PARIS, July 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute on Sunday to Simone Veil, the woman who will go down in history as the sponsor of the country’s abortion law, as she received one of the nation’s highest honors when her remains were transferred to the Pantheon in Paris.
“Her battles were always driven by her concern for the most fragile,” Macron said.
Veil carried the abortion debate in the French Parliament in 1974 as Minister for Health under President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who along with Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and Veil signed the text promulgating the law. Veil’s name is inextricably attached to what is now generally referred to as the “loi Veil,” the “Veil Act” that legalized “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” up to 10 weeks’ gestation.
The law also allowed for abortion until the end of a full-term pregnancy for “therapeutic” reasons.
Veil was called the most popular woman politician in France after the fateful debate that culminated with the abortion law on December 28, 1974, the feast of the Holy Innocents on the Catholic liturgical calendar. She had abandoned a successful career as a lawyer to go into politics, promoting “women’s rights” and European integration.
Many say that she was chosen to carry the abortion law – a cause mainly promoted by French feminists who famously signed the “Manifesto of the 343 bitches” claiming to have obtained illegal abortions in the wake of an abortion after rape trial – precisely because she was not active on that front. Moreover, Veil was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps where she was deported as a Jew together with her sister and her mother, who died there.
Her personal history, marked by the tragedy of the Shoah, made it difficult for abortion opponents to attack her. Their cause was all the more difficult because, as Veil recalled later in her memoirs, the Catholic Church’s hierarchy was mostly absent from the debate. She openly said that if the French bishops had taken up the fight the abortion law would not have passed.
Whether or not that’s the case, Veil is still mainly known today to the French for her role in the abortion debate and “her” law, which has undergone a number of changes and amendments that through the years transformed decriminalized abortion into a woman’s “right,” has made possible the slaughter of some nine million unborn babies in France since enacted in January 1975.
Give or take 10,000 or 20,000, the “loi Veil” has allowed the legal killing of 200,000 unborn children each year since then. Today, the elective procedure, either chemical or surgical, is fully refunded by taxpayer money.
Veil went on to be become president of the European Parliament in 1979, but that is not what she is mainly remembered for.
She died June 30, 2017. One year and one day later, she received the French Republic’s highest honor for its departed “Great Men” with her inhumation in the national “shrine” of the Pantheon, a proud monument built at the initiative of King Louis XV in the 18th century as a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, patron of Paris. But that was never consecrated as such because of the French Revolution.
In 1791, the final building plans were scrapped, numerous windows of the original construction were obturated, and the semi-darkened space became a chilly and impersonal resting place for famous Revolutionaries, generals, artists, politicians, “Résistants,” scientists and writers who had served “the Homeland” – from Voltaire and Rousseau to Victor Hugo and Marie Curie, and now Simone Veil (and her husband Antoine).
The solemn ceremony of her entombment took place on Sunday morning – at Mass time – in the presence of Macron, former French presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, and numerous officials from the main political parties, but not including Marine Le Pen’s “Rassemblement National.”
During a long speech, Macron said the decision to “pantheonize” Veil (less than a hundred famous Frenchmen lie there) “was that of all the French.” “It was what all French women and all French men tacitly and intensely desired,” he said. Not so, said French pro-lifers, who were incensed by what was objectively a lie.
Macron also honored Veil for her battle for legal abortion, saying she “fought for justice … for women who had been hurt in their flesh and in their soul by backstreet abortionists” (“angel-makers” in popular French), “for women who were obliged to hide their shame and their distress, whom she wrested away from their suffering in her admirable fight for the law on voluntary interruption of pregnancy … “
That women are hurt in their flesh and their soul does not suffer contradiction, but Macron did not mean in that way.
Instead, her law was the turning point after which abortion would no longer be considered an evil but an acceptable solution for distress and then a full-fledged right.
It is fashionable nowadays in France to promote the return to the original “Veil law.” It allows people with political or public ambitions discreetly to deplore the “excesses” of legalized abortion while refusing to fight abortion as such, even though nothing has ever been done, even when Veil was minister for health and later for social affairs, to implement the few restrictive measures in her law that have all been scrapped.
Her son, Antoine, recently told the Jesuit magazine Etudes that she probably was “circumspect” as regards certain developments of her law, but that she chose to remain silent because she “feared all kinds of instrumentalization of her words” – such as justifying the pro-life movement, perhaps?
The public honoring of Veil in the French Pantheon symbolizes present-day France’s attachment to legalized abortion.
But it is a profoundly coherent move. She is now in the company of Voltaire and Rousseau, who theorized the French Revolution of 1789, the matrix of all subsequent Revolutions and genocides as Solzhenitsyn showed. The infamous abbé Grégoire, who presided over the “civil constitution of the priesthood” during the French Revolution which, would send so many priests and religious to martyrdom, also lies there.
But most symbolically of all, Lazare Carnot has also been “pantheonized”. He was a member of the Committee of Public Safety that officially ordered the “extermination” of the Vendée and its “brigands” who opposed the anti-Catholic Revolution of 1789. French historian Reynald Secher recently discovered the “little papers” signed personally by Robespierre, Carnot and others ordering what is no less than the Genocide of the Vendee.
That Simone Veil should have been laid to rest near his mortal remains is, indeed, very apt.