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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Abortion in France: Private Letters and Public Debates, 1973-1975

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

The loi Veil that legalized abortion in 1975 marked a momentous victory for French feminists. Abortion was legal for the first time since it was made punishable in the 1810 Penal Code. The preceding two years set the stage for this social and political victory but are also key because Feminists challenged women’s experiences and defying anti-abortion laws. Their efforts during these two critical years represented a battle over changing social norms and transformed what could be discussed within the context of politics. French men and women challenged attitudes about sex and sexuality, the family, the role of health professionals and medicine in the lives of women and patriarchal structures. The feminist campaign for abortion rights argued that the 1920 law prohibiting abortion was outdated and failed to reflect the reality of women’s lives and that women had a right to control their own bodies.

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