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Since the Veil Law of 1975, abortion has been legal in France. Yet for decades, the French could boast that through legislative deliberation, they avoided importing American culture wars and its extremes into their country. The Veil Law legalized abortion, but it mostly banned second- and third-term abortions, to say nothing of the partial-birth abortions that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled were constitutionally protected in 2000. The Veil Law also provided robust conscience protections to doctors who refused to perform abortions. It’s the kind of law that American pro-lifers would be downright enthusiastic to see implemented at the federal level; it’s the kind of law that American progressives would label medieval. The French compromised and produced, they argued, a much more sensible and broadly popular law than those proposed in the United States.

Beneath this veneer of compromise, however, lurked a more sinister consensus. The pro-life movement in France lost all political representation. At best, the most conservative French politicians speak only of their personal opposition to abortion. The media, including conservative media, enforce pro-abortion unanimity. Two years ago, the legal limit for abortion on demand was extended from twelve to fourteen weeks. Nobody could seriously think that legal abortion was under threat in France.

So why would French politicians and elites suddenly unite to enshrine a right to abortion in the French constitution? The answer has nothing to do with France: It is entirely about imitating American politics.

After the Dobbs decision was leaked, Macron proclaimed his disgust over how the U.S. was set to abolish constitutional protections for abortion. The claim was awkward, since he was president of a country with a more restrictive abortion law than most American states, and with no constitutional right to it. Before Dobbs, Macron and other ministers had rejected the idea of constitutionalizing abortion rights. But after Dobbs, Macron acted like the governor of an average-sized American blue state. He set out to change all that.

This trend of copying American progressivism has been going on for years. The last two presidents of France, François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron, both modeled their public image after Obama and sought his endorsement. In 2020, George Floyd-style protests broke out in France, apropos of no relevant domestic event. Throughout Macron’s presidency, natural French antibodies against American wokeness—chiefly, an egalitarian republican culture and the recognition that the racial hierarchies of American victimology have nothing to do with French social reality—have vanished. French students now showcase their preference for American multiculturalism over French republicanism. Polls indicate that over half of them do not believe in “the right to criticize” religious beliefs. They also sympathize with violence instigated by cultural minorities. Seventeen percent think that Samuel Paty, the schoolteacher murdered for showing a cartoon of Muhammed, was in the wrong. Twenty-two percent prefer not to answer.

This culture has trickled up into politics. Despite Macron’s claim that he occupies the reasonable center, much of his ideology is unabashed American progressivism. During Macron’s tenure as president, PISA educational rankings have recorded a massive collapse in the performance of French students in mathematics, reading, and writing. In response, Macron appointed a specialist in race studies as Minister of Education. 

The constitutionalization of abortion is a fitting capstone for this transformation of French politics. The priorities of American progressivism are written into the fundamental law of the French Republic. The political campaigns of French activists become indistinguishable from their American counterparts. French activists celebrate abortion to make a point about the dangers of the far right; but since their own “far-right” politician, Marine Le Pen, enthusiastically supports this constitutional change, they are really thinking of Donald Trump and the dangers posed by the heartland of the United States. Macron is also set to copy the electoral strategy of the Democratic Party. In the upcoming European Parliamentary elections, the last significant election that implicates his presidency before he steps down in 2027, Macron’s team will round up the youth vote by campaigning on abortion.

The limping remains of the French and European right have grown bolder in recent years. They have fewer qualms about opposing the mass importation of migrants and the demographic and cultural upheavals migrants bring. But they would do just as well to speak out against the mass importation of American progressivism, which is embraced from Europe’s lowliest schoolchildren to its most powerful politicians. This phenomenon does not just permit European elites to turn a blind eye to the disruption and violence caused by mass migration, legitimizing it with the language of American multiculturalism. It changes their very identity. As these elites become more and more deracinated from their national traditions, their sense of self is defined by reference to the most powerful forces in the world—the progressive elites who run the United States. The agendas that preoccupy French elites are set neither in Paris nor in Brussels, but in Martha’s Vineyard.

In the short term, the consequences of this imitation of American progressivism will be the further destruction of innocent human life. First, Planned Parenthood is pushing for an extension of legal abortion to twenty-four weeks across all of Europe. Now that abortion is a constitutional right in France, it will be increasingly difficult to justify any legal restrictions against it. Second, conscience protections enshrined in the Veil Law are now at risk. The left is preparing to attack this clause, and the field is clear; the Senate has already rejected an amendment to the abortion clause that would have constitutionalized these conscience rights. Third, it paves the way to legalize assisted suicide—Macron’s next big legislative project.

All these are clear logical consequences of a culture that sees abortion as a sacrosanct, even holy, act—autonomy is an idol, recusal is immoral, collaboration is an imperative. At this stage in the abortion regime, it is too much to expect politicians who encourage the mass murder of the unborn to be ashamed. But these same politicians have overseen the colonization of their country’s politics by a foreign power. Independent national politics have ceased to exist. Perhaps they and their countrymen can still be ashamed over that.

Nathan Pinkoski is an Assistant Professor of Humanities at the Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education at the University of Florida.

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Image by Пресс-служба Президента Российской Федерации via Creative Commons. Image cropped.

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