The French Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would create a constitutional right to abort unborn babies in their country.
RFI reports the amendment passed in a 166-152 vote despite opposition from Senate Republicans.
“The constitution is not made to send symbolic messages to the entire world,” said Bruno Retailleau, president of the Senate Republicans, during the debate.
Abortions are legal up to 14 weeks of pregnancy in France, and polls show strong public support for abortion. However, pro-abortion political leaders, including President Emmanuel Macron, have said France needs a constitutional amendment to ensure that abortions remain legal for years to come, pointing to the overturning of Roe v. Wade in America.
In November, the French National Assembly passed a bill to amend the constitution with language that “guarantees” a “right to voluntarily end a pregnancy” without restriction. Basically, it would allow unborn babies to be aborted for any reason up to birth.
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However, Senate lawmakers amended the bill Wednesday before passing it, and the National Assembly must approve the new language.
According to the report, the Senate version amends a different article of the French Constitution, one that guarantees public rights instead of individual freedoms, as the National Assembly version did. The new language also specifically mentions women, stating that the country recognizes the “freedom for a woman to end her pregnancy,” the report continues.
“Without the change, the text would not have passed the Senate, which would have effectively killed the measure, like a previous attempt that was rejected by the Senate in October of last year,” RFI reports.
If the amendment passes both houses, it will be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
Pro-life leaders have been warning the public about the extreme amendment. Last week during the annual March for Life in Paris, about 20,000 people urged lawmakers to reject the pro-abortion change.
Nicolas Bauer, associate researcher at the European Centre for Law and Justice, said the proposed amendment is a radical move by pro-abortion leftists.
“By inserting it into the constitution, the left wants to make abortion sacred as if it were a value at the heart of the national ‘social contract,’” Bauer told the Catholic News Agency last year. “From being a crime, abortion has become a banal medical act, and the left now is seeking to make it a fundamental right, superior to every other right.”
French leaders have been pushing to create a right to abortion across Europe, too. Last winter, President Macron told the European Parliament that France will lobby to add abortion to the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights. He claimed that protecting the so-called right to abort an unborn baby is a “strong value” that Europe should fight to uphold.
“We must update this charter to be more explicit on protection of the environment, [and] the recognition of the right to abortion,” Macron said at the time. “Let us open up this debate freely with our fellow citizens … to breathe new life into the pillar of law that forges this Europe of strong values.”
Abortion has been legal in France since 1975. Last year, parliament voted to expand abortions, making it legal to kill unborn babies for any reason up to 14 weeks instead of 12 weeks.
According to the French Ministry of Health, there were 222,000 abortions in 2020.