The optional question was based on an article published last December in Le Monde marking 30 years of legalised abortion.
The article emphasised that the law had intended a change from "pregnancy under duress" to "chosen pregnancy", and showed its introduction had not affected population growth.
Candidates taking the literary bac - who sit their biology paper when they are between 15 and 18 - were asked to "present the arguments in favour of authorising voluntary termination of pregnancy in France" and to "discuss the idea that abortion is not considered as a means of contraception".
Pro-life and Catholic organisations including the Paris Catholic teachers'
association and, more discreetly, the parents' association Unapel, objected to the question.
They claimed it forced candidates to take a pro-choice stance on abortion, acting as "wretched advocates for an anti-natural cause", and denied them the right to express their own views.
But the education ministry said the protesters had misread the wording; pupils were not required to take a pro- or anti-abortion stance, only to present a case from the text provided.
Gilles de Robien said in a television interview last week that the exam had been about testing scientific knowledge and, "contrary to what has been said, (was) not a philosophy exam which required an opinion on voluntary termination of pregnancy, or whether one was for or against it".