PARIS (LifeSiteNews) — Bleak wintry weather did not stop 20,000 people, mostly young adults, from joining the Paris March for Life last Sunday. The dense column of pro-lifers walked from the Place de Catalogne in south-west Paris to the Place Vauban behind the dome of the Invalides, the military hospital created for war veterans by Louis XIV in the 17th century. Mainstream press reports grudgingly spoke of “5,000” or “several thousand participants,” as always underestimating the number of demonstrators, many of whom traveled to the capital for the event.
It transpired this Tuesday that the former archbishop of Paris, Mgr. Michel Aupetit, whose offer to step down because of alleged misconduct with an adult woman was recently accepted by Pope Francis in view of the “rumors” about him, joined the March for Life for the very first time this year. Aupetit, a former medical doctor, had formerly supported the March but never took to the streets himself. The conservative Catholic website Riposte catholique commented: “It is only after his retirement that the former archbishop of Paris dared to show up at the march against abortion, which took place Sunday in Paris. Was it really that complicated to come before?”
Other unexpected – and in this case, unwanted – visitors showed up at the march: a dozen “Femen” agitators who hurled themselves at the main stage on the Place de Invalides bare-breasted, shouting hate-filled pro-abortion slogans. They were quickly escorted or dragged away by members of the 1,000 strong volunteer group tasked with the order and security of the March and covered with emergency blankets.
The Marche pour la vie attracted large numbers because of several important circumstances this year: a parliamentary attempt to lengthen the legal limit for abortion on demand that is currently in its second hearing by the Senate, whose legal commission rejected the proposal last week. However, the lower chamber adopted the new bill, presented by Albane Gaillot, a member of the presidential majority party LREM, at its first and second hearings with full government support. As always in France when the Senate and National Assembly disagree, the latter will finally have the upper hand.
The bill aims to set a 14-week gestation limit in place of the 12-week gestation limit on access to what is euphemistically called the “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” (IVG). It has given rise to much criticism, even among medical doctors who are otherwise favorable to abortion, because a second-trimester abortion involves more invasive surgical acts, including the crushing of the baby’s skull. Many medical professionals have borne witness to the particular psychological difficulty of performing acts they describe as “butchery.”
The other upcoming event is April’s presidential election, followed by elections to the National Assembly in June. In France, pro-life issues have long been tragically absent from the national debate — except for the systematic demonization of candidates who have dared to voice their opposition to abortion in the past. But as in the run-up to the presidential elections that happen every five years, Marche pour la vie and other pro-life groups do their best to obtain clear answers on abortion, family, euthanasia, and bioethics issues from all the candidates.
Accepting abortion as a “right” has in practice become an “entry ticket” to the election for candidates who want to have any reasonable chance of reaching the play-off round between the two best-ranked candidates in the first round. In previous contests, Rassemblent national candidate Marine Le Pen complied with this unwritten rule. This year’s right-wing outsider, Eric Zemmour, has often voiced his opposition to legal abortion as a journalist; as a candidate, he recently tweeted: “Abortion is a drama for any woman who resorts to it. But it’s a right. And I absolutely don’t want to go back on that.”
Nicolas Tardy-Joubert, president of Marche pour la vie, a consortium of many pro-life groups, told the crowd at an hour-long rally held at the Invalides on Sunday that, to date, only one candidate had answered the organizers’ questionnaire on pro-life issues, and then only in very general terms. He committed to trying to obtain more precise answers from all, and his survey will be published several weeks before the election. This is because, even if the candidates are not willing to go on this terrain, many voters will still determine their choice in view of their public statements on these issues. The very youthfulness of pro-life activists, year after year, is a sign that realization of the importance of respect for all innocent human life is still very much alive in many French families today.
Brandishing yellow and pink placards with slogans such as “The only true choice is for life;” “For a demographic awakening;” “IVG only eliminates the innocent;”“Protecting the weak, that’s really strong;” “Euthanasia, hypocritical oath;” and (from the unborn’s point of view) “My body, not your choice,” the crowd marched to modern techno music. This was perhaps a tad out of tune when considering the gravity of the march’s intent. Visually, the March was more subdued than in previous years.
A group of praying demonstrators joined the March as in previous years: members of the SOS-Tout petits association (“SOS tiny ones”) remained at a distance to say the rosary and sing hymns because the Marche pour la vie does not want to appear religious. They can be seen at the 2:20:00 time-stamp in this full video of the demonstration.
Larger banners were carried by dozens of teenagers and young adults with the March’s main messages: “Protecting human life, great national cause;” “Presidential election 2022, I vote for life;” and “Stop pissing off embryos.” This last slogan, “Arrêtez d’emmerder les embryons,” was a message for President Emmanuel Macron who recently said he wanted to “piss off” (or literally, in French, cover with excrement) the unvaccinated.
Aliette Espieux, 22, the March’s spokeswoman, told journalists that she’s stopped counting how many times she has joined the Paris march.
“I started coming with my parents when I was very small,” she said. “Then, when I was old enough to travel alone on a train, I came by myself.”
Has anything changed over the years? Yes, she exclaimed. A whole new generation of young pro-lifers has appeared that wants to be mobilized for life every day of the year. On a gruesome note, she described having spoken with a female doctor who told her she actually likes to do aspiration abortions and to look at the tiny hands and feet coming through her suction cannula.
This year, the official public message of Marche pour la vie made a clear link between the original legalization of abortion and the present so-called bioethics laws (that allow for artificial procreation for lesbians, experimenting with human embryos, and the creation of chimeras, to name but a few): “MPLV: 13 years of demonstrations to put an end to bioethical disruption initiated by the abortion law.”
“The March for life calls for the re-establishment of society on respect for all human life,” it added.
The March has issued ten propositions for candidates for the upcoming presidential election, asking them to:
- Commission a study on abortion by the public authorities, in order to better understand the causes and consequences of abortion, as desired by 88 percent of French people (IFOP poll, October 2020).
- Implement a family policy to combat poverty and accompany all parents so that abortion is never a choice made for economic reasons.
- Propose the repeal of the Gaillot law, which includes the extension of the legal limits for abortion to 14 weeks, if it is voted in.
- To allow the 100 percent reimbursement of all medical procedures related to birth (a 100 percent coverage is provided for abortions).
- Make it compulsory, from the sixth week of pregnancy, to have an ultrasound to hear the heartbeat of the unborn child.
- Reinstate a minimum three-day reflection period before any abortion.
- Encourage anonymous childbirth to allow young women in difficulty to carry their pregnancy to term and thus allow their baby to be to be adopted.
- Defend the absolute right of conscientious objection of health care personnel and protect the specific conscience clause.
- Reject any legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
- Deploy a major plan to make palliative care available to any French person who needs it.
Most of these propositions are simply recommending reversing recent measures that have increasingly liberalized abortion. With a yearly count of 230,000 abortions each year in France, a rising number despite very high “contraceptive coverage,” their weakness is quite disappointing. If the March for Life does not demand the end of abortion with no exceptions and the abrogation of the abortion law, known as the “loi Veil” in France, who will?