France's national assembly passed a resolution on Thursday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the country's constitution. Photo by Julien De Rose/EPA-EFE
Nov. 25 (UPI) -- France's national assembly voted to approve a resolution to guarantee access to "the right to voluntarily end a pregnancy."
Out of the 557 members in the lower house of parliament, 337 lawmakers voted for the measure on Thursday while 18 abstained, as France inched closer to making abortion a constitutional right.
Mathilde Panot, the parliamentary leader of the left's La France Insoumise party, which proposed the resolution, said it was about protecting legalized abortion against any kind of "regression."
"It would just take a political, economic or religious crisis for women's rights to be questioned," she told the house.
Sacha Houlié, a member of French President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party said the vote was "a big step" but noted "it's just the first step."
The resolution still faces a major hurdle to becoming law. Last month the upper house, the Senate, rejected a similar proposal. That body is dominated by right-wing parties and it is thought that the resolution is unlikely to pass there.
A change of constitution would also have to go to a referendum, although opinion polls suggest more than 80% of French voters are behind it.
The push to approve a resolution came after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in June.
Panot said she dedicated Thursday's vote to women in the United States, Poland and Hungary.
Last February, the French parliament voted to extend the legal timeframe for abortion from 12 to 14 weeks, similar to neighboring Spain.