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Abortion Before The Veil Act [France]

INED has made a huge mistake by reporting abortion as responsible for the total number of obstetrical deaths.

This study analyses statistical data on abortion available prior to the issuance of the act that legalized it in France. The sources are well known by those who took the issue into consideration. And they are discussed in summarized articles.


On November 5, 1965, the Minister of Public Health and Population, Raymond Marcellin, worried about the English propaganda on birth control, ordered the INED (National Institute of Demographic Studies) to prepare a report on birth regulations in France.

The ""Report on birth regulations in France" was published in the magazine "Population" (July-August 1966, n°4, p.645 onwards). Its "findings on the annual number of abortions in France" is worth mentioning: "The number of yearly abortions in France is significantly below 1,500,000 or the 2,500,000 usually reported.. It is even quite below the number of childbirths, contrary to what it is usually believed. The number of induced abortions does not seem to exceed the 250,000. Miscarriages amount to approximately 150,000; they usually seem inevitable…"

The bar was set, INED had a good reputation; impressed, the members of parliament voted in 1967 the Neuwirth Act legalizing contraception. Then, at the end of 1974, the Veil Act legalized abortion.

However, those famous 250,000 are the result of an improbable calculation.

A second report was written in July 1976. It was prepared by father René BEL, entitled "Un Rapport Mal Fait! Recherches critiques sur le rapport de l'INED..." ("A Badly Done Report! Critical research on INED’s report…"). Here is a summary of the main objections:

1) All the report’s calculations are based on figures taken from death statistics of the INSEE, only during 1963. This calculation method has no value because it should have taken into account the numbers of several years (the second report includes figures of 16 years.)

2) INED’s report calculates the number of abortions exclusively based on "obstetrical deaths" during 1963, as if all these deaths (332) were a consequence of abortion; it applies a rate of 1 death per 1,000 abortions (of what type? INED’s subsequent answers were inconsistent1.), and thus obtains a first estimate of 332,000 abortions.

Causes of obstetrical deaths (1963)
Pregnancy toxemia 37
Pregnancy hemorrhage 6
Ectopic pregnancy 12
Other pregnancy diseases and accidents 33
Abortion not specified as septic 39
Abortion with infection 17
Childbirth and puerperium bleeding 37
Other childbirth accidents 104
Postpartum phlebitis and embolism 17
Other puerperium infections 7
Postpartum eclampsia 5
Other complications after childbirth or not specified 18

Yet of the 332 obstetrical deaths, only 56 were related to abortions (miscarriages and induced).

3) To that 332,000, the INED suggests to add figures from another estimation based on deaths due to obstetrical causes which were disguised as "badly defined or unknown causes." In fact, the INED thinks to have found in abortion a cause to explain the rate surplus in female death due to unknown causes as opposed to that of male death due to unknown causes between the age ranges of 15 to 49, in 1963.

Deaths in 1963, age 15 to 49 years old Women Men
Unknown or badly defined cause 1269 2350
A mixture of all causes 14384 28075
Resulting death rate due to unknown causes 8.82% 8.37%

The INED calculates this surplus for 1963 as follows:

(0.0882 – 0.0837) x 28,075 = 126.34 rounded up to 126 deaths, using the rate of 1/1000 equals 126,000 abortions. Therefore:

a) this "surplus" is sometimes negative (e.g. in 1959, 1960, 1968),

b) the difference between the female and male death rate due to unknown causes in the paragraph is very weak, in proportion (0.45%) to have statistical significance; all the more because the division per age range does not correspond to the assumption of clandestine abortion2 set forth in the report,

c) and finally, (the icing on the cake), the INED applies this rate of 0.45% to the group of male deaths (28,075) instead of the group of female deaths (14,384). The result is 61 more deaths, therefore 61,000 abortions in excess3.

4) And, the equation above was wrong, even with the figures regarding female deaths. Indeed, the INED should have estimated the ratio "badly defined or unknown deaths" against "deaths by disease" and not against the total number of deaths: in fact "accidents and violent deaths" have nothing to do with abortion.

