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Sarah Durocher

President of Le Planning Familial (France)

Sarah Durocher is President of the Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial, commonly known as 'Le Planning Familial'. She has been a member of the organization since she was 17 years old. As a feminist activist, she has been fighting for sexual and reproductive rights, women's rights and the rights of LGBTQI+ people in France for over 20 years. Sarah spent the first part of her career as a counsellor and CSE educator at a local family planning center.

Articles by Sarah Durocher

MPs and Feminist organizations in front of the Parliament
26 February 2024

Will France Vote to Enshrine Abortion Rights in the Constitution?

The enshrinement of the right to abortion in the French Constitution has been a historic demand of feminist organizations since I can remember. But for the past decade, this demand has had little resonance with the French population. Many felt that the Constitution would not have to be invoked to defend this right. I would even go so far as to say that many thought that this right was not at risk. But then, two years ago, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and everything changed. Millions of people suddenly realized that, unfortunately, the right to abortion can be won and then lost. It's an ongoing battle. On 28 February, France’s Parliament will make its final decision on whether or not to pass the constitutional abortion bill. To succeed, we need the support of the international community.   The COVID crisis and the need to expand access to abortion To understand the impact of the US Supreme Court's decision on France, it is necessary to look at the context of abortion rights advocacy in our country. During the COVID crisis, the Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial - commonly known as 'Le Planning Familial' - joined forces with feminist associations, health professionals and Members of Parliament to ensure access to abortion care during lockdown. Our mobilization triggered an increase in media coverage of the issue: women of all ages began to share their own abortion stories. Thanks to their courage, we managed to bring to light the existing obstacles to access abortion in France. We focused our advocacy on one main barrier: the legal time limit - 12 weeks of pregnancy - to access abortion. We knew that some women would not be able to get an abortion within this time because of the lockdown.  Pregnant women reached out to us by calling our national hotline and our local centers as they were unable to leave their homes because of domestic violence, as well as minors. We knew that, by the time the lockdown was over, they would have exceeded the abortion time limits and would be forced to continue through pregnancies against their will. Over the months, our advocacy campaign evolved into a demand for a legal change to permanently extend the time limit for accessing abortion care in France. It was a long political battle. We celebrated a great victory on 2 March 2022: abortion time limits were extended by two weeks. It was at this point that we saw a significant increase in support: French people who had previously been silent on the issue of abortion began to speak out.  Meanwhile, the anti-choice and anti-rights groups intensified its attacks against us. In the space of a few months, they broke down the doors, the windows and the locks of many of our local centers. Online and in-person threats were sent to our members across France.

MPs and Feminist organizations in front of the Parliament
26 February 2024

Will France Vote to Enshrine Abortion Rights in the Constitution?

The enshrinement of the right to abortion in the French Constitution has been a historic demand of feminist organizations since I can remember. But for the past decade, this demand has had little resonance with the French population. Many felt that the Constitution would not have to be invoked to defend this right. I would even go so far as to say that many thought that this right was not at risk. But then, two years ago, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and everything changed. Millions of people suddenly realized that, unfortunately, the right to abortion can be won and then lost. It's an ongoing battle. On 28 February, France’s Parliament will make its final decision on whether or not to pass the constitutional abortion bill. To succeed, we need the support of the international community.   The COVID crisis and the need to expand access to abortion To understand the impact of the US Supreme Court's decision on France, it is necessary to look at the context of abortion rights advocacy in our country. During the COVID crisis, the Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial - commonly known as 'Le Planning Familial' - joined forces with feminist associations, health professionals and Members of Parliament to ensure access to abortion care during lockdown. Our mobilization triggered an increase in media coverage of the issue: women of all ages began to share their own abortion stories. Thanks to their courage, we managed to bring to light the existing obstacles to access abortion in France. We focused our advocacy on one main barrier: the legal time limit - 12 weeks of pregnancy - to access abortion. We knew that some women would not be able to get an abortion within this time because of the lockdown.  Pregnant women reached out to us by calling our national hotline and our local centers as they were unable to leave their homes because of domestic violence, as well as minors. We knew that, by the time the lockdown was over, they would have exceeded the abortion time limits and would be forced to continue through pregnancies against their will. Over the months, our advocacy campaign evolved into a demand for a legal change to permanently extend the time limit for accessing abortion care in France. It was a long political battle. We celebrated a great victory on 2 March 2022: abortion time limits were extended by two weeks. It was at this point that we saw a significant increase in support: French people who had previously been silent on the issue of abortion began to speak out.  Meanwhile, the anti-choice and anti-rights groups intensified its attacks against us. In the space of a few months, they broke down the doors, the windows and the locks of many of our local centers. Online and in-person threats were sent to our members across France.