Pro-choice Demonstraters Protest Spanish Abortion Legislation in Paris

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PARIS – Pro-choice demonstrators assembled in the thousands Saturday afternoon in Paris to protest proposed Spanish legislation that would significantly curtail access to abortion services.

Planning Familial, the organizers of the French protests, reported a force of 30,000 in Paris, and a total of 40,000 across France.

The demonstration began at 2 p.m. with an assembly at Place Joffre, across the Champs de Mars from the Eiffel Tower, and ended at the Spanish Embassy across the Seine, a mile and a half away.

Anna Trifi, a student in Paris who attended the protests, said she felt Saturday’s demonstration could demonstrate the type of solidarity necessary for the Spanish government to rethink the proposals. She said that she views the right of access to an abortion in the context of the larger feminist objective of self-determination.

“They suppress the right of access to the abortion by restricting the conditions,” she said of Spain’s proposed legislation. “They make the conditions so that the woman’s life has to be in danger, and it has to be clinically proved. It’s not about the woman. She doesn’t have power over that decision.”

Photo: Henry Gargan for La Jeune Politique Pro-choice demonstrators walk from the École Militaire metro station to Place Joffre shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday.

Photo: Henry Gargan for La Jeune Politique
Pro-choice demonstrators walk from the École Militaire metro station to Place Joffre shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday.

The marchers emphasized this belief as well as their concerns about the potential danger of restricting access to safe abortions. Many of the protestors fashioned signs out of coat hangers, or simply hung them around their necks — a symbol meant to call attention to the often-crude forms of recourse available in the absence of medically sanctioned abortion services. “Avortement sans conditions — gratuit, libre, sans délais, et pour toutes” (“Abortion without conditions – free, free, without delay and for all”) one sign read. “A bas le patriarcat” (“Down with patriarchy”) read another.

The Spanish legislation would ban abortions except in cases when pregnancy threatens a woman’s life. In France, Trifi said, abortion is supposedly readily available, but more difficult to access in practice. Women must submit to a seven-day waiting period before proceeding with treatment.

Recent legislation on the state level in the United States has taken a similar tack of imposing increasingly strict conditions upon those who seek abortions in the absence of a federal overturn of abortion’s legality. In Texas and North Carolina, bills have proposed limitations that would effectively ban abortions not performed at major hospitals. This could leave some women, especially in sprawling Texas, hundreds of miles away from access to safe service.

In North Carolina, a law that required women to have a narrated ultrasound before electing to have an abortion was only recently struck down. Trifi said this sort of treatment is emblematic of the sexism still faced by women.

“In everyday life, as a woman — and as a man, you can see it too — there is a big, big discrepancy between men and women in everyday treatment,” Trifi said. “It happens in the way we are talked to, and in everyday life you feel that you are put into a specific role which is a predetermined one. It doesn’t correspond to my choice.”

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  1. […] Pro-choice demonstraters protest Spanish abortion legislation in Paris. Pro-choice demonstrators assembled in the thousands Saturday afternoon in Paris to protest proposed Spanish legislation that would significantly curtail access to abortion servicees. Planning Familial, the organizers of the French protests, reported a force of 30,000 in Paris, and a total of 40,000 across France. The demonstration began at 2 p.m. with an assembly at Place Joffre, across the Champs de Mars from the Eiffel Tower, and ended at the Spanish Embassy across the Seine, a mile and a half away. […]

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