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France set to make abortion constitutional right

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French lawmakers are expected on Monday to anchor the right to abortion in the country’s constitution, a world first that has garnered overwhelming public support.

A congress of both houses of parliament in Versailles, starting at 3:30 pm (1430 GMT), should find the three-fifths majority needed for the change after it overcame initial resistance in the right-leaning Senate.

If the congress approves the move, France will become the only country in the world to protect the right to terminate a pregnancy in its basic law.

President Emmanuel Macron pledged last year to enshrine abortion — legal in France since 1975 — in the constitution after the United States Supreme Court in 2022 overturned the half-century-old right to the procedure, allowing individual American states to ban or curtail it.

In January France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, overwhelmingly approved making abortion a “guaranteed freedom” in the constitution.

The upper house, the Senate, followed suit on Wednesday.

The bill is now expected to clear the final hurdle of a combined vote of both chambers when they gather for a rare joint session at the former royal residence of the Palace of Versailles.

Few expect any difficulty finding the needed supermajority after the three-fifths mark was largely exceeded in both previous ballots.

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