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 a Nazi death camp at Ravensbruck 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.
Although out of the national limelight since 2007 when she left her seat at France’s top constitutional court, she commanded wide respect across the political spectrum and remained among the most popular politicians in opinion polls.
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.
Born in Nice, France on July 13, 1927, she was elected the first woman president of the European Parliament in 1979, where she remained until 1982.
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.