France’s socialist government is attempting to crack down on pro-life activists by criminalizing online advocacy at odds with the nation’s abortion regime.
On Thursday, the French National Assembly passed a bill that makes it a crime to post information online that challenges abortion. Pro-life activists who continue to operate online face up to two years in prison and a fine of more than $30,000. The bill is an expansion of a 1993 law that penalized giving out “false information” or physically blocking those seeking abortion from entering clinics. The bill passed by French lawmakers will punish web operators who post material considered “deliberately misleading, intimidating and/or exerting psychological or moral pressure.”
The French legislation follows a controversy that erupted after the French government blocked an advertisement featuring smiling children with Down syndrome because it could dredge up feelings of guilt from woman who decided to abort babies diagnosed with the genetic condition in-utero. About 96 percent of all babies diagnosed with the condition are aborted in France. The two-minute ad featured testimony from Down syndrome children and adults, as well as their parents explaining that they were capable of living full and happy lives. In November a French court upheld the ban, saying the video would “‘disturb the conscience of women who, in accordance with the law, have made personal life choices.’”