Outcry as anti-abortion stickers hit Paris city bikes

Rent-a-bike users in the French capital found large anti-abortion stickers plastered on their bicycles on Thursday, sparking an outcry from the government.

Outcry as anti-abortion stickers hit Paris city bikes
Velib city bikes in front of the Republique square in Paris. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

“What if you had let it live?” read the adhesive labels designed specifically to fit Paris bike mudguards.

The glued posters featured a drawing of a human foetus growing in a womb, then a crawling baby and finally a child waving on a bicycle.

A group called “The Survivors”, which described itself as “youth revolted by the suffering… provoked by abortions”, said it had planned the action.

City authorities said a “significant number” of bikes for hire under city rental scheme Velib had been targeted in the unsanctioned anti-abortion campaign.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is the law on abortion in France?

“Disgusting and unacceptable,” Transport Minister Clement Beaune wrote on Twitter.

Minister for Gender Equality Isabelle Rome was also appalled.

“Abortion is a fundamental right for women. We will not let anyone violate it,” she said.

Health Minister Francois Braun described the sticker campaign as “shameful”.

“The government… will always be on the side of women to guarantee their right to choose,” he said.

Abortions were de-criminalised in France in 1975.

Successive laws in France have sought to make abortions safe, anonymous and free of charge.

But pro-choice associations say women wanting to abort still often face prejudice and hostility.

After the US Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion last year, President Emmanuel Macron in March said his government would put forward a draft law to enshrine abortion rights in the French constitution.

But it has not yet presented such a bill.

France recorded 220,000 abortions nationwide in 2020, according to national statistics institute INSEE.

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Paris petanque paradise makes pitch to avoid eviction

A storied Paris petanque club on Tuesday argued in court against a city eviction order, hoping to stay put in a private garden coveted by its boutique hotel neighbour.

Paris petanque paradise makes pitch to avoid eviction

For 50 years, the leafy haven at the top of the Montmartre district has housed the Lepic-Abbesses Petanque Club (CLAP) and its 257 members, fans of France’s national bowling pastime.

The players oversee the upkeep of the 765 square metres of grounds, a rare remnant of the vegetation that once covered the butte, with the city giving tacit approval by hooking up water and electricity.

Even amid rapid gentrification and a surge of tourism the club maintained its Montmartre village vibe.

But last year, city officials warned the nonprofit club that it was squatting the site without any authorisation, and said it would consider rival projects for use of the public land.

The CLAP says its the victim of the luxury Hotel Particulier adjacent to the site, whose owner is a former club member who wants his own private garden.

The hotel recently was given a 12-year contract to operate the site, which the club vowed to fight in court.

“No work was ever done on the site” by the city, the club’s lawyer Sebastien Le Briero told the Paris administrative court, insisting that the club was the de-facto occupant ensuring a rare green space in the area.

Lawyers for the city countered that no contracts were ever signed, and that games lasting into the night, helped along with clubhouse beers, had prompted noise complaints.

More than 7,000 people have signed an online petition to save the CLAP, calling it an essential part of Montmartre, which is hoping to join UNESCO’s ranks of protected World Heritage Sites.

“We want to keep the site in its current state, while opening it up as much as possible to the neighbourhood,” Maxime Liogier, the club’s communications manager, told AFP during an open house to rally support last November.

The judge’s ruling is expected on September 25.