PARIS, February 5, 2014 ( – The French government withdrew a controversial draft law on the family on Monday, putting it on hold until 2015, one day after giant pro-family demonstrations drew several hundred thousand marchers in Paris and 40,000 more in Lyon, including Cardinal François Barbarin.

The law’s main aim was to give legal status to stepfathers and stepmothers in blended families and to promote mediation in divorce proceedings. Simplified divorce was also on the cards, an official report having recommended that “non-confrontational” separations be subject to a simple registration in the hands of the clerk of the court.

The withdrawal has been characterized by the mainstream press as a major victory for the grassroots movement against same-sex “marriage” that launched in November 2012. The unexpected success of the “Manif pour tous” (“Demonstration for all”) on Sunday has clearly played a role: no-one was anticipating such a large turnout. Especially as two weeks earlier an estimated 40,000 marched for life in Paris, while on the 26th of January another 20,000 or so persons demonstrated at the call of diverse groups, including some pro-life associations, asking for President François Hollande’s resignation.


The imminence of local and European elections in March and May, respectively, coupled with Hollande’s unprecedented unpopularity, were likely also at play in the socialist government’s move, which wrong-footed Family Minister Dominique Bertinotti, who is still defending her draft text with support from a number of socialist deputies and senators.

But if the objective was to defuse opposition to the Hollande government’s multiple attacks on the family, the withdrawal of the draft law will not suffice. Since the government came into office, free and anonymous access to contraception for minors, full funding of abortions, and above all the legalization of homosexual “marriage” and adoption give witness to a violent anti-life policy.

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Only a few weeks ago the National Assembly adopted a “Women-Men” Equality law that includes amendments establishing abortion as a fully-fledged “right.” The law, which has yet to be examined by the French Senate, also scrapped any reference to a woman’s “distress” as a requirement justifying legal abortion. While this condition has in practice been obsolete almost since the original abortion law was adopted in 1975, the symbolic importance of the move has been underscored by most pro-life groups.

As well, the law would punish those who hinder legal abortions by impeding access to information on how to obtain them. Consequences could be dire for the conscience rights of medical personnel, as well as for pro-life groups dedicated to helping pregnant women.

This Sunday’s massive demonstrations cautiously steered away from a full pro-life message – that is why the “Manif pour tous” decided not to join the Parisian March for Life two weeks ago, even though large numbers of demonstrators joined both events, often coming in from the far-away provinces to voice their opposition to the destruction of the family and of innocent life.

Sunday’s objective was to obtain the withdrawal of the draft family law, but also to protest against the teaching of “gender theory” in French schools, against heavy new taxes and pension cuts targeting families, especially large families, as well as to oppose pressure to legalize medically assisted procreation for homosexual pairs and surrogate motherhood. These “advances” have been provisionally left out of draft laws but the “Manif pour tous” is remaining alert as LGBT groups are campaigning for these new “rights” and often getting heavy support on those counts from European Union and Council of Europe institutions.

Ludovine de la Rochère, the “Manif pour tous’” president, made it very clear that French families will not allow parents’ rights to be taken away from them.


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