Deaths in 1963, age 15 to 49 years old Women Men
Unknown or badly defined cause 1269 2350
Accidents and violent deaths (AVD) 2539 10515
A mixture of all causes 14384 28075
Disease (all causes AVD) 11845 17560
Death rate due to unknown causes on total cases 10.71% 13.38%

If the correction is done this way, the rate surplus becomes negative and the assumption (camouflaged abortions expressed under "badly defined or unknown causes") becomes absurd4.

5) The numbers found in the report of the INED mix a group of induced abortions and spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) in a very confusing way; therefore the number of abortions in each category is very unlikely as well as the related death rates (the definition of this rate is uncertain). The INED makes the following calculation:

(332,000 + 126,000 – 150,000 miscarriages) = 308,000 reduced to 250,000 (probably because the INED considered its own assumptions as maximum.)

Father Bel’s report is reliable, it was validated by several experts: demographers, mathematicians, statisticians, doctors and legal experts, both French and foreigners. The press did not publish it. Politicians did not listen to it.


The probable number of yearly abortions in France before the Veil Act falls between 55,000 and 90,000.

The March-April 1974 (#2) issue of "Population" magazine published a study of Henri Léridon: "Étude de la clientèle et du champ d'attraction d'un service hospitalier" ("Study of clients and area of attraction of a hospital system." ) Professor Gautray from the obstetrics and gynecology department of C.H.I. of Créteil wanted a report on the "sociodemographic characteristics of the clients of his service." The study was based on a group of 1,498 files of maternity visits, from June 1970 to December 1971.

The purpose of this study was not to calculate the number of clandestine abortions; however, it included a table on the «result of recorded pregnancies.» The results show 8.3% of induced abortions per 79.2% of live births (mothers born in France), which means a rate of 8.3/79.2=10.5 induced abortions per 100 live births.

If we project that figure to the whole of France (high hypothesis since the region of Paris registers the highest number of abortions), we can infer an estimation of 89,250 induced abortions. [Léridon's article does not risk to make this rule of three which could call again into question the report of 1966; scientific modesty?]

In the "Cahier n°117" of the publication "Travaux et documents", entitled "La Seconde Révolution Contraceptive, la régulation des naissances en France de 1950 à 1985" by Henri Léridon (et al.), for the INED, published by P.U.F. in 1987, Henri Léridon comes back on those figures of the C.H.I study of Créteil: "Even if we admit that part of the induced abortions could have been declared as "spontaneous," we can not go beyond 15 induced abortions per 100 live births, based on those answers."

[Here, Léridon does not use the rule of three: 0.15 x 850,000=127,500 abortions per year in France, a bit less since the region of Paris registers the highest number of abortions.]

He also shows the result of a survey which compares the answers before 1975 with those of 1975-1977:

For 100 live births Before 1975 During 1975-77
- induced abortions 2.0 9.2
- miscarriages (or not defined) and stillbirths. 15.9 12.9

Assuming that the answers of 1975-77 are more honest, and noticing that the rate of induced abortions is abnormally high before 1975; he looks for the results of another survey carried out before 1975, on women between 22 to 44 years old. These results show that:

He then calculates an estimation of the number of induced abortions disguised as spontaneous, as follows:

(0.43 – 0.14) x 15.9 = 4.611 which he rounded up to 4.5.

For the period between 1975 and 1977 a rate of 22.5% was applied (based on surveys carried out after the "Veil" Act.) He gets then the following table:

For 100 live births Before 1975 During 1975-77
- induced abortions 2.0 9.2
- induced abortions, non declared 4.5 2.9
TOTAL of induced abortions 6.5 12.1

One more time, Léridon tries not to use the rule of three. He would have found 55,250 yearly abortions in France during 1970.


