Simone Veil, was an early promoter of, and key contributor to, the construction of Europe as an instrument of peace.A woman of strong convictions, she served as minister in several French governments initiating major advances for the rights of women, for which we are indebted.
Veil, a lawyer by education, served as minister of health under the center-right government of Valery Giscard d’Estaing and later as president of the European Parliament, as well as a member of the Constitutional Council of France. In 1975, she led the legislation that legalized abortions in France.
Former French President Francois Hollande presented Veil with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour at the Elysee Palace in 2012. Fewer than 70 people have received the Grand Cross since Napoleon Bonaparte established it in 1802.
Veil, who was born in Nice, was imprisoned at Auschwitz but managed to escape the Nazi death camp. She published a best-selling autobiography in 2007 titled “A Life.” The following year, she was admitted to the Academie Francaise — a highly prestigious institution comprising individuals, often philosophers and writers, recognized for scholarly excellence.
Simone Veil had a vision for France and Europe based on freedom and a full commitment to human rights. She grew to become a universal figure and model for millions of men and women around the world. Her immense legacy will not be forgotten. Simone Veil, former minister, politician and French academician, died on 30 June 2017, at the age of 89.