The Another

    ‘I’ve always wanted to help women’



    Born in 1926, Professor Etienne-Emile Baulieu is a pioneer in hormonal research and the inventor of the RU 486 abortion pill, used by tens of millions of women worldwide and which several American states are trying to ban. A member of the Academy of Sciences in France and the United States and winner of numerous awards, the physician and scientist, always committed to the women’s cause, still goes to his Paris-area laboratory every day, always with a thirst for discovery.

    I wouldn’t have got here if…

    If I was not the son of a remarkable doctor, Léon Blum, a Jew from Alsace born under the German occupation well before the first world war, and of an independent and feminist woman, Thérèse Lion, a lawyer and a wonderful pianist who spoke perfect English and had spent time with the suffragettes in London, before devoting herself to the education of her children. To tell the truth, I did not know my father very well, since he died in 1930, when I was 3 years old.

    So I was raised in an exclusively female environment (mother, grandmother, sisters) in which I felt very comfortable because I love women deeply. I’ve always wanted to support and help them. But the reputation of my father, a man of science and a humanist, also drove me. I wanted to be worthy of this family. We venerated work, science and our country. We despised the desire for personal enrichment and honors. I would say that I was brought up well.

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    Your father was a doctor and you chose medicine. This cannot be a coincidence.

    Yet I had this impression because after the war, I was a good student but undecided about my future. I went to medical school simply following a friend who had made this choice. But what do we know about our unconscious driving forces? My mother did not want me to become a doctor. As if it were a deadly profession! She had only been married to my father for four years and attributed his sudden death to his profession.

    He was a prominent kidney specialist, one of the very first to use insulin to treat diabetes. He was a brave man. Mobilized into the German army in 1914, he invented an incredible scheme to provide information to the Allies: Under the pretext of monitoring their condition, he asked the German officers he treated to send him a sample of their urine every week! Thanks to the postal stamps, he was then able to piece together the movements of their regiments and transmit them to the French and British services.

    Was he ever caught?

    Yes, in 1916. And he had to cross the German line at Verdun to join the French. Marshal Pétain then decorated him with the Legion of Honor. Afterward, he became a famous professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Strasbourg.

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