The INED insists in its error

In 1979 the Veil Act was to be confirmed, after a trial period of 5 years. Therefore, a serious balance of the abortion act effects was needed. That balance was published at the end of June 1979 by a working group gathered around one of the most renowned independent demographers in France, Jean Legrand, under the name of "Guillaume Paulmier." That report established:

This report was so unsettling that Calot himself monopolized a complete issue of "Population et sociétés" (Dec.1979, n°130) to answer it.

His refutation was divided in two points:

Births Births Fall
APRIL 74 69,910 APRIL 75 68,355 2.2% BEFORE the act
entered into force:
slow fall
MAY 74 73,930 MAY 75 71,894 2.7%
JUNE 74 66,978 JUNE 75 65,199 2.7%
JULY 74 70,276 JULY 75 66,848 4.9% Transition
AUGUST 74 67,548 AUGUST 75 60,598 10.3% AFTER the act
entered into force:
rupture of
LEVEL around 10%
SEPTEMBER 74 65,449 SEPTEMBER 75 56,642 13.5%
OCTOBER 74 65,166 OCTOBER 75 56,394 13.5%
NOVEMBER 74 60,565 NOVEMBER 75 54,512 10.0%
APRIL 75 68,355 APRIL 76 61,643 9.8%
MAY 75 71,894 MAY 76 65,457 9.0%

Fast fall of the birth rate during the 3rd quarter of 1975 - Specific effect of the act of 01/17/1975.

Jean Legrand answered on December 20, 1979 and demonstrated the lack of relevance of this "refutation." In fact, there can be a correlation between abortions and births, since an aborted child is not born and the other way round. The correlation table made by Calot is based on statistical numbers where the underreporting varies immensely according to the geographical origin: it was necessary then, as the "Paulmier" report did, to sort and select those which made any sense.

Even the model of correction of seasonal variations chosen by Calot is based on the events after 1975: therefore, after the abortion act, the structure of seasonal variations completely changed5. Calot’s chart has no meaning. Moreover, the monthly comparison between 1974 and 1975 is valid since the period of reference (April-November 1974) was characterized by a quasi stability of the birth rate.

Moreover, the objective of the birth curve in the annual moving average was not to demonstrate the chronology, but to show the increased deficit of births since 1975 (recorded in more than 100,000 infants per year.)


Gérard Calot, director of the INED, granted an interview to Le Monde newspaper, which was published on November 27, 1979. Calot had read the "Paulmier" report, and the extension vote, or not, of the abortion act by the National Assembly was very near.

The main subject of the article was the "refutation" of the "Paulmier" report, with the scoop of two charts that were going to be included in the December issue of "Population et sociétés" of 1979.

The interesting thing, on the contrary, is that he acknowledges that his calculation of the number of clandestine abortions during 1963, used in the INED's report of 1966, was based on the total of obstetrical deaths (332).

In December 1988, in Florence, during a symposium on European population and society changes, Gérard Calot, INED, issued a communication entitled: "La fécondité en Europe: évolutions passées et perspectives d'avenir" ("Fertility in Europe: passed evolutions and future perspectives.")

He describes the phenomenon of "modern contraception": "In our opinion, the almost absolute control of fertility, thanks to oral contraceptives, IUD, sterilization and legal abortions, has played a definite role. (...) However, the effect of modern contraception has exceeded the simple substitution [of the old contraception.] (...) Modern contraception seems to be the cause of the quasi disappearance of non-desired fertility and especially of families with three or more children. (...)

All that social context in which projects are formed and decisions are taken by couples on procreation has been evolving for the last forty years in a direction that, in general, is unfavorable for fertility; but it must be said that this evolution is in nature slow and progressive and it would not, in itself, explain the brutal changes registered between 1965 and 1975. (...) That is why, even if we had our doubts then, we think today that modern contraception has contributed the most to modify the fertility regime of European populations."

[For Calot, "modern contraception" included abortion.]


Officially: contraception leads to abortion.

After the myth of the Act’s inefficacy to reduce the number of abortions, another myth was officially questioned in 1994. Henri Léridon, Research Director of the INED was interviewed by the Express (02/17/1994):

"- How do you explain that there are still 170,0006 abortions each year in France, despite the normalization of contraception?

