The Senate launched, Wednesday, October 19, the first of three parliamentary debates scheduled for this fall on the constitutionalization of voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG). A Law proposition carried by the left was rejected the same day by the Luxembourg Palace, with a majority on the right, with 172 votes against (139 for).
Four months after the reversal of the Supreme Court of the United States on the judgment Roe vs Wade which, since 1973, protected the right of American women to have an abortion throughout the country, two other texts will be debated by the French National Assembly in month of November. The American controversy had provoked among many elected officials the fear that such a reversal would be possible in national law in the event of the coming to power of a majority hostile to abortion.
What are the differences between the three proposals?
If the three texts aim to prevent any questioning of the right to abortion, except for a new constitutional revision, the single proposal put forward by the left differs from that of the deputies of the presidential camp.
In the Senate, the text of the environmentalist senator Mélanie Vogel provides the addition of an article 66-2 in the Constitution: “No one may infringe the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy and contraception. The law guarantees to any person who so requests free and effective access to these rights. » The New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes) is submitting an identical formulation to the National Assembly, where it will be debated in public session on 24 November.
the presidential party textRenaissance, expected on November 9 in the Assembly’s law committee and the week of November 28 in the hemicycle, contains only one sentence: “No one may be deprived of the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy. »
Mélanie Vogel insists, with the Worldon the importance of a “free and effective access” to abortion. “The idea is to prevent the legislator from putting obstacles, in particular financial, to abortion, and to maintain the unconditional nature of abortion, which only requires the will of the woman”, develops the parliamentarian. The same applies to the addition of contraception in the fundamental law: “The questioning of abortion is never frontal. It is often done bit by bit, and starts with the morning after pill”explains the senator.
In all three cases, the revision of the Constitution sought would not affect the conscience clause which, except in an emergency situation defined by law, leaves a doctor free to refuse to perform an abortion. “The constitutional revision will not modify the current legislation, and therefore the existence of a double conscience clause for doctors: the general clause, applying to any medical act, and the clause specific to abortion, created by law Eve »confirms Stéphanie Hennette-Vauchez, professor of public law at the University of Nanterre.
What would constitutionalization change?
Legalized by the Veil law of 1975, the right to abortion is now enshrined in the public health code : “A pregnant woman who does not want to continue a pregnancy can ask a doctor or a midwife to terminate her pregnancy. » A text which, legally, could be amended or even repealed by a simple law.
“The Constitution will never be an eternal and absolute protection, but we would complete the right to abortion” with an inscription in the fundamental law, defends Mélanie Vogel. Any law that would attempt to undermine it would now be censured by the Constitutional Council. » In 2018, Agnès Buzyn, then Minister of Health, argued that the institution was “already guarantor of abortion” to justify the government’s refusal to support a bill from the left already aimed at protecting this ” fundamental right “.
The Council has spoken several times on abortion. In 2001, it relied in particular on “the freedom of women which derives from article 2 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” to validate the passage of the abortion period from ten to twelve weeks. “But the Constitutional Council has never enshrined a right to abortion as such.nuance Stéphanie Hennette-Vauchez, also director of the Center for Research and Studies on Fundamental Rights (Credof). He only judged, negatively, that the various abortion laws did not contravene the Constitution. »
Does abortion have a chance of entering the Constitution?
To lead to a revision of the supreme norm, a proposed constitutional law must be validated, in the same terms, by the National Assembly and the Senate, before being approved by referendum. An alternative exists: if the government takes the initiative with a revision bill, the President of the Republic can avoid popular consultation and submit the text to the two parliamentary chambers convened in congress, where three-fifths of the votes would be required. .
Of the twenty-four constitutional revisions adopted since 1958, only two were adopted by referendum: in 1962 (election of the president by universal suffrage) and in 2000 (establishment of the five-year term). The promoters of the three proposals therefore harbor few illusions. “The idea is clearly to provoke a bill which, carried by the government, would have much more force”assures Mélanie Vogel.
The senator also considers that a referendum would be ill-suited to the constitutionalization of the right to abortion: “I don’t want to settle a question that has consensus by launching months of debate on TV sets and by mobilizing millions of euros to organize the consultation. » The Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, confirmed before the Senate in July that “the government would support all parliamentary initiatives” dedicating the character ” fundamental “ of the right to abortion. Without making the commitment to translate them into a bill.