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articles > Health events

Simone Veil in 1979

Forty years ago, Simone Veil was opening the debate on abortion

By Marie Decreme

“No woman goes through an abortion lightly”: on 26 November 1974, these historical words opened a debate and for three days it tore the French Assembly apart. In front of four hundred eighty-one men and only nine women, Simone Veil, Minister of Health, put forward a draft bill that would divide French society: the legalisation of abortion, “to respond to the conscious or unconscious desire of all women who find themselves in this state of anguish”. Simone Veil argued: “At the moment, the law rejects them and disgraces them, shaming them and isolating them, but also forcing into anonymity and the worry of potentially being sued”. On 29 November 1974, the law was adopted by parliament and became law the following month.

Forty years later, the environment has not changed, but minds have; men and women, from both sides of the political spectrum have joined forces to sign a motion for a resolution that reaffirms the importance of the basic right to abortion and women’s universal right to be in charge of their own body. “an essential condition to build real equality between women and men, and a progressive society”, said Catherine Coutelle, Chairperson of the commission on women’s rights. However, this is not a belief shared by everyone: some countries have yet to legalise it and other governments that previously legalised abortion are today looking into making it illegal once more.

Nowadays, French legislation authorises abortion up to twelve weeks of pregnancy. This is the same in many European countries. In total, about 222,500 abortions are carried out every year in France alone. In other words, one woman in three will abort in her lifetime – the statistics in the UK are very similar.  Each year between 3,500 and 5,000 French women travel abroad to get an abortion, because other countries allow abortions to take place much later. In the UK for example, abortion can be carried out up to twenty-four weeks of pregnancy.


30/06/2017 - annetp said :

thank you simone ,for everything.


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