French women push to cement abortion rights after US ruling

July 8, 2022

PARIS (AP) — The right to abortion in France hardly seems under threat — it’s been inscribed in law for 47 years and enjoys broad support across the political spectrum. But more and more French women are asking: Could what happened in the U.S. happen here one day?

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strip women of the right to abortion has reverberated across Europe’s political landscape, forcing the issue back into public debate in France at a time of political upheaval.


Where France Differs on Abortion

The French and Americans once saw eye to eye on reproductive rights. Today, not so much.

By Pamela Druckerman
JUNE 30, 2022

When the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week, a quote attributed to Simone de Beauvoir quickly circulated on French social media. “Never forget that all it takes is a political, economic or religious crisis for women’s rights to be called into question,” it said. “These rights are never fully acquired. You must remain vigilant your whole life.”

The French are feeling vigilant in part because, historically, they moved in near-lockstep with the U.S. on abortion and related reproductive rights. In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling granting married couples access to birth-control medication; France authorized free access to the pill, for anyone, two years later. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on Roe in 1973; two years later, France decriminalized abortion by passing what became known as the loi Veil, after Simone Veil, the celebrated postwar politician who, as health minister, spearheaded the effort to enact the legislation.


French lawmakers propose bill to inscribe abortion rights in constitution

Constitutional law would cement abortion rights for future generations, says member of parliament

Associated Press in Paris
Sat 25 Jun 2022

A group of lawmakers from the French president’s party will propose a bill to inscribe abortion rights into the country’s constitution, according to a statement by two members of parliament on Saturday.

The move comes after the US supreme court overturned a 50-year-old ruling and stripped women’s constitutional protections for abortion.


‘Silence guarantees nothing will change’: film-makers challenge the anti-abortion movement

Audrey Diwan’s 1960s-set drama Happening is the latest in a wave of films on an issue that is increasingly topical

Rachel Pronger
Fri 22 Apr 2022

When Audrey Diwan first started writing a script about abortion, people would ask her why. Adapting Annie Ernaux’s memoir about the author’s struggle to obtain an illegal abortion as a student in 1960s France, Diwan knew the story was important, but it was difficult to persuade others of its relevance. Fast forward a few years, and no one is asking why. When Happening premiered at the Venice film festival last year, critics were quick to draw connections between the plight of Anne (the character in the film) and the tightening of abortion restrictions around the world. As it lands in UK cinemas this week, this period piece feels timelier than ever.


France – ‘Illegal abortions are not an old story for many women’

Audrey Diwan on her new film, Happening, based the 2000 memoir by celebrated French writer Annie Ernaux

April 18, 2022
Tara Brady

Following in the footsteps of Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Audrey Diwan’s powerful period drama makes a devastating case for sexual and reproductive freedom.

Adapted from L’Événement, the 2000 memoir by celebrated French writer Annie Ernaux, Happening recounts the author’s desperate attempts to get an abortion when she was a promising young student in 1964, a decade before France legalised abortion in 1975.


‘It plunged me back to waiting for a period’: Annie Ernaux and Audrey Diwan on abortion film Happening

An award-winning new drama tells the searing story of a young woman’s quest for an illegal abortion in 1960s France. Its director and the writer on whose autobiography it is based explain why the subject is still important

Lauren Elkin
Sun 3 Apr 2022

In a library, in France, in the 1960s, a young woman glances over her shoulder before opening a textbook to inspect a cross-section of a pregnant female body. A succession of nested U shapes show the way the uterus expands as the foetus grows. The foetus looks like a lima bean with legs. Someone comes; the young woman shields the book from view.

“Before you could ask questions on the internet, everything that happened inside the body was a mystery,” says Audrey Diwan, the director of the film Happening, in which this scene appears early on. “Something is taking place inside her body, her body is doing this work, but she doesn’t understand anything about it.”


France Expands Abortion Access in Two Key Moves

Positive Steps Advance Reproductive Rights

March 1, 2022
Hillary Margolis, Senior Researcher, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Over the past 10 days, France made two notable advances for reproductive rights. On February 23, parliament voted to extend the legal timeframe for abortion under any circumstances from the twelfth to the fourteenth week of pregnancy. On February 19, the government eased access to medication abortion as an alternative to more invasive surgical procedures.

France’s 12-week time limit for abortion on request had forced thousands of women annually to travel outside of France to procure legal abortions. Its new 14-week limit mirrors that of Spain, while other European Union countries go further: abortion for any reason is legal in Sweden up to 18 weeks and in the Netherlands up to 24 weeks.


French MPs approve law to extend abortion time limit

MPs in France have approved a law that extends the deadline for abortions, despite opposition from pro-life activists and far-right representatives.

25 February 2022

The law extending the abotion limit from 12 weeks to 14 weeks was approved by 135 lawmakers in a final vote in the Assemblée nationale on Wednesday, with 47 MPs voting against the extension, and nine abstaining.

It will be one of the final bills to be passed in this Parliament before it closes ahead of April’s presidential election.


France extends abortion limit after year of parliamentary rows

Applause in national assembly as lawmakers vote to extend limit for ending pregnancy from 12 to 14 weeks

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Wed 23 Feb 2022

France has extended its time limit for abortion after an epic battle in parliament, amid anger that thousands of women had to travel abroad each year to terminate pregnancies in countries such as the Netherlands, Spain or England because of French restrictions.

There was applause in the French national assembly on Wednesday when lawmakers voted definitively to extend the legal limit for ending a pregnancy from 12 to 14 weeks. France’s new time frame is still lower than in some other European countries, including England at 24 weeks.


Marie-Claire Chevalier, Catalyst for French Abortion Law, Dies at 66

While in high school in 1972, she was raped and became pregnant. Her illegal abortion paved the way for France to decriminalize the procedure in 1975.

By Katharine Q. Seelye and Constant Méheut
Feb. 10, 2022

Marie-Claire Chevalier was 16 when she was raped by a high school classmate and became pregnant. She then had an abortion, which was illegal at the time unless the woman’s life was in danger.

Her classmate was later arrested on unrelated charges of auto theft. In a bid to avoid prosecution, he revealed Ms. Chevalier’s abortion to the authorities; he was released, and she was arrested and imprisoned.