IVG in the Constitution: LR divided in the Senate, what trend before the vote?

Will right-wing senators vote for the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution? Their votes are necessary for the adoption of the bill, but the political family is still divided this Wednesday, February 28, the day of the vote.

IVG in the Constitution: LR divided in the Senate, what trend before the vote?

Will right-wing senators vote for the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution? Their votes are necessary for the adoption of the bill, but the political family is still divided this Wednesday, February 28, the day of the vote.

New decisive step for the inclusion of voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) in the Constitution. While the National Assembly has already adopted the government's constitutional bill, it is the Senate's turn to vote this Wednesday, February 28. And the decision is important, because if the senators adopt the text, Parliament will be able to meet in Congress “as early as next week” according to the government to definitively enact the constitutionalization of abortion. On the contrary, the adoption of the bill could be postponed if the text is rejected in the Senate.

Majority on the right, the Senate has always been difficult to convince on the strengthening and protection of access to abortion. Above all, it is the votes of Republican parliamentarians and their centrist colleagues that are lacking to include abortion in the Constitution. In February 2023, 119 LR senators and 28 centrists opposed a bill along these lines when only 16 LR and 17 centrists voted for. But this time "we should reverse the figures" according to Senator Dominique Vérien of the Centrist Union who assures BFMTV that his "LR colleagues have moved quite a bit" on the issue.

Several LR senators stated in the media that they wanted to vote for the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution during the examination of the text this Wednesday afternoon. Related senator LR, Nadine Bellurot, who voted against the previous text a year ago, will support the bill on February 28. A change of position due to a different context, but also to discussions held with other elected officials or relatives as she explains to BFMTV: "I talked about it with lots of people. They tell me 'we don't' is never safe with the law. If it doesn't cost anything, why not do it?' And it’s true, I admit it.”

These discussions are sometimes accompanied by pressure to listen to certain senators such as the LR parliamentarian from Seine-Saint-Denis, Thierry Meignen who spoke to Le Parisien. The man had been questioned by his wife - "I hope you didn't vote against abortion" she told him - but also by nieces and nephews last February. These pressures, also exerted by the weight of public opinion, led dozens of LR senators to change their minds according to Nadine Bellurot. And the votes of LR and centrist deputies in favor of the entry of abortion into the Constitution have finally convinced some to distance themselves from the historic position still held by the LR leaders of the Senate, Bruno Retailleau and Gérard Larcher, according to Dominique Vérien.

If among these favorable votes, which should be more numerous in the ranks of LR, some relate to the conviction or new personal commitment of senators, for others they are more a means of proving to public opinion that it is heard as full and complete support for the constitutionalization of abortion. Senator LR Agnès Canayer, for example, declared to Le Point that she will vote for the bill despite "a few drawbacks" in its formulation, but continues to think that "the constitutionalization of the freedom to resort to abortion is not useful". The fact remains that this "will be above all symbolic" to respond to "the strong demand of society" and the senator does not "see any obstacle to this freedom being enshrined in the Constitution".

Republicans are therefore ready and are even campaigning for abortion to be included in the Constitution. The president of the Hauts-de-France region, Xavier Bertrand, also called on the members of his party to support the draft constitutional law in an article published in Elle and not to “fight the wrong fight”. Even Eric Ciotti, President LR, supported the text during his vote in the National Assembly. But opposite, heavyweights are encamping their position.

Gérard Larcher, President LR of the Senate, is opposed to the inclusion of abortion in the Constitution and recalled in January that "the Constitution is not a catalog of social and societal rights". Same story from Bruno Retailleau. The senator and president of the LR group in the upper house co-signed an amendment aimed at adding a conscience clause for the medical profession. If the amendment does not have the effect of preventing constitutionalization, it may, if adopted, postpone the effective entry of the text into the Constitution, since a new examination will be necessary in the National Assembly before a meeting of the Parliament in Congress.

Another amendment tabled by Philippe Bas, aimed at removing the "guarantee" nature of the freedom to abort provided for in the wording of the government's bill, could also, if adopted, postpone the examination of the text in Congress. These amendments should obtain the support of Republicans and centrists still reluctant to constitutionalize abortion, while other senators in favor of the bill should not vote for them. It remains to be seen which of the two “camps” will be in the majority.

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