FRANCE – Anti-abortion message posted on thousands of public bicycles across Paris ; + Statement: Those who think abortion isn’t threatened in France must open their eyes

Anti-abortion message posted on thousands of free, public bicycles across Paris

The message was posted overnight on most of the Vélib bicycles between 24 and 25 May. Behind this campaign was the anti-abortion Survivors Collective, who wrote on their website: “Let’s give every unborn child a chance to be happy: faced with the complexity of a situation, let’s tackle the determinisms. Let him try the adventure of life! Young people have revolted in the face of the suffering and injustice caused by abortion, the Survivors will not be silent.”

To the amazement for pedestrians as well as users, most of the 20,000 free, self-service Vélib bicycles on stands all over Paris had the sticker on them by the morning of 25 May. They had this anti-abortion message on them: “And if you had let him live?”, with a drawing of a fetus becoming a baby and then a [happy] cyclist.

A lot of people reacted. “It… is a scandalous message. It disgusts me… It makes me want to get off my Vélib,” said Claire, in the 15th arrondissement.

In fact, advertising of any kind on public service bicycles is strictly prohibited. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said she would take action to ensure this would never happen again. The management of Vélib strongly condemned the action and said it was not authorised by them and they would file a complaint. Many other public figures condemned the action and called for it to be prosecuted.

The Survivors began in 2016. They describe themselves as the children of women who had abortions of one or more of their siblings. Their members are used to communications shots, which they have mastered to perfection. They are often said to be close to the extreme right, a claim they always defend themselves against.

The head of the Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial, Sarah Durocher, said: “It’s a new attack on women’s rights and the right to abortion, and it shows they have the funding and the means at their disposal to carry out such a campaign…. We have been fighting for months to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution and often we are told that it is not threatened. We can clearly see that this is not the case, and repeated attacks like this should not be underestimated.”

SOURCE: Le Parisien, 25 May 2023 + PHOTO: Twitter, 25 May 2023, 7:50am / 1.7 million views


Those who think abortion isn’t threatened in France must open their eyes: Statement, 1 June 2023

It’s not women who are fragile, it’s their rights:
International Women’s Day, Paris, 8 March 2023

The massive and coordinated action carried out in Paris by opponents of the right to abortion on 25 May reminds us of the urgency of the inclusion of this right in the French Constitution. Indeed, the right to abortion would thus be established as a fundamental right, essential for the individual and concretisation of equality between the sexes, which would constitute an additional protection in the face of always possible challenges.

Faced with the virulence of its opponents, the constitutionalisation effort is bogged down… The process was initiated in Parliament on 24 November 2022, and the National Assembly passed the bill, which stipulates that “the law guarantees the effectiveness and equal access to the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy”. The Senate, however, voted on 1 February, to support a different text: “The law determines the conditions under which a woman is free to end her pregnancy.”

The two texts are not equivalent: one guarantees a right and equality before that right. The other recalls what the law always does – lists the conditions of its exercise — and takes up the term freedom, much more subjective than that of a right.…

Note that the two parliamentary chambers must adopt the same text, down to the comma. And what is the government doing?

Macron spoke out for the introduction of the right to abortion in the Constitution, but he also said he wanted to “leave room for parliamentary initiative”, a way of not getting personally involved. He did something similar previously when the upper time limit for abortion was increased, which almost got bogged down several times.

Too many obstacles
But there are other insidious ways to attack the right to abortion, if health policy restricts the material and human means to enforce the law. Fewer clinics providing abortion, less proximity for women requesting an abortion, allocating fewer healthcare personnel, less choice of method, not combating shortages in the supply of pills necessary for medical abortions: all of these conditions restrict access to abortion.

So what do we want? We want the needs of all women to be taken into account, for them to find simple, local solutions, by having the choice of the abortion method – which notably implies the reopening of hospitals and local maternity wards that are currently closed. We want state medical aid (AME) not to be abolished; that all steps necessary for an abortion are 100% covered, to avoid any social or geographic inequality; that the caregiver can no longer hide behind a specific conscience clause, and therefore that the life choice of women who request an abortion must be respected.

We want the Gaillot law of February 2022, allowing midwives to provide surgical abortions, to be published finally; that information accessible to the general public is regularly updated, both in schools and in the world of work. And finally, we want caregivers, doctors and midwives to be trained not only in medical and surgical techniques, depending on the length of the pregnancy, but also in listening and empathy. So that they are able to provide support, not just prescribe.

Drafted by the Collective “Abortion in Europe – Women Decide” and with a long list and wide range of feminist, trade union, and other rights groups as signatories.

SOURCE: Liberation, 1 June 2023 (en français, excerpts above translated)