This is the first step on a still uncertain path. The deputies of the Law Committee approved, Wednesday January 17, the inclusion in the Constitution of “guaranteed freedom” for a woman to have recourse to a voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG). This decision comes forty-nine years to the day after the promulgation of the Veil law on the decriminalization of abortion. Barring any surprises, MPs are expected to vote on this emblematic measure on January 24, but its outcome in the Senate remains unclear.

While access to abortion is being called into question in several countries, and particularly in the United States, causing concern, the government’s text plans to include in the Constitution the fact that “the law determines the conditions in which exercise the freedom guaranteed to the woman to have recourse to abortion.

He is trying to find a middle path between the Assembly, which had adopted at the end of 2022 a text from La France insoumise to guarantee “the effectiveness and equal access to the right to abortion”, and the Senate, which had adopted a modified version evoking the “freedom of the woman to terminate her pregnancy”. On Tuesday, the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, praised a “balanced text” from the government.

Fears on the right and the far right

If the debates were well held, the formulation of the reform project worries parliamentarians from the Republicans (LR) and the National Rally (RN) – certain deputies from these groups voted against, Wednesday, according to parliamentary sources consulted by the France Media Agency. “This fundamental freedom (…) is not threatened in France,” said MP Pascale Bordes (RN). It is being called into question around the world and “in France through attacks against associations such as Family Planning,” retorted the text’s rapporteur, Guillaume Gouffier (Renaissance).

With the constitutionalization, “we could fear that it would then become possible to require an abortion until its term or because of sex” and “this could lead to calling into question the conscience clause of caregivers”, assured Patrick Hetzel (LR). “This bill does not create an enforceable right,” insisted the rapporteur, also citing the opinion of the Council of State which considers that the text “does not call into question” freedom of conscience.

The LR and RN groups could, however, be divided in the Hemicycle between votes for, against, and abstentions, as they had done during the adoption of a previous law carried by the president of the La France insoumise group, Mathilde Panot .

If adopted in the Chamber, the text would then go to the Senate, dominated by the right and the center. If the Upper House were to adopt it in the same terms, an uncertain hypothesis at this stage, a Congress bringing together parliamentarians in Versailles would be convened on March 5, for a final adoption requiring three-fifths of the votes.