Just three days after the March for Life in Washington commemorating the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for abortion on demand in the U.S., an estimated 45,000 French pro-lifers marched in Paris Sunday in protest of their government’s increasingly aggressive anti-life policies.
“Abortion is a license to kill, put into law under the guise of women’s liberation,” said Cécile Edel, president of “Choisir la vie,” one of the founding movements of the march.
The archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Barberin, came out to march and pray with the other prolifers, sending out a tweet of solidarity and support:
À la marche pour la vie 2015 ! pic.twitter.com/0jTnv8Q4Xl
— CardBarbarin (@CardBarbarin) January 25, 2015
Abortion was legalized in France on January 17, 1975 under the Veil law, though with tighter restrictions that in the U.S. According to the Law, the French have abortion on demand only up to 12 weeks after conception and only if the woman experiences a situation of distress. After that time, an abortion requires the declaration by two physicians that carrying the pregnancy to term would result in grave injury to the mother or severe disability to the child.
Marisol Touraine, the current Minister of Health and Social Affairs, however, has made facilitating abortions one of the priorities of her office. Since January 2013, the French government has stepped up its pro-abortion activity, reimbursing 100% of abortion costs through social security (January 2013), suppressing the distress clause of the Veil Law and assuring access to information on abortion services (summer 2014), and bestowing on abortion the symbolic title of a “fundamental right” (Fall 2014).
Touraine is determined to make abortions easier still. To remove financial disincentives, the minister wants the whole procedure to be repaid in full. “Since 2013, the act is fully reimbursed by social security. Now, all acts associated with the abortion, such as ultrasounds or medical exams, will also be repaid,” she said. Touraine has also created a national call number to answer questions about sexuality, contraception and abortion services.
In 2013 France’s birth rate dropped to 1.99 children per woman, dipping below the symbolically important level of two children per woman. As the second most fertile country in the European Union after Ireland, France’s birth rate has been considered one of its economic strengths. As its fertility continues to decline, however, that seems to be changing. A maintenance level of 2.1 children per woman is considered necessary for population stability, excluding migration.
Since October, abortion activists have been pushing for amendments to the Health Bill, including removal of the cooling-off period of seven days required prior to an abortion, removal of the conscience clause attached to abortion for health professionals, and the imposing of abortion facilities in all institutions with a gynecology department.
This 10th annual March for Life, which has always been dedicated to protesting abortion, is also speaking out this year against “the legalization of euthanasia actions,” four days after a debate on the end of life in the National Assembly.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome