Marie-Claire Chevalier, Catalyst for French Abortion Legislation, Dies at 66

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“I say it, gents: I’m a lawyer who broke the regulation,” she declared in courtroom. She acquired a disciplinary summons however maintained in subsequent appearances that she had accomplished the suitable factor, asserting, “Typically it’s obligatory to interrupt the regulation to maneuver ahead and produce a few change in society.”

Ms. Chevalier was acquitted as a result of she was thought-about to have suffered from “ethical, social and household constraints that she couldn’t resist,” the web site of France’s justice ministry mentioned.

When the decision was rendered, she was fined 500 francs and launched, whereas activists chanted her identify within the streets. 4 others, together with her mom, had been charged as accomplices and have been absolved.

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The case, with its younger protagonist and its high-profile lawyer, grew to become a trigger célèbre and a catalyst within the feminist marketing campaign to overturn the regulation. Amongst those that joined was Simone Veil, the French well being minister and a survivor of Auschwitz, who endured an avalanche of non-public assaults however saved pushing for change. And on Jan. 17, 1975, France enacted the Veil Legislation, decriminalizing abortion.

This was two years after the U.S. Supreme Courtroom had legalized abortion in america in Roe v. Wade. As in France, it had taken a pregnant girl, a Dallas waitress named Norma McCorvey, beneath the pseudonym Jane Roe, to problem the regulation and obtain a significant victory for ladies.

Though Ms. Chevalier was pleased with the impact her case had had, she loathed the publicity and shunned the notion of exploiting it for fame or revenue. “It’s not my type to construct on what has screwed me up,” she mentioned in a uncommon interview in 2019, with the French newspaper Libération.

Nonetheless, her story has been packaged and repackaged for public consumption in a radio collection, a tv film and theatrical productions, together with a play in 2019 on the Comédie-Française referred to as “Hors la Loi” (“Outlaw”). A blue metallic footbridge in entrance of the Bobigny courtroom was devoted in her identify.

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