"Her uncompromising humanism, wrought by the horror of the camps, made her the constant ally of the weakest, and the resolute enemy of any political compromise with the extreme right." [Source]Veil grew up in Nice as one of four children. In 1944, just a few days after taking the baccalaureate exam, she -- along with her mother and a sister -- were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She never saw her father or brother again, and her mother died of typhus a few weeks before the April 15, 1945 liberation of the camp. After the war, Veil trained as a lawyer, rose in political stature, and as health minister in 1974 brought women's right to the forefront of debate in the National Assembly. Challenged to refute any moral equivalency between the Holocaust and abortion, Veil replied:
“I say this with total conviction: Abortion should stay an exception, the last resort for desperate situations. How, you may ask, can we tolerate it without its losing the character of an exception — without it seeming as though society encourages it? I will share a conviction of women, and I apologize for doing it in front of this assembly comprised almost exclusively of men: No woman resorts to abortion lightheartedly.”Veil will be curried in the Paris Pantheon, alongside Victor Hugo and Voltaire, a distinct honor. Earlier, she was also granted the distinction of membership in the Academie Française, which included the customary ceremonial sword. It bore three engravings:
- Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (the French Republic's motto)
- the European Union’s Unie dans la diversité,
- and 78651, the number tattooed on her left forearm.