The March for Life group announced "record" figures for its 9th March for Life held on Sunday, 19 January in Paris. Between 16,000 (according to the police) and 40,000 people (according to the organisers) marched in recognition of changes in Spanish legislation and to denounce French regression in terms of liberalising abortion.
The success of this year’s event can be attributed to the current political agenda. "Supporters were more determined than ever this year to drive home the political and social messages of recent months on family and bioethical issues: the Taubira law, MAP (medically assisted procreation)-surrogacy, tests on human embryos, euthanasia and the gender theory, etc.". This is heightened by the draft law currently being debated in the Assembly and focusing on equality between men and women, two amendments to which are viewed as controversial. The first focuses on removing the notion of distress which, according to Cécile Edel, Chairperson of the Choisir la Vie (Pro-Life) group would lead to the "total trivialisation of abortion and denial to the right to life entrenched in the civil code". The second, which considers any obstruction of information on abortion as an offence, punishable with 2 years in prison and a fine of 300,000 Euros, threatens the freedom of expression. "The notion of exception, based on 1975 legislation, is tending to disappear. Further to legislation passed in 2001, pregnancies can be terminated up to the 12th as opposed to the 10th week and the ‘psycho-social interview’ is no longer obligatory for adults. As for minors, from now on they can request an abortion without parental consent".
This year, the March for Life donned "Spanish colours" and included political personalities from beyond the Pyrenees. For instance, Luis Péral, Senator and Secretary-General of the Family and Human Dignity association put in an appearance. Interviewed about events in Spain, he declared that "[their] law is progressive. It defends the right to life. The right to abort does not exist". The restriction on abortion was another promise by the Rajoy campaign. Other personalities such as José Eugenio Azpiroz Villar and Javier Puente, Members of the Popular Party and even Benigno Blanco, former Secretary of State during the Aznar Government, were also present. During the March, participants celebrated the "forward-thinking" initiative of the Spanish Government.
In its press release, the group highlighted these demands:
"– The withdrawal of amendments made on the quiet to the draft bill regarding equality between men and women debated by the Assembly from 20 January onwards and aimed at removing the state of distress as a condition for abortion and extending a punishable offence to abortion.
– The discontinuation of discriminatory prenatal selection practices developed essentially in France in relation to children with Downs syndrome.
– Recognition by the public authorities of the dramatic reality of abortion and the introduction of a genuine policy to help pregnant women in difficulty who wish to continue their pregnancy."
March for Life participants received support from Pope Francis, via spokesperson Monsignor Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio, just a few days away from his meeting with President François Hollande.