EDITORIAL. Can the right afford to oppose the constitutionalization of abortion?

The inclusion of abortion in the Constitution came up against resistance from the right on Wednesday during an undecided vote in the Senate. Gérard Larcher, the president of the High Assembly is opposed to it.


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The President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, at the Palais du Luxembourg, October 2, 2023. (ALEXIS SCIARD / MAXPPP)

The Senate is considering on Wednesday February 28 the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution, a reform desired by the government, and whose fate depends on the right, the majority in the High Assembly. Gérard Larcher, the president of the Senate, displays his hostility. He repeats that the Constitution must not “to be a catalog of social and societal rights” and that voluntary termination of pregnancy is, according to him, not threatened in France. On Tuesday, he simply reiterated his “reservations” on the drafting from the National Assembly. She mentions “the freedom guaranteed to women to have recourse to an abortion”. Officially, the word “guarantee” bristles the senatorial right which sees in it the threat of a “enforceable right”.

An amendment carried by Senator LR Philippe Bas therefore wants to delete it, but if it is adopted, the text would go back to the Assembly. Before convening a Congress to revise the Constitution, the executive must have the bill adopted in the same terms by each of the two Assemblies.

The right is trying to gain time, that is in any case the accusation of the majority. In the event of the text being returned to the Assembly, it is not said that the deputies validate this new step back imposed by the senators. They have already amended the text to replace the word “right” to abortion by that of “freedom”as the same Philippe Bas recommended in 2023. The senatorial right is raising the stakes and the majority suspects the right of looking for a pretext to bury a text which divides it and, above all, in a sort of Pavlovian reflex, to derail a initiative of Emmanuel Macron.

In opposition to public opinion

This strategy is politically risky. In polls, an overwhelming majority of public opinion supports the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution. Taken to task by numerous associations and by personalities, for example Sophie Marceau, the right runs the risk of becoming a little more out of date about the defense of women’s rights, moreover at a time when this cause is finally taking a preeminent place in the public debate. It would not be the first time that the right found itself going against the tide of societal developments. She, for example, fought PACS or “marriage for all” for a long time before joining it about ten years late. Without forgetting the Veil law itself. Supported by a right-wing government, this historic reform which established abortion in 1975 was only adopted thanks to the massive support of the left; two thirds of right-wing parliamentarians voted against.

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