poland. The legislation was spurred by the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade during the summer, despite France’s move in February to extend the legal right to an abortion to 14 weeks instead of 12.

“The assembly is speaking to the world, our country is speaking to the world,” Panot said. “We don’t want to give any chance to people hostile to abortion and contraception rights.”

Poland has a near-total ban on abortion and recently determined a fetal defect was not cause for termination, while Hungary now requires women to see evidence of the unborn child’s vital signs, such as a heartbeat, before requesting an abortion.

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If passed by the Senate, the amendment would need to go to a referendum that’s approved by the French public. Polls indicate that if the amendment does go to the public, at least 80% would support it.

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