Simone Veil fought for women’s rights as a member of the French Parliament, and the 1975 law allowing women the right to an abortion bears her name. Veil earned her BA from the Nice lycée in 1944, two days before she and her family were arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Only she and her sisters survived. After the war, she returned to France and earned degrees in law and political science. She worked as an attorney and as a civil servant in the Ministry of Justice, where she reformed conditions in women’s prisons and fought to grant women full parental rights. In 1974, she was appointed Minister of Health, the first female minister in the French Parliament. During her fight to make contraception and abortion legal and available, Veil faced attacks that included swastikas painted on her building and opponents likening abortion to the Holocaust. In 1979, she became the first woman president of the European Parliament, returning to the French Parliament in 1993 in various cabinet posts. From 1998-2007 she served on the highest legal authority in France, the Conseil Constituionnel. She has been honored for her work for women, world peace, and Holocaust remembrance.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Simone Veil." (Viewed on February 21, 2017) <https://jwa.org/people/veil-simone>.