Three French women's movement leaders appealed for American support last night at a teach-in at MIT.
Claude Servan-Schreiber, Michele Chevalier and Gisele Halimi spoke about repressive abortion laws in France and about women's efforts to change them.
Servan-Schreiber, a leader of Choisir, a French abortion rights organization, praised the recent pro-abortion decision of the United States Supreme Court. But she added, "You have succeeded where we have not yet succeeded."
There is an almost total ban on abortions in France, she explained, and contraceptives are not widely used because it is against the law to publicize them.
The Bobigny trial of Michele Chevalier and her daughter Marie-Claire has made abortion a public issue in France recently. Until now, repressive laws have kept articles on abortion out of the newspapers, Servan-Schreiber explained.
She added that Choisir is hoping for public debate on the abortion issue in the new Parliament. But she said, "Abortion, although we have tried, has not been a major issue in this campaign."
Chevalier told the group that her actions in defying the law and standing trial were for herself and her daughter and all women everywhere.
The Boston Women's Abortion Action Coalition (BOWAAC) sponsored the teach-in in observance of International Women's Day. Jane Roland, a former coordinator of BOWAAC, said that the first International Women's Day was March 8, 1911. It was a day for demonstrations by women around the world who were fighting for the right to vote.
She added, "Today, we celebrate the second major legal victory for women ... the right to abortion."