France’s National Assembly declares abortion a ‘fundamental right’
A resolution proclaiming abortion to be a “fundamental right” was adopted by a large majority last Wednesday by the French National Assembly. The resolution was presented by a socialist member, Catherine Coutelle, and was discussed on the 40th anniversary of the landmark speech, on November 26, 1974, by then-minister of health Simone Veil, whose name is still associated with the French abortion law, or “loi Veil,” reports LifeSiteNews.
Only 151 members of the National Assembly were present out of the total 577 deputies, on a day and time of the week that usually attract many to the Palais-Bourbon, where the National Assembly sits: Wednesday is government question time and sessions are broadcast nationwide. Whether the absentees found the debate unimportant or were simply embarrassed about voting for or against, the fact is that the motion was approved by 143 of the voters. Seven voted against (Jacques Bompard, Jean-Frédéric Poisson, Jean-Christophe Fromantin, Nicolas Dhuicq, Xavier Breton, Yannick Moreau and Olivier Marleix) and one abstained.
Of those who voted “no”, one – Fromantin – was threatened with exclusion from his centrist party. One UDI senator, Chantal Jouanno, said his place was no longer within the UDI of which Simone Veil is an honorary member. Other party members, however, underscored the fact that the “loi Veil” created an “exception,” not a right, and that Veil herself defended the text in 1974 saying “abortion is always a failure, sometimes a drama”: “Society tolerates” abortion “but should not pay for it or encourage it,” she said.
To be precise, the decriminalization of abortion forty years ago came with all the usual hype: abortions would at least be “legal, safe and rare.” As in the US, statistics of illegal abortions and related maternal deaths were inflated: with the new law, there would be less abortions because women “in distress” would find help to keep their child. Compulsory pre-abortion counseling would take place at the expense of the State.
Reality soon proved to be very different and since 1975, at least 200,000 “voluntary interruptions of pregnancy” – as they call abortions in France – have taken place yearly. An estimated 220 to 225,000 were performed in 2013.