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Francois Fillon
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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France’s ‘Catholic Right’ presidential candidate is not as pro-life as the media would have you believe

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

November 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The mainstream media are touting François Fillon, winner of the “Républicains” party primaries last week, as a truly “conservative” and pro-life candidate for France’s upcoming presidential election in May 2017.

Fillon had the support of a political spinoff of the “Manif pour tous,” Sens Commun, a sub-group in his own party. But is Fillon truly pro-life and pro-family? While the “Manif pour tous,” the grass-roots movement against same-sex “marriage” that put up to a million people in the streets in 2013 in support of natural marriage, has given Fillon its guarded approval, a closer look at his actions and declarations raise grave misgivings.

The most shocking stance he took days before Sunday’s vote was about abortion. When Alain Juppé, his contender in the second round, accused Fillon of wanting to restrict “abortion rights,” Fillon appeared to be shocked. Having on several occasions said he is not personally in favor of abortion, he has absolutely no intention of restricting access to it. As can be seen on this video, he responded angrily:

I could never have imagined that my friend Alain Juppé would sink so low. I have been a member of Parliament for 30 years. Have I ever, even once, taken a stand against abortion? Even only once? Have you ever seen in François Fillon’s political program, even once, anything about reconsidering the ‘loi Veil’ [the law that legalized abortion in France]? Never! There you are! The campaign should regain its dignity, an end must be put to this unspeakable controversy, because frankly, it’s degrading.

On October 27, he had said on public television: “No one will ever go back on abortion. I cannot be required to explain my religious convictions. I am capable of making a difference between these convictions and the public interest. I consider that it is in the public interest not to open up this debate once more.”

Some 200,000 to 220,000 unborn babies are killed by legal abortion in France each year.

Nonetheless, of the seven candidates vying to be the official “center-right” nominee, Fillon is not the worst. Juppé, former Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac who is famous for having said “I say no to a moral law that would take precedence over civil law,” has a disastrous voting record and is personally in favor of abortion, public funding of the French Planned Parenthood Association, a middle of the road approach to euthanasia, and teaching gender ideology in schools. In that sense, Fillon appears as a lesser evil, or as some pro-lifers in France put it: “a lesser worse.”

Indeed, not a single declared candidate for the presidential election is in favor of dismantling the existing abortion law.

Fillon is opposed to surrogate motherhood and said so at the National Assembly in June, supporting the ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Valérie Boyer of the Républicains to outlaw the practice. He is in favor of restricting access to in vitro fertilization by law, reserving it to sterile “heterosexual couples.” He says he is opposed to the mandatory teaching of gender ideology in secondary schools, but he was former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Prime Minister when the subject was officially added to the compulsory curriculum. He also promised to give more tax relief to families with numerous children and to restore universal child benefits, both of which were downplayed by the outgoing socialist government under President François Hollande but also, to a lesser extent, by Sarkozy’s own government.

As for same-sex “marriage,” Fillon is not willing to strike down the so-called “Taubira law,” named after the justice minister who defended the text. But he is against homosexuals fully adopting a child yet allowing them to resort to simple adoption, a reversible process that still places the child under the authority of “two mothers” or “two fathers.” This is a totally ineffectual stance because the European Court of Human Rights has often made clear that while the member States of the Council of Europe are fully entitled to restrict marriage to a man and a woman, on the other hand in whatever legal framework they choose to make available to both same-sex and heterosexual couples, all must have the same rights. If a man and a woman can adopt in a civil union or in a marriage that is open to same-sex couples, then these must be able to adopt also, according to the Court’s jurisprudence.

These points were underscored by the official communiqué of the “Manif pour tous” hailing Fillon’s victory on Sunday night. After 4 1/2 years of incessant pounding of family benefits and the dismantling of what was left of the rights of the unborn, his propositions appear to some as a relief. Many conservative – or should we say “conventional” – Catholics backed the clean-cut, somewhat insignificant provincial Fillon as a reassuring figurehead.

The vote was partly tactical, aimed at choosing – the story goes – the candidate with the best possible odds against the yet to be chosen socialist candidate, or Marine Le Pen of the Front national, although this was counterbalanced by the fact that all registered voters could participate in the “Républicain’s” primary, which means a number of the socialists and FN followers also took part, in view of favoring the least dangerous adversary for their own camps.

This left Jean-Frédéric Poisson, leader of the Christian Democrats with a far better platform in regard to same-sex “marriage,” abortion, euthanasia, artificial procreation, and education rights, including better rights for independent schools, out in the cold. During the first round of the election on November 20, he obtained a scanty 1.5 percent as opposed to Fillon’s unexpected 44 percent, well ahead of Juppé, who was second with 28.6 percent.

Poisson, with about 65.000 votes in the first round against Fillon’s 1,765,000, appears as the marginal candidate of a marginalized sociological group even though his platform should have made him the natural leader of the much more significant “Manif pour tous” electorate. The “Manif pour tous” leaders, however, including Ludovine de La Rochère, did not support Poisson.

This is not totally out of tune. During the same-sex “marriage” debate, many leaders of the “Manif pour tous” worked overtime to not appear as “homophobic,” speaking often and well of a child’s right to a mother and a father but refusing to claim homosexuality is “disordered.” The “Manif pour tous” also systematically refuses to enter into the abortion debate, judging that open opposition to the killing of unborn children would be damaging to their main objectives.

The Fondation Jérôme-Lejeune published a classification of the seven candidates several weeks before the primary vote, in which Fillon appears as far from ideal.

His record shows that he chose to be absent when the National Assembly voted for the lifting of existing conditions in order to obtain an abortion, when the socialists decided a women need not prove she is in distress while simultaneously putting heavier sanctions on “hampering an abortion.” Fillon voted for a resolution calling access to abortion a “fundamental right” in November 2014.

Once again, Fillon chose to be absent when dispositions of the new law on health eliminated the cooling-off period of one week for women asking for an abortion, established abortion quotas in hospitals and clinics, allowed abortion procedures to take place in local health centers, and allowed midwives to perform abortions.

Fillon was also absent from the National Assembly on the day voting took place in November 2014 on a text aiming to prevent French citizens to take steps to obtain a surrogate mother abroad.

He voted for the “End of life” law last February, extending the shift toward legalized euthanasia in France.

And while he voted against allowing embryo research when Parliament debated a socialist text in August 2013, he chose to be absent from the Assembly when a new law in 2016 extended the possibility of embryo research during artificial procreation procedures.

As for Planned Parenthood funding, the Fillon government decided to reduce it drastically in 2009. Protests by Planned Parenthood soon made Fillon and his team change their minds, and all funding was restored in March 2010.

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