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Simone Veil, Holocaust Survivor And Feminist, Dies At 89

Simone Veil, a French politician and Holocaust survivor who secured the legalization of abortion in France in the 1970s, died at her home in Paris on Friday, her family said. She was 89 years old.

A Jewish survivor of the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen with the prisoner number 78651 tattooed on her arm, she was a fervent European and fighter for civil liberties, becoming the first directly elected president of the European parliament in 1979.

President Emmanuel Macron offered his condolences.

“May her example inspire our fellow countrymen, who will find in her the best of France,” Macron said in a message to the family.

Her concentration camp experience turned her into a passionate advocate of European union but she was best known in France for legalizing abortion when she was health minister in 1974 under then President Valery Giscard d’Estaing..

Virtually unknown when she joined the cabinet, she fought doggedly against a hostile parliament and divided public opinion to push through a bill that became known as “the Veil Law,” making France the first mainly Roman Catholic country to legalize abortion.

Her whole family was arrested by the Germans during World War Two. Her father, mother and brother died in concentration camps.

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