Lawmakers in France have voted to ban supposedly “misleading” pro-life web sites.
After a heated debate, the French National Assembly has passed a bill to outlaw websites spreading misinformation about abortion.
Pro-Life campaigners have been accused of pretending to give neutral information while putting pressure on women not to terminate pregnancies.
The new law, which still has to pass the Senate, extends existing protection against physical intimidation over abortion to digital media.
The planned bill would extend the scope of a 1993 law, which criminalises “false information” over abortions, to digital media.
The original intent of the law was to prevent pro-life activists from physically blocking access to abortion clinics. The new bill will extend such “interference” in abortions to pro-lifers falsifying information in cyberspace, in order to impede terminations.
Bruno Retailleau, who heads the Republicans party group in the Senate, says the bill “is totally against freedom of expression.” Speaking on radio, he claimed the bill went against the “spirit” of the 1975 law legalizing abortion, which called for women to be informed of alternatives.
Wat’s really going on?
Pro-life attorney Gregor Puppinck, who is based in Europe, explains: “Freedom of expression on abortion is currently being challenged in France. The French administration makes it every day more difficult for pro-life associations to express their ideas and to promote pro-life choices.”
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“This bill, which contains only one article intends to extend the notion of “impediments” to abortion and creates a new crime of “digital interference” to abortion. The mere display on a website of, for instance, information about the risks of having an abortion, or an attempt to convince women that there are other solutions than abortion would be considered, with the new law, as a criminal offense punishable by up to 2 years of imprisonment and €30,000 fine,” he said.
“The widespread recourse to abortion is a social issue and public health problem which society must solve with a prevention policy, not with censorship,’ he added.