In honor of the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, the French government has proposed legislation that would prohibit and punish websites that aim to dissuade women from getting an abortion.
If this becomes a law, sites with material opposing abortion or a “voluntary interruption of pregnancy” could get fines of up to €30,000 ($33,000) and the individual responsible could face up to two years in prison.
The legislation is in response to a recent report that found a major increase in pro-life websites “which significantly hinder access to reliable information and quality,” according to the government.
The country’s Minister for Families, Children and Women, Laurence Rossignol announced that the law entitled “Equality and Citizenship” would be presented to the French Senate on October 4th.
The proposed law states that “numerical obstruction” is an offense and that it’s a form of “manipulation” using “biased information” to convince women to not have an abortion.
The French government has taken the pro-abortion stance for many years. Abortions are state-funded procedures that are covered 100% within the first 12 weeks of gestation. Starting in 1993, pro-life activists who used “moral and psychological maneuvers” were sometimes given fines and even prison sentences.
Last year, the retired pediatrician and well-known pro-life activist Xavier Dor was heavily condemned for showing a pregnant patient knitted baby boots at a Planned Parenthood center in Paris.
But, now the government is broadening its scope to the world-wide web.
Prior to the introduction of the legislation, the government was battling pro-life sites with counter sites. For example, in response to webpages like www.ivg.net, which details some of the negative side effects of abortions, like the psychological risks and the trauma of abortion, the government created a website with addresses and information for women looking to get this life-altering procedure. This government site attempts to disparage the pro-life sites by saying “post-abortive trauma” does not exist.
Although she has introduced criminal charges to ban online sites discouraging abortion, Rossignol said that the pro-life sites aren’t in danger of being “censored.”
“Being against ‘IVG’ is an opinion that may be publicly expressed,” said Rossignol in an interview with rue89. She stated that these sites shouldn’t make a woman feel “guilty” about her choice and the law stop sites from doing so. “Abortion is a right in France and it is recognized as such by the law. Women should be able to choose with complete freedom.”
However, it won’t be easy to actually prove that one of these pro-life sites persuaded a woman to keep her baby.
And although, the government claims this isn’t censorship the definition of this term is “the suppression of free speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.” Isn’t this exactly what the government is doing?
“Being hostile to abortion is an opinion protected by the civil liberties in France,” said Rossignol. “But creating websites that have all official appearances to actually give biased information designed to deter, guilt, traumatize is not acceptable.”
And what about religious freedom? Abortion is seen by many religious individuals as the intentional of killing an innocent human being.
Not to mention, these sites often present real facts. These are just not the details that the pro-abortion government wants to see.