CONTENT WARNING: This exhibit discusses issues of abortion and sexual assault.
The "Manifesto of the 343" was a petition signed by 343 French women publicly declaring that they had had an abortion. The manifesto was published in the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur on April 5, 1971. On April 5, 1971, three-hundred and forty-three women signed their names alongside a declaration that made them criminals. "One million women in France have abortions every year...I declare that I am one of them."(1)
At the time that the manifesto was published, abortion was illegal in France, making this petition an act of civil disobedience. The manifesto called for abortion to be legalized and better access to contraceptives. The publishing of the “Manifesto of the 343” is significant because it emphasizes the right to an abortion as a sociopolitical and economic issue as opposed to a private or individual issue. By taking abortion out of the private sphere and into the public political arena, they challenged gender roles by not only rejecting the duty of being a vessel for reproduction during a time when France was increasingly worried about its lack of population growth but by presenting abortion access as an issue of citizenship. By making reproductive freedom the central focus of the struggle for women's equal citizenship rights, these women brought the issue of abortion into the public sphere and ultimately were able to push the government into passing legislation to repeal the restrictions.
1. “The Manifesto of the 343”, Le Nouvel Observateur, no. 334, April 1971, 5.