when the “Manifesto of 343” caused a scandal

Fifty years after the publication of the resounding Manifesto of 343, whose signatories claimed to have aborted and demanded this right, a documentary reviews its development, showing the courage and daring of the women who were actors.

On Wednesday April 7, 2021 at 8:50 p.m., the Histoire TV channel broadcasts the fascinating documentary by Valérie Jourdan and Adeline Laffitte: Le Manifeste des 343, behind the scenes of a scandal. Returning to this manifesto published fifty years ago in the Nouvel Observateur, the film brings out the voices of those who were at the origin of the text, which made it possible to advance French law by breaking the abortion taboo. .

The idea comes from Nicole Muchnik and Jean Moreau. The first is a young journalist in revolt to learn that “abortionists were under the law at that time”. The second, the head of the documentation service of the Nouvel Observateur. The manifesto is written by Simone de Beauvoir, met through the intervention of Anne Zelensky, of the Women’s Liberation Movement (MLF). 343 personalities will sign it, from Catherine Deneuve to the feminist sociologist Christine Delphy. The carriers of the text thus highlight the fact that “all women have an abortion, including the wives of deputies and the mistresses of ministers; only they do not say it”, as proclaimed by lawyer and activist Gisèle Halimi. No woman signatory will be prosecuted thanks to the impact of the text.

The documentary raises awareness of the horror of underground abortions, with “live curettages” (without anesthesia) and induced miscarriages to be able to go to the hospital for legal treatment. The stories of these women recall that in the 20th century, women died of clandestine abortions and pay tribute to the courage of the signatories, some of whom were rejected by their families or their employers. The testimonies show how much the question of the contraceptive burden fell on women, who lived in terror of becoming pregnant. At the time, the decrees of the Neuwirth law on contraception had still not been published and barely 6% of French women took the pill in 1971. The law decriminalizing abortion was not voted in the Senate until January 17. 1975.

A fight that continues today

Fifty years later, 343 personalities signed a new forum to request an extension of the legal period for abortion, so that it goes from twelve to fourteen weeks. From Marina Foïs to Léa Drucker via Clémentine Autain, these women are once again asking for the right to dispose of their bodies. Because when the twelve-week deadline is exceeded, those who do not have the means to benefit from more favorable legislation abroad are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Ghada Hatem, gynecologist at the Maison des Femmes of the Delafontaine hospital in Saint-Denis in the Paris region, underlines the difficulties still present in France today for women who do not wish to carry a pregnancy to term. “Currently it seems that the reflex is: she wants an abortion, she is going to shit”, she declared in Release on April 3, 2021.

To read also: Ghada Hatem: “it is urgent to extend by 15 days the legal deadline for abortion”

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The full text is available on the Family Planning website and accompanied by a petition that we can sign here.
The Manifesto of the 343, behind the scenes of a scandal will be followed by another documentary on Simone Veil, which measures the imprint left by this great politician: the abortion law that bears her name, her fight for Europe as well as her action for the duty of remembrance of The Shoah.

Mathilde Wattecamps

Missions: Mathilde is an expert in subjects related to women’s rights and health. Addicted to Instagram and Twitter, never stingy with a good …