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Veil, Simone (1927–)

Veil, Simone (1927–)

French politician. Pronunciation: VAY, the L is sounded but truncated. Born Simone-Annie-Liline Jacob in Nice, France, July 13, 1927; dau. of André Jacob (1890–c. 1944, architect) and Yvonne Steinmetz Jacob (1900–1945); sister of Denise Jacob; m. Antoine Veil (b. 1926), 1946; children: Jean (b. 1947); Claude-Nicolas (b. 1949); François-Pierre (b. 1954).

Most important female politician in France in 20th century, the 1st woman minister of the Fifth Republic, who saw to passage of the laws on adoption and abortion (the loi Veil) and was the 1st president of the European Parliament after the office became elected by popular vote; at 16, during a roundup of Jews in Nice, was deported to Auschwitz (1944), then Bergen-Belsen (1945); received diploma from Institut d'ÉtudesPolitiquesand law license from the Faculty of Law (Sorbonne, 1948); qualified as a magistrate (1956); was attaché at Ministry of Justice with the Administration of Prisons (1957–64) and at the Ministry of Justice's Office of Civil Affairs (1964–68); saw passage of the Adoption Law (1966); served as secretary-general of Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature (1970–79); was minister of Health in Jacques Chirac's cabinet (1974–76); saw passage of the Abortion Law (1974–75); was minister of Health and Social Security in Raymond Barre's cabinet (1976–79); was a member of European Parliament (1979–93), and its president (1979–82); chaired Legal Affairs Committee of European Parliament (1982–84) and Liberal and Democratic and Reforming Group of European Parliament (1984–89); was minister of Health, Social Affairs, and Urban Affairs in Édouard Balladur's cabinet (1993–95); signed the Manifesto of Ten (1996); became a member of the Conseil Constitutionnel (1998); forged an extraordinary political career by being "an independent personality," as she put it; participated to some degree in party affairs through the Union for French Democracy (UDF) but was never comfortable there; won a unique place in French politics and public opinion as someone free of ordinary political ties.

See also (in French) Michel Sarazin, Une femme Simone Veil (Laffont, 1987) and Maurice Szafran, Simone Veil: Destin (Flammarion, 1994); and Women in World History.

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