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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Inui

Weekly News Blast | March 3 - 10

the front face of the Palace of Versailles in France

French legislators voted at the Palace of Versailles to enshrine the right to an abortion into the constitution (diamond geezer, Flickr)

France Passes Constitutional Amendment Enshrining the Right to Abortion

In an overwhelming 780-72 vote, French MPs and senators passed an amendment declaring abortion a “guaranteed freedom,” making France the first country to enshrine abortion access into the Constitution. Currently, France’s abortion laws are among the most liberal in Europe, including the right to a fully funded abortion up to the 14th week and later abortions in the case of health risks or fetus anomalies.

The motivation for the amendment is largely the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, severely weakening abortion rights in the country. “This right… has retreated in the United States. And so nothing authorized us to think that France was exempt from this risk,” said Laura Slimani, a politician from Fondation des Femmes. “France is showing the right to abortion is no longer an option, it’s a condition of our democracy,” said Mélanie Vogel, a Green Party senator who played a critical role in passing the amendment.

The amendment received some opposition from the Vatican and the French Conference of Bishops as well as anti-abortion activist groups, but in general, the country welcomed the change. “We are sending the message to all women: Your body belongs to you,” said Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. “No one has the right to control it in your stead.”

Nikki Haley Drops Out of the Republican Presidential Primary

After a resounding series of primary election losses, Republican candidate Nikki Haley announced she was suspending her presidential campaign. “I said I wanted Americans to have their voices heard—I have done that. I have no regrets,” Haley said in a speech. Though Haley had previously pledged to the Republican National Committee that she would support the Republican nominee, she did not immediately endorse Donald Trump for president. Instead, she urged Trump to earn back the support of Republicans who had previously backed her.

In a statement following Haley’s withdrawal, President Joe Biden commended Haley for her “courage” to “speak the truth” about Donald Trump and the “chaos that always follows him,” urging her followers to join his re-election campaign. Trump took the opportunity to slam his former challenger, releasing a statement saying “Nikki Haley got TROUNCED last night, in record-setting fashion” and similarly encouraging Haley supporters to support his re-election.

Heading into the primaries, many believed that the former South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador’s support for Ukraine and nuanced stances on abortion, as well as her relatively young age compared to Trump and Biden, would help her appeal to independents and suburban women. However, despite surprise wins in Vermont and Washington D.C. (making her the first Republican woman to win a state primary), Haley lost 13 of the 14  “Super Tuesday” primary elections. “I congratulate him and wish him well,” she said in reference to Trump, the near-certain Republican nominee. “I wish anyone well who would be America’s president. Our country is too precious to let our differences divide us.”

Sweden Joins NATO Military Alliance

On March 7, Sweden’s application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was approved after months of delays. Despite a longstanding tradition of military neutrality, Swedish support for NATO membership increased in the mid-2010s amidst Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented that the “Swedes realized… that if Putin was willing to try to erase one neighbor from the map, then he might well not stop there.”

While the neighboring Finland joined in April 2023, Sweden’s application was held up by objections from Turkey and Hungary. Turkey’s objections were based on Sweden’s support for Kurdish separatists while Hungary accused Sweden of being hostile. However, after 18 months of delay, both countries eventually gave their formal consent. Other groups, including Sweden’s Left and Green party, opposed NATO membership. However, much of the world was in support of Sweden’s membership. On Thursday, Sec. Blinken labeled the accession a “historic moment for Sweden, for our alliance, and for the transatlantic relationship.”

Sweden’s ascension to NATO was a significant blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has sought to weaken the alliance. Not only will Sweden—which has an 830-mile border with Russia—benefit from the alliance’s common defense guarantee, but it also brings well-trained and equipped armed forces, cutting-edge submarines, and a crucial link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea.



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