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Parliamentarians meeting in Congress will include abortion in the Constitution

A change of scenery for the home stretch.

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Parliamentarians meeting in Congress will include abortion in the Constitution

A change of scenery for the home stretch. This Monday, the 925 parliamentarians of the two Chambers are summoned by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, for an exceptional meeting of the Congress, at the Palace of Versailles. After the Senate's vote last Wednesday, validating in the same terms as the Assembly the bill aiming to include the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) in the Constitution, senators and deputies are called upon to decide last time on the government text to ratify the inclusion of this right in the fundamental law.

To be definitively adopted, the text must be voted on by three-fifths of the members of Congress. Barring any major surprises, this should largely be the case, given the votes in both chambers: on January 30, the Assembly chose to approve the text by 493 votes to 30 before the Senate did the same. , on February 28, by 267 votes to 50. An ideological victory for the left, which has been advocating for several years for the right to abortion to be enshrined in the Constitution.

In June 2022, however, it was a Macronist, Aurore Bergé, then boss of the Renaissance group in the Assembly, who put the subject on the table, by submitting a bill with the very clear objective of achieving a positive vote at the Palais Bourbon. In the background, the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, a few days earlier, to revoke the right to abortion. The subject is making its way into people's minds. The government even supports the idea, through the voice of the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne. A few months later, in November of the same year, another initiative, that of Insoumise Mathilde Panot, was largely validated by the Lower House, with the approval of the Macronist camp, sending a first positive signal to the supporters of constitutionalization. .

In February 2023, the Senate, until then resistant to the idea, in turn voted for a similar bill brought by the ecologist Mélanie Vogel, after having taken care to rewrite, through senator LR Philippe Bas, the title of the text. A first step towards the inclusion of this right in the Constitution, even if a large part of LR senators remain mixed on the usefulness of such a text. Emmanuel Macron then announced, a few months later, in October 2023, his desire to take the initiative again in a bill in order to accelerate the timetable.

If the adoption does not cause any suspense in the Assembly, a conforming vote is far from being acquired in the Upper House, where senators from the right and the center look with suspicion at the wording - "guaranteed freedom" - proposed by the executive. Behind the scenes, several elected officials are working to plead “yes”, such as centrist senators Dominique Vérien and Annick Billion. With an ultimately favorable result, a majority of the LR group as well as the centrists finally voting for the text of the Minister of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti, last week.

From now on, everyone is expected in Versailles, in the legendary Congress Hall, from 3:30 p.m. this Monday. A very large Hemicycle built in 1875, in a part of the castle closed to the public, the Midi Wing, which was the place of residence of the children of Louis XIV. A sumptuous setting with numerous monarchical references in which, since the beginning of the Fifth Republic, all the meetings of the two chambers aimed at adopting constitutional revisions have been convened, and, since 2008, to hear a declaration from the President of the Republic. Separation of powers requires, Emmanuel Macron will not be present in Versailles this Monday. The session will be chaired by the President of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet. It will be the Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, who will first speak, to defend the inclusion of the right to abortion in the Constitution.

Only two other ministers will be on the bench: Éric Dupond-Moretti (Justice) and Aurore Bergé (Equality between women and men). The rest of the government will be in the gallery, places being limited. Deputies and senators will sit in alphabetical order, and not by political group, as they are used to doing in their respective chambers. Explanations of vote, lasting five minutes, will then take place alternating between the groups of the Assembly and the Senate. Before the parliamentarians go to the neighboring rooms of the Hemicycle to vote, for 45 minutes. And until the results are announced, around 6:30 p.m.

Once the text has been validated, Yaël Braun-Pivet will only have to go to the Seal room to sign the text. And to finally affix the seal of the Congress of Parliament.

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