In French politics, abortion remains on the back burner
December 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — With a presidential election coming up in May, the “Catholic” factor has made an unexpected reappearance in French politics – the “Manif pour tous” effect” has been at work.
Repeated massive demonstrations against same-sex “marriage” in 2012 and 2013 have convinced hundreds of thousands of mostly right-wing Catholic voters that their voice can and should be heard. Their sheer numbers were surely crucial for the choice of François Fillon during the French “right and center primary election” in November, all the more because in the last weeks leading up to the vote he stressed his “pro-family” stance, promising to “rewrite” the same-sex “marriage” law.
But the occasionally practicing Catholic has announced that he will keep same-sex “marriage” legal, removing only the right to full adoption, and he also remains passionately committed to leaving abortion legal and free, funded by the state. A flawed candidate indeed, but the primary campaign has brought these “social issues” to the fore, revealing the depths to which pro-life politics have fallen in France.
Characteristic of the situation is the position of the Front National, Marine Le Pen’s nationalist party. The Front National was formerly committed to revoking the law that made abortion legal in France in 1975. Since Marine succeeded her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, at the head of the party, it has slowly but surely moved away from this principled stand.
In an interview in 2005, Marine Le Pen told me that she wanted to create a pro-life environment in France that would make abortion next to unknown. But when I pressed her to be more precise, she admitted that she had no intention of revoking the “loi Veil” of 1975. Women would only go to Switzerland or some other foreign place to abort, she explained.
Through the years, Marine Le Pen and her strategic lieutenant, Florian Philippot, were to repeat in more and more stringent terms that abortion is a “right”.
Days after the “right and center primary” in November, when the French lawmakers were debating about a new law criminalizing websites aiming to dissuade women from abortion, the abortion debate resurfaced in the media, showing that not a single large party that can expect to send deputies to the National Assembly in the legislative election next June is willing to question the legality of abortion in France.
With more than 200.000 victims a year, this is nothing short of tragic.
A heated dispute even cropped up between Marine Le Pen and her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, currently the youngest member of the French National Assembly, when Marion, in an interview with the French daily Présent, that now unreservedly backs Marine Le Pen, spoke about the funding of abortion by French taxpayers. She wants to back away from “total and unlimited refunding of abortion, because women are responsible beings who should be treated as such.”
This does not amount to much because it implies women should either avoid getting pregnant by existing means – in France, where contraceptive coverage is close to 80 percent and funded by social security, such a statement obviously refers to contraception – or pay for their failure to do so by financing their own (legal) abortion. It doesn’t in the least present abortion as the abominable crime it unquestionably is, nor does it touch upon the moral and psychological suffering abortion so often brings to women who resort to abortion for whatever reason. Another fact deserves to be mentioned: In France, abortion rates have risen together with “better” contraceptive coverage. In other words, more contraception equals more abortion.
But it was already too much for Marine Le Pen, who immediately called her niece to order, publicly reminding her and the press that this proposal “is not in the National Front’s program for 2017.” It must be added that Marion Maréchal-Le Pen did not vote for an amendment aiming to stop public funding of abortion in January 2014, probably so as not to contradict the party line.
A few days ago, Marine Le Pen brought the subject up again in a renewed attack on her niece, saying the question of abortion is “lunar” – about as removed from their current concerns as the moon – and that the French would not understand “bickering” and “chicanery” about the subject.
She went on to acknowledge that before she was elected to the head of the National Front in 2012 she had publicly spoken in favor of defunding elective “convenience” abortions. But her election changed all that, she now affirms, even though it was a stance that helped her against challenger Bruno Gollnisch, who clearly represented a true pro-life position.
“It was a kind of concession to those who had chosen Gollnisch. … Today, this debate is closed. I have no concessions to make, or at least not any more because since then I have been re-elected as head of the National Front with 100 percent of the vote in 2014,” she said, in a commentary the conservative French press called “cynical.”
Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, in an interview she gave to a regional newspaper in Provence in March 2014, said clearly: “We are not in favor of reconsidering the legality of abortion, nor are we in favor of defunding it. The only question we asked at the presidential election [in 2012] was that of abuses, so-called “recurring abortions,” about which we only brought up a question relating to their full reimbursement. I think this is related to respect for women, who are responsible beings and should be treated as such.”
This is more or less what she declared to Présent last week, but this time round the party line has moved away from her and she is being formally reminded not to cross it.
At the same time, Jean-Frédéric Poisson, the most obviously Catholic candidate who was ousted from the primary election with a mere 1.5 percent of the vote – many voting for François Fillon who was perceived as having a better chance against even less palatable candidates – is personally “philosophically” pro-life, as he said in an interview with the Catholic periodical “Monde et vie” this week, but also refuses to contemplate outlawing abortion “for a lot of reasons”, he said.
This has always been the position of the Christian Democrat Party of which he is currently the leader, reducing the political pro-life combat in France to fighting for a right to conscientious objection and marginal readjustments of the law, as well as calling for more help and support for pregnant women.
These reasons are unfortunately all too clear. Accepting legal abortion has truly become an “admission ticket” to posts of responsibility in French politics, with very few exceptions such as that of the mayor of Orange and deputy to the National Assembly, Jacques Bompard. For Marine Le Pen, committing not to de-legalize abortion equated with increased acceptance in the French media: National Front figureheads are now among the most frequently invited personalities on political shows. She is still committed to repealing the same-sex “marriage” law but has promised in return to improve the existing civil union law created to accommodate homosexuals. Freedom of education is not an obvious part of her platform.
Strangely enough, a number of the traditionally minded Catholics included in the historic National Front electorate has swallowed it all, line, hook and sinker. The underlying idea is that with the problems France is facing, such as massive Islamic immigration, the pressure of the European Union and unemployment, abortion and freedom of education can wait.
A rash point of view: If immigration is the problem it has become, it is also because of abortion, which has killed at the very least 8 million unborn babies in France since 1975. Today, that is equal to the number of Muslims living in France.
The real question is about getting one’s priorities right: Is it acceptable to pay the price for playing on the political game board at the cost of visible, unwavering personal opposition to legal genocide? Pope Benedict XVI answered the question by reminding Catholics that there are “non-negotiable moral principles.” Healthy and just societies are the result of their respect.