Rue Dr Marie-Paule Molitor-Peffer

Rue Dr Marie-Paule Molitor-Peffer

Co-founder of the Planning Familial
Birth year
Year of death
Places of residence
Luxembourg City

Who is she?

Marie-Paule Peffer, the only daughter of Joseph Peffer and Anne Bofferding, was born on 7 October 1929 in Luxembourg City. Her father, a very committed doctor - a street in Howald is named after him - firmly supported his daughter in her decision to study medicine. This professional choice was not yet usual for girls at the time and was completely contrary to the young woman's initial plans to become a nun! Love changed everything: Marie-Paule Peffer and Georges Molitor, who had known each other since childhood, fell in love.

The student passed her baccalaureate in Lausanne, followed by medical studies and specialisation in gynaecology in Switzerland. She finished her studies in Nancy to be geographically closer to G. Molitor, whom she married on 9 December 1961. From their marriage two daughters, Anne and Claire, were born in 1962 and 1963. The young mother liked to joke that it took two doctors to have two children in less than a year without them being twins.

Her commitment to modern sex education was evident from the start of her professional career. She is a grassroots campaigner for access to contraception and for the decriminalisation of abortion. The Girl Scout also discusses violence against women and sexual abuse of children. The gynaecologist addresses issues that are taboo in Luxembourg society in the 1960s and 1970s. Marie-Paule Molitor-Peffer used her favourite pastime - reading and writing - to write numerous statements and letters to the editor, but also publications in scientific journals, not forgetting her radio column, where her crude way of speaking was opposed to the established customs of the time. Her daughter Anne often sees her sitting in her office behind her typewriter. Among her mother's strongest traits, Anne Molitor cites her ability to listen to others and to take their problems seriously, without losing her sense of humour. She loved to laugh and her laughter was truly contagious.

Marie-Paule Molitor-Peffer was a fierce fighter and her commitment and revolutionary ideas provoked strong reactions from conservative forces and even from the medical association, which ended up campaigning against her plans to create family planning centres. The gynaecologist was the victim of disciplinary proceedings. Her lawyer, Robert Krieps, even had to plead the case before the European Court of Human Rights. Victorious, Marie-Paule helped create the Family Planning in 1965, of which she herself was president from 1981 to 1992. At the instigation of the Family Minister of the CSV, Madeleine Frieden, the "Family Planning" was subsidised by the State from 1972. In addition to the headquarters in the capital, other centres were created in the 1970s, in Esch-sur-Alzette and Ettelbruck. In the legislation on abortion, reformed in 1978, the "Family Planning" centres were given a legal basis.

Several prizes were awarded to her, highlighting her merits. For example, the "Woman of the Year" prize that the president of the Cercle d'études libérales, Marcel Mart, awarded her on 19 May 1983. This title caused a stir in the Luxembourg press! The traditionalists were offended, but many journalists wrote glowing articles. Other distinctions are the honorary mention of the Korczak prize of the Kannerschlass foundation, in 1997, and the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (promotion 1997).

On 9 September 1999, Marie-Paule and Georges Molitor-Peffer lost their lives in a tragic road accident.

● Anne Molitor, daughter of Marie-Paule Molitor-Peffer.
● Sonja Kmec, Renée Wagener (et al.), Frauenleben–Frauenlegenden. […] Luxembourg 2007, p. 27-28.
● Histoire d’amour… 40 ans Planning Familial 1965-2005. Luxembourg, 2005.

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