Simone Veil Grand-croix DBE was a French magistrate and stateswoman who served as Health Minister in several governments and was President of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1982, the first woman to hold that office. As health minister, she is best remembered for advancing women’s legal rights in France, in particular for the 1975 law that legalized abortion, today known as Loi Veil. From 1998 to 2007, she was a member of the Constitutional Council, France’s highest legal authority.
A Holocaust survivor, of both Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, she was a firm believer in the European integration as a way of guaranteeing peace. She served as president of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, from 2000 to 2007, then subsequently as honorary president. Among many honours, she was made an honorary dame in 1998, was elected to the Académie Française in 2008, and received the grand cross of the Légion d’honneur in 2012.
One of France’s most revered figures, Simone Veil and her husband were buried at the Panthéon on 1 July 2018. Her eulogy was given by President Emmanuel Macron.