Demonstrations against abortion in France, towards a return to the past

Four months after the decision of the Supreme Court in the United States, many demonstrations have been held in France. Until now, demonstrations were in favor of abortion but Sunday 2nd October 2022, in Lyon hundreds of people gathered against the abortion law. Is this movement the beginning of a schema of what happened in several countries like the USA ?
Manifestation Anti-IVG Lyon
Demonstration against abortion in Lyon, Sunday 2nd October 2022. @Le Progrès

“ Macron, Macron, Macron don’t touch the embryos”

Between 500 and 1000 people have brandished proudly cards against abortion this Sunday the 2nd in Lyon. This initiative was born with the collective “ En marche pour la vie”. They fought against the law of January 17th, 1975 relative to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. 

The start scheduled at 4 pm, was the beginning of testimony and criticisms about abortion. A lot of women talked about their experiences and above all, their “regrets”. Many of them stated that “ this act (abortion) does not cure suffering as one might think”. 

18, 20, 22 years old, most of these activists are young. This demonstration in the french metropole is a proof that questioning abortion is really important for the young generation. To them, the embryos “are the future, we can’t kill them”.

A lot of cards send the same message. @BoulevardVoltaire

Like in every gathering, slogans are more than present “ life is beautiful at 14 too”, or “babies lives’ matter”. The message is clear, they want to protect newborn babies. They are completely opposed to women who want to preserve this right. One obvious slogan shows this opposition “it’s not up to us to choose if we keep it or not”, whereas the other party defends “my body my choice”

Without any scruples, the president of the collective didn’t hesitate to assume the slogan who describe the abortion as a “genocide”. For him “this pratice isn’t more serious than the 2nd world war but it remains serious.”

But this collective is not the only one fighting against this law. Another walk is planned Sunday 22nd of January 2023 in Paris. 

Destroy the struggles of the past 

Everywhere in the world, the right of abortion is being threatened. In Hungary, in Poland, in the United States and also in Italy, where this right is threatened since the election of Giorgia Meloni. The Supreme Court’s decision in June in the USA had the effect of a bomb. Indeed, the justices decided to revoke the right of American women to abort, which was guaranteed for nearly 50 years by the Roe v Wade decision. 

Whether it is Roe v Wade or Simone Veil, both of them fought for this women’s right. Nevertheless, this new era with news governments shows that things change a lot. If the abortion law was built on solid foundation, today it is not so sure. 

Before 1975, the abortion was forbidden in France, women did it clandestinely. The law liberalizing this practice was defended by Simon Veil. But today her ideas aren’t followed by everyone. 

Demonstration for the right to abortion and contraception in the streets of Grenoble, in 1973. @RTL

In the United States, the abortion has not always been allowed. In 1969, in Texas this practice was perceived as a crime unless the pregnancy was life-threatening. At that time, only 4 out of 50 states permitted the abortion. It was necessary to wait until a woman protested to make the Supreme Court think about this law. And, January 22nd, 1973 abortion was recognized as a right protected by the US Constitution. But June 2022 shows that things are not permanent. 

Through years, a lot of innovations have been born, evolution is inevitable as we move forward in time. But taking a step backwards and questioning past decisions does not always put everyone in agreement.

The demonstrations of this era show a beginning of change. People’s thoughts are much different than before. Governments of some countries impose unthinkable things. Since September, in Hungary women are forced to listen the heart of the fœtus before having an abortion. 

In France, demonstrations have not yet had enough power to change things, but if they multiply it can have an impact. For the moment, the French government seems to support the right to abord. Some deputies hinted a desire to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution but it didn’t work out. 

A declining practice

In France, the number of abortions is decreasing among the youngest women. According to a study by Dress (Direction de la Recherche, des Études, de l’Évaluation et des Statistiques), the decline is particularly notable for women aged 18 and 19, for whom the utilization rate fell from 21.5 per 1,000 in 2014 to 17.2 in 2019 and then to 14.3 in 2021. Is there an explanation or these numbers explain the presence of young people in the protest in Lyon ? The main reason seem to be the sanitary crisis. 

Today, there is one explanation but all the demonstrations against the abortion could be the beginning of a second reason. And the beginning of a question : are abortion rights’ opponents winning the battle ?

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