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‘Natalist injunctions’: Macron sparks uproar with call to revive France’s birth rate

In World
January 18, 2024

President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to revive France’s sluggish birth rate sparked an outcry on Wednesday, with feminists and left-wing politicians accusing him of seeking to control women’s bodies.

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During a press conference on Tuesday, Macron said France needed to pursue what he called “demographic rearmament”.

The president pledged to offer a better parental leave and combat infertility – which he called “the taboo of the century”.

“Leave our uteruses alone,” Anne-Cecile Mailfert, head of the Women’s Foundation, said on X, formerly Twitter.

The CIDFF, an association that helps women and families, expressed “deep concern.”

“The implementation of natalist policies, profoundly contrary to the autonomy of women, constitutes a worrying political and social regression,” the association said.

Left-wing politicians also slammed the proposals.

“Women’s bodies are not a weapon,” said Alexis Corbière, a lawmaker with the left-wing France Unbowed (LFI) party.

In her criticism of Macron’s plan, Green party leader Marine Tondelier evoked Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” portraying a dystopian future in which women are enslaved by men.

The spokesman for the Socialist party in parliament, Arthur Delaporte, denounced “natalist injunctions”.

By contrast, the far-right National Rally (RN) welcomed the pledge to boost birth rates, with spokesman Philippe Ballard calling for a “family ministry” in France.

Last year, France registered 678,000 births, a drop of 6.6 percent from the previous year. It was the lowest annual rate since World War II.

French lawmakers on Wednesday took a first step towards anchoring access to abortion in the French constitution. The legislation would offer women a “guaranteed freedom” to end pregnancies – stopping short of a full right to abortion.


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