French parliament debates constitutional right to abortion in Paris French parliament debates constitutional right to abortion in Paris  (ANSA) Editorial

France moving towards a Constitution against life

Discussions are underway in France to include the right to abortion in the Constitution. The constitutional amendment has been approved by the National Assembly with 493 votes against 30 and is presently being discussed by the Senate.

By Massimiliano Menichetti

"A new surge of faith, charity, and hope." Just five months ago, Pope Francis made this plea to the Church in France and across the whole of Europe, calling for policies that promote life, welcoming, and fraternity as he addressed over 50,000 faithful at the Vélodrome in Marseille, concluding his 44th Apostolic Journey.  

On that occasion, in particular, he used two strong words: "cynicism and resignation," wounds that often afflict our societies, and made us lift our gaze to the sky, trusting in the Lord who "acts in history, performs wonders, and is also at work in our societies marked by worldly secularism and a certain religious indifference."

He reflected on the tragedy of discarding human life, which takes on various forms, from the rejected lives of migrants to those of unborn children or abandoned elderly, asking us not to turn a blind eye, to love, to recognize the other: whether on a boat in the middle of the sea or in the most vulnerable condition in the womb of a mother.

It was a strong message of hope, light, and commitment that he brought to France.

And yet, at the end of January, the National Assembly in Paris approved the inclusion of the right to abortion in the Constitution.

The reform proposed by the French government is now being examined by the Senate. In Europe, a continent marred by war, threatened by sovereignist, populist, and consumerist tendencies, and by economic strategies that distance themselves from the vision of its Founding Fathers—Alcide De Gasperi, Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer—that impulse of truth recalled by the Successor of Peter is decisive, and shines a light on the face of humanity.

"Abortion is a homicide," Pope Francis clearly told journalists on the return flight from Slovakia in September 2021. So how is it possible to enshrine a norm that allows the death of a person in the fundamental Charter of a State while at the same time protecting the human person?

We live in a technologically advanced, digitally connected society. Human development from conception has been no secret for decades. We use words like pre-embryo, embryo, newborn, child, teenager, adult, elderly to indicate stages of development where the number of cells changes, cognitive appearance changes, the need for assistance changes, but it is always a human person.

"Is it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to kill a human life?" the Pope again asked journalists on his return flight from Bratislava to Rome.

A society is not measured by its prohibitions but by its capacity to love, and "freedom grows with love," Pope Francis explained in his Catechesis at the General Audience on October 20, 2021, but "with the love we see in Christ, charity: this is truly free and liberating love."

At the beginning of the parliamentary process, the French bishops expressed their concern about this amendment to the Constitution, reaffirming that every life is a gift—a fragile and precious gift, infinitely worthy—to be welcomed and served from its beginning to its natural end.

Humanity has always condemned eugenic theories, yet embryos continue to be manipulated and selected as if they were materials and not people. Abortion in this context is both a premise and a consequence. Strangely, it's as if we're no longer able to see, to be free, to give, or to help.

In a world wounded by so much violence, it seems difficult to build a good global strategy of welcome and support, to allocate funds, attention, and love to women experiencing difficult pregnancies and to the children carried in their wombs.

Many lives, however, would be saved, as demonstrated by pro-life centres, if women were supported economically, legally, psychologically, religiously, and socially at the dramatic moment when abortion seems to be the only solution.

Often, we find ourselves trapped in sterile political or ideological oppositions, but the challenge is to enact laws and amend constitutions with proposals for life, not for death. Investments and measures to strengthen structures and realities capable of taking care of suffering, fear, and extreme and dramatic situations.

To help is to love; it is to be free to choose. And this fraternal horizon, which takes care of the other, of the person, builds societies that do not resign themselves but walk towards an authentic culture of welcome, sharing, and peace.

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07 February 2024, 14:30