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In France, members of Congress overwhelmingly approved a bill to enshrine a woman's right to abortion in the country's constitution. 

In a joint session of parliament convened at the Palace of Versailles, the bill was adopted by 780 votes against 72. As a result of the vote, France became the first country to constitutionally guarantee the right to abortion since the former Yugoslavia's 1974 constitution.

Abortion, which has been legal in France since 1975, enjoys broad support among most of the country's political representatives.  Ahead of the historic vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal addressed 925 lawmakers in a joint session at Versailles, calling on them to make France a leader in women's rights and set an example for countries around the world in the defense of women's rights.

In a post on X, French President Emmanuel Macron called the bill France's "pride and a universal message".

Criticisms

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Unity Party (RN), said that Macron was using this to score political points because of the overwhelming support for abortion rights in the country.

Le Pen said it was an exaggeration to characterize this as a historic step because "no one in France has risked their right to abortion." 

Pascale Moriniere, president of the Union of Catholic Families, described the decision as a defeat for anti-abortion campaigners.

"This is also a defeat for women, and of course for all the children who will never see that day," said Moriniere, who said there was no need to include the right to abortion in the constitution.

Abortion right in France

A single-article bill to amend Article 34 of the French Constitution to include the right to abortion was passed by the National Assembly on January 30 and by the Senate on February 28.

With the adoption of the bill, the Senate removed an important obstacle for the legislation promised by the Macron administration, which aims to make "a woman's right to have an abortion irrevocable".

The bill stated that "the conditions under which women's freedom to have an abortion will be exercised will be determined by law and this freedom will be guaranteed". 

The bill, which was approved by the National Assembly and the Senate, required a vote in Congress and a three-fifths majority in a joint session because it amended the constitution. 

In France, women can legally have an abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy.

The right to abortion enjoys broad support among the French public. According to polls, 80 percent of the public supports this bill.