AFP reports (via the French-language Le Point) that on Feb. 16, 2017, by a show of hands, France’s left-leaning National Assembly (the lower house of France’s Parliament) passed a law against pro-life, anti-abortion websites, on the grounds that such websites “spread misleading information” about abortion, a crime punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment and a $30,000 fine.
The new law is an expansion of the existing crime of “hindrance to abortion” to include pro-life websites. The original crime of “hindrance to abortion” was established in 1993 against pro-life activists who “disrupt” abortion clinics by organizing demonstrations near the clinics, speaking to women entering the clinics, or “threatening” the abortion personnel. The new law adds the word “digital” to the original crime of “hindrance to abortion”.
On the basis of the 1993 “hindrance to abortion” law, Dr. Xavier Dor, a well-known elderly and almost blind pro-lifer, was fined heavily for having given knitted baby boots to a woman he spoke to in the public stairway of the building where Planned Parenthood has its Paris offices.
Minister of Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol said that the new law targets pro-life websites that “mimic” or look similar to pro-abort institutional websites or seemingly-official hotlines. Rossignol said “Anti-abortion activists remain free to express their opposition to abortion provided they honestly say who they are, what they do and what they want.”
Writing for LifeSiteNews, Jeanne Smits points out that since the new law’s “wording is not restrictive . . . any person or group aiming to call public attention to the dangers and risks of abortion will be potentially at risk of prosecution.”
The upper house repeatedly tried to impose less severe wording without trying to scrap the law entirely. In the absence of an agreement between the two governing bodies, the National Assembly has the last word and so it achieved its aim of virtually outlawing pro-life speech.
The law was adopted by a show of hands – an indication that few lawmakers were present in the Chamber – during which all left-wing representatives present as well as a majority of the centrists voted for the measure. It is the latest in a series of pro-abortion laws that have made “voluntary interruption of pregnancy,” as the French euphemism [for abortion] goes, a purely elective and 100 percent publicly-funded “fundamental right” since socialist François Hollande came into power five years ago.
The criminalization of negative information on abortion is the result of a process that began when members of Hollande’s socialist government realized that Google searches were linking women to pro-life groups. These sites explain the risks and realities of the procedure and where to find assistance to help women keep their baby.
The Republican (center right) party voted against the law, saying that it is a deliberate infringement of freedom of expression. The Republican party intends to submit the text to the Constitutional Council in the hope of having it declared contrary to the French Constitution.