France Honors Abortion Champion Simone Veil, Activist Responsible for Legalizing Abortion

International   |   Christina Vazquez   |   Jul 2, 2018   |   2:39PM   |   Washington, DC

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron honored pro-abortion advocate and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil by interring her into the Pantheon in Paris.

Veil, who died at age 89 on June 30, 2017, was laid to rest alongside her husband in the Pantheon, which is one of the highest posthumous honors a French citizen can receive, the AP reports. Noteworthy French citizens also buried in the Pantheon include Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Marie Curie and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

During the ceremony, Macron issued a few words celebrating Veil’s work, claiming, “France loves Simone Veil.” After surviving the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen death camps with the prisoner number 78651 tattooed on her arm, Veil served as the Health Minister of France in 1975, according to Reuters. She also served as the first female president of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1982.

As Health Minister, she advocated for the legalization of abortion. In 1975, she was successful, and the first French legislation that legalized abortion, “Loi Veil,” is named after her. Not only was it the first piece of legislation that legalized abortion in France, but it also made France the first predominantly Roman Catholic nation to legalize the abhorrent procedure.

Loi Veil legalized abortions only in the first trimester, when the mother’s health was at risk. The law required two physicians to approve the abortion if they believed that carrying the child to term would seriously harm the mother’s life or result in a severe disability to the child.

When the law passed, Veil defended abortion, but not to the extent that it is allowed today.

“Abortion should stay an exception, the last resort for desperate situations,” she said. “How, you may ask, can we tolerate it without its losing the character of an exception – without it seeming as though society encourages it?”

Despite her hesitations, Veil’s law opened the door to more access to abortion, and now the deadly procedure is legal for any reason through the 12th week of pregnancy. Today, about 200,000 unborn children are aborted every year in France, and 16 in 1,000 women undergo an abortion in Western Europe, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Veil’s funeral ceremony at the Pantheon received military honors, and the Guardian newspaper proclaimed her “the conscience of France.”

Having survived the atrocities of the Holocaust, one would think she would fight for life at all stages, regardless of who they are, but her legacy proves that is not the case. She may be the fourth woman to be honored at the Pantheon, but her work has contributed to the destruction of countless girls’ lives.