Perspectives on the right to abortion and its constitutionalization France/U.S

On the occasion of the 48th yearc On the anniversary of the vote of the “Parcha” law by the National Assembly (November 29, 2022), Ifop publishes a major survey on the right to abortion and its constitutionalization in both France (1,506 interviews) and the United States (1,550 interviews). This study, prepared for the travel information and advice website Partir à New York, puts the data into historical perspective over the past 50 years, and shows that the transparent text intended to be carved into the marble of the Constitution has been widely accepted in the National Assembly. the right to abortion (Thursday, November 24) reflects the consensus that this public event currently evokes in French opinion. Although the subject was still very divisive when the “Fragment” law was passed (November 29, 1974), unlike American society, which was marked by conservatism, French society had therefore evolved profoundly in nearly fifty years. …


1 – In fifty years, French society has largely opened up to the principle of free access to abortion: now more than three-quarters (77%) of the French are in favor of unrestricted access to abortion. During the discussions on the “Virgin” law, it was the majority in public opinion (48% in September 1974).

2 – Thus, today the French express a more liberal view of the conditions of access to abortion than the Americans… Indeed, the most “liberal” position on this issue is the position that supports the “free abortion right”. Now eight out of ten French people (81% of the French support free abortion rights) are shared by only half (50%) of Americans.

3 – Quite logically, support for the constitutionalization of the right to abortion in France is almost unanimous – 86% of the French are in favor – while Americans are very divided on its recent “constitutionalization” in the US: 61% 39% of those who live there does not accept its decision to abolish the constitutional right to abortion.

4 – As French support for the constitutionalization of the right to abortion has strengthened since the Supreme Court decision, the proportion of French people who support this constitutional approach is widening today with the United States. (86%) compared to six months ago (81%), especially among Melenchonist (89%, +4 points) and Lepenist (90%, +10 points) voters.

5 – The abortion gap between the two sides of the Atlantic is due to very different views on gender and feminism. Thus, the proportion of morally condemning abortions in the USA (45%) is 3 times higher than in France (15%). In the US, this greater moral conservatism is seen in teenage sexual relationships (55% vs. 35% in France), same-sex relationships (19% vs. 39% in France), or gender reassignment (54%). 38% in France).

6 – It should be noted that feminism has more support in French society than in American society, which is more polarized on this issue. Indeed, part of the explanation for these France/United States divisions comes from the stronger rejection of feminism in Uncle Sam’s country: only one in two Americans (52%) claim to be a feminist, compared to two-thirds of the French (67%).

The debate on the constitutionalization of abortion is worthy of highlighting the cultural “gap” between the two nations: French society today is so secularized that “pro-life” speeches do not go beyond Catholic, evangelical and Muslim religious circles. Unlike the United States, where the positions of supporters and opponents of abortion have been more or less defined for 50 years, French public opinion is massively attached to abortion both in principle and in terms of its details and application conditions. This consensus around one of the fundamental sexual and reproductive rights of women also explains the massive support for the current constitutionalization process, which faces several obstacles among conservative voters: only zémmourisme, the expression of the most traditionalist and reactionary part of the radical right. , emits a certain resistance. The desire of the French to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution is therefore not just a reaction to what is happening in the United States, but also reflects an underlying trend of respect for individual autonomy and control over one’s sexuality. women’s right to control their own bodies.”

Francois Kraus, Director of Ifop’s Gender, Sexuality and Sexual Health Unit

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