French lawmakers on Thursday will debate and vote on a government-backed draft law that could criminalize online pro-life advocacy. The legislation would extend the ambit of already-illegal “interference” in abortion to cover digital media.

Any website carrying material that is deemed to be “deliberately misleading, intimidating and/or exerting psychological or moral pressure” aimed at persuading a mother not to abort her child could face criminal charges, with punishments of two years in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros ($31,800).

A Catholic archbishop has called the move “a very serious attack on the principles of democracy.”

Supporters, including Minister for Families Laurence Rossignol, say the goal is to prevent the dissemination of inaccurate or biased information, but critics view the wording as vague and dangerous.

“One could hardly be vaguer in the description,” argues Gregor Puppinck, director of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) – an international affiliate of the Virginia Beach-based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) – which opposes the initiative.

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