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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the Palais de Justice on March 8, 2023, in Paris, FranceTwitter/Screenshot

PARIS (LifeSiteNews) — Emmanuel Macron, France’s childless president, wants the “freedom to abort” to be inscribed in the Constitution and said as much during a national ceremony of tribute to Gisèle Halimi, a figurehead of the pro-abortion movement, on Wednesday. 

Macron, who is also promoting the legalization of euthanasia in France, committed to having his government present a draft law to that end within the coming months, which would amount to fast-tracking current parliamentary initiatives and giving them the added weight of his presidential support. 

To date, the French National Assembly approved the move to make the “right” to abortion constitutional, and early in February the Senate modified the text initially presented by members of the lower chamber by replacing the word “right” by “freedom,” thereby unexpectedly obtaining a majority vote in favor when everyone was expecting the initiative to be rejected. 

Coming as it did from members of Parliament, the proposed revision of the Constitution would have needed to be approved by referendum. As a law presented by the executive, the constitutional revision promoted by Macron will be much easier to achieve, merely requiring a three-fifths majority in a joint vote by the National Assembly and the Senate. Given the language chosen by Macron (“freedom” to abort as opposed to the “right” to access abortion) the risk of a vote in favor of his plan is high. 

With his largely unexpected intrusion into the abortion debate, Macron appears more and more as the most “pro-death” head of state in French history. Even the sanguinary revolutionaries such as Robespierre and Carnot under the “Terreur” never reached his level of despisal for innocent human life. 

Certainly, during the tragic years following the 1789 Revolution, several hundred thousand “enemies of liberty” were guillotined, shot, drowned, burned or skinned – primarily in the genocide of the Vendée – but since abortion was decriminalized in 1975, some 200,000 unborn children have been legally killed each year in their mothers’ womb. 

These numbers have increased recently to over 220,000 abortions each year, helped along with the recent lengthening of the legal time limit for elective abortion up to 14 weeks gestation, the scrapping of all remaining conditions, and full reimbursement of all costs by public health insurance. This would seem to indicate that it has never been so easy to get “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” as it is known in France, especially as more than 75 percent of abortions are now chemical rather than surgical. 

Even from the abortionist’s point of view, and given the present situation, turning the freedom to abort into a constitutional principle seems pointless. Pro-lifers have practically no chance of progressing on the French political scene and the abortion debate is portrayed as having been almost unanimously settled in favor of the “right” to abortion. So why the sense of urgency that is being instilled into the debate, with the president’s doubling down on feminist demands?  

Clearly, the overthrowing of Roe v. Wade in the U.S. has played a major role in the present headlong rush (nearly) everyone is trying to join. Abortion “rights” are being portrayed as under attack. More profoundly, the Americans’ success in their Supreme Court battles for life appear to have enraged liberals, progressives, and feminists, leading them to seek to return blow for blow. 

Macron made his announcement at the Parisian “Palais de Justice” which houses the courts of appeal and the national Court of cassation, on International Women’s Day, paying homage to lawyer and socialist politician Gisèle Halimi (1927–2020) who was prominent in the anti-colonialist movement. She was one of the signatories of the 1971 Manifesto of 343 women who admitted to having had an illegal abortion in order to obtain the legalization of what was a delict at the time. 

In 1972, she was the defending lawyer of an underage girl who had an illegal abortion, allegedly after having been raped, during the “Bobigny trial” which led to her acquittal and played a key role in the ensuing political debate. Halimi, who together with her mentor Simone de Beauvoir created the “Choisir” (“Choice”) movement in France, was instrumental in the exploitation of the Bobigny trial in order to obtain the support of the media and politicians for legal abortion. 

Macron posted a video of his declaration on Twitter on Wednesday evening, with captions. The English translation of his statement follow: 

Women’s rights are always a fragile conquest. Gisèle Halimi, by her words, made the law change. Today, I want the strength of this message to help us change our Constitution in order to engrave in it the freedom of women to undergo voluntary interruption of pregnancy. I want to solemnly ensure that nothing will be able to impede or undo what will thus become irreversible; to send a universal message of solidarity to all women who are currently facing the violation of this freedom. I therefore desire that the progress made during parliamentary debates, at the initiative of the National Assembly, and subsequently enlightened by the Senate, will make it possible to enshrine this freedom in our fundamental text, within the framework of the bill to revise our Constitution which will be prepared in the coming months. No, we do not ever want another Bobigny trial. 

Constitutionalists – some of them liberal and many pro-abortion – have underscored the undesirability of using the fundamental law of the French state to affirm freedom of access to an individual and particular procedure when constitutions are aimed at organizing the political structure, the public good and the fundamental rights of all citizens of a sovereign nation. 

Pro-life groups and the few politicians who are willing to champion their cause have voiced their concern regarding the conscientious objection of doctors and medical staff who will be faced with a constitutional “freedom” on the part of women asking for an abortion, if Macron has his way, instead of a procedure that is guaranteed against criminal charges. However flimsy the argument – to all intents and purposes first trimester abortions are treated as a woman’s right – their right to say no was a coherent aspect of the system. 

Macron’s declaration regarding the “irreversibility” of the constitutional change he hopes to achieve is also unacceptable: should a pro-life parliament and government come to power in France, nothing can stop them from modifying the Constitution in their turn. Assuredly, this does not seem likely anytime soon, but there is no fatality in this. 

Many have applauded Macron’s initiative, including former president François Hollande and the present justice minister, Eric Dupond-Moretti, who were present at the ceremony for Halimi. Claudine Monteil, an historian and feminist who, at 21, was the youngest signatory of the Manifesto of the 343, called the decision “historic,” “beyond our own dreams.” She recalled that De Beauvoir had said to her, after the abortion law was voted by the assembly in 1974: “No, we have not won permanently, we have won temporarily. A political, economic or religious crisis will suffice for women’s rights to be called into question. Your life long, you will need to remain alert.” 

The French Planned Parenthood association and other feminist groups voiced satisfaction. Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette, president of France’s official High Council for Equality, called Macron’s initiative the “crowning of Gisèle Halimi’s work” and added that it constituted “an important step towards securing the right to abortion in France and an exemplary move forward for the rest of the world.” 

Others complain that Macron should have chosen the watered down version of the constitutional change by using the word “freedom” instead of “right,” while acknowledging that the move could make the revision easier to push through. 

The leftist daily Le Monde observed that the choice of the concept of liberty over that of rights would in fact line up the constitution revision with the present jurisprudence of France’s Constitutional Court, which has to date justified legalized abortion by referring to article 4 of the French Declaration of Rights that defines liberty as the possibility of “doing all that does not harm others.” Under French law, an unborn child is not considered as “another.” 

Marine Le Pen, head of the Rassemblement national (RN, the former Front national) which historically largely rejected legal abortion, once again disappointed the more conservative part of her electorate by calling Macron’s initiative “not particularly useful.” 

She added that “no one questions the freedom to resort to abortion in France, not a single political movement, not a single important public figure, not a single association.” 

Not only did two-thirds of the nearly 90 RN deputies support making abortion a constitutional right during the vote at the end of last year, now their leader is to all intents and purposes wiping pro-life movements in France off the map, acting as if they did not exist. 

And so France is moving to become one of the only countries in the world where abortion will officially becoming a pillar of society and of community life.