- Those figures are quite frustrating, because they have not evolved since the application of the abortion act, in 1975. (...) However, contraception has reached the maximum level, if I can say so: 90% of women use at some point in their lives the pill. (...) But, from the beginning, the paradox was that a lot of these users were candidates for abortion. (...)

- Was having only desired and planned kids an illusion?

- Not at all! Our surveys say so: the number of non desired births by women has drastically decreased over the years. Failure is less and less accepted. We reject that on which we have no control, or we have not programmed. Thus the continued resort to induced abortion. (...) A child too many is not acceptable. In the past, we had less irreversible ideas on the size of the ideal family. Today, we don’t accept any variations regarding the fixed objective. Not in quantity or in date. The baby cannot come before time, too late or on the wrong time. Here the frustrating paradox: the more constricted is the contraceptive practice, the more the resort to induced abortion becomes a needed solution."

The contraception myth as prevention of abortion finally starts to collapse.

In 2004 the INED continues to observe that «despite the mass diffusion of medical contraception (pill and IUD), the resort to induced abortion has remained surprisingly stable since 1975, (...) approximately 200,000 induced abortions per year.» But the INED still flounders trying to explain this phenomenon: «the method used is not always adapted to women’s social, emotional and sexual conditions of life.»

Apparently, the INED is having trouble believing in its own figures: more contraception, more abortions! And hormonal "contraception" or by IUD have direct abortive effects that are not taken into account in the figures of the INED.


"The number of abortions in 1990 was almost 170,000, when it had gone down to almost 162,000 a bit earlier. So we recover the level of years 1983 – 1984, the recent decrease seemed to be questioned. Nevertheless, one must be very cautious regarding that evolution. First of all because this information is provisional and no detailed analysis has yet been possible (...); secondly, because the reduction in the number of induced abortions in the 1980s was already interrupted by several oscillations difficult to analyze, and thirdly, abortion statistics are always flawed and based on lacunae statements made by certain clinical facilities. Several surveys carried out on this matter let us easily calculate that 40,000 is the number of induced abortions, not registered, but the real number could be double that." ("21st report on the demographic situation of France," in Population, n°5 sept.oct.1992)

Here the INED acknowledges that the number of abortions in 1990 falls somewhere between 210,000 and 250,000.

In 2004, the abortion statistical follow-up system was modified to integrate other sources of information, because the under-recording was calculated at 4.4% for the public sector and at 33.2% for the private sector (cf. DREES, Études et résultats, n°348, October 2004), which makes a 14% average. This rectification of statistics is way below of what the INED had said in 1992.

All these elements show that the abortions, which already were too many before 1973 (55 to 90,000 per year), multiplied themselves to reach 205,627 per year (official figure for 2002) under the effect of this law.

And, if in 1975 the percentage of non expected pregnancies that ended up in an abortion was 41%, in 2002 this number increased to 62%. This is a massive backlash to the right to live of unborn French citizens.



1. "The report of the demographic situation of France in 1972", in Population, n°6 (Nov. Dec. 1973), p.1047: where 1/1000 refers to induced abortions,
but Population et Sociétés, n°69 (May 1974): G. Calot (INED) considers that 1/1000 is an average rate of maternal death due to miscarriage and induced abortion.

2. Negative surplus percentage for the oldest women.

3. In May 1974, M. Gérard Calot, Director of the INED discreetly corrected this mistake in "Population et Sociétés" (n°69). However, he did not correct the report of 1966. In fact, two press articles (Le Parisien Libéré, 03/14/1974, and La Croix, 03/26/1974) had already mentioned the mistake.

4. The calculation resulted in 316 female deaths in 1963!

5. As from mid 1976, we observed a new seasonal division of births, which translates into a higher concentration during May-June-July and, no doubt, it represents the transition to a more focused fertility system and the reduction of unwanted births.

6. Remeasured in 1990. Abortion promoters referred to that figure "forgetting" to mention underreporting (cf. subsequent information).