The Corner

National Security & Defense

French Senate Bans Posting of Pro-Life Information Online

The French Senate today adopted a bill criminalizing the posting of pro-life information online, a measure that was passed by the French National Assembly just last week. Violators face a maximum of two years in prison and over $30,000 in fines. The measure makes it a crime for pro-life individuals or activists to obstruct a woman’s lawful decision to have an abortion, or to cause her guilt after the fact. Its text criminalizes:

the act of preventing or trying to prevent to practice or learn about an abortion or prior acts . . . by any means, including by disseminating or transmitting electronically or online, allegations, statements looking to intentionally mislead, as a deterrent, the characteristics or the medical consequences of a voluntary interruption pregnancy.

Furthermore, the bill defines obstruction not only as the physical effort to block an abortion clinic, for example, but also “psychological obstacles,” which it defines as:

moral and psychological pressure, threats or intimidation against medical and non-medical working in these institutions, [or against] women who undergo or seek information about a voluntary termination of pregnancy or any acquaintance of the latter.

The translation of these portions of the bill is somewhat rough, but many analysts agree that the bill will be interpreted to criminalize any person or website that posts information regarding alternatives to abortion, or even that espouses the Christian belief that the church considers abortion to be immoral.

During the debate over the bill, Senator Francoise Laborde, a member of the Radical Party of the Left, called pro-life websites “horrors and lies” and announced his intention to prevent them from operating at all. When members of the governing body objected to the bill’s strong wording, the text was altered to punish “misinformation,” giving the appearance that pro-life activism might still be permissible as long as it wasn’t inaccurate.

However, Gregor Puppinck, director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, said this slight change in language won’t actually improve the plight of pro-life activists because the law still bans moral and psychological pressure, which can be used to justify any number of accusations from those on the pro-abortion side. This law might even interfere with clergy members’ ability to articulate church teaching if their faith is morally opposed to abortion.

This news comes in the wake of another recent controversy, in which the French State Council banned an ad depicting children with Down syndrome talking about their happy lives, meant to appeal to mothers of children with the same condition. The council ruled that the video could not air on French television because the children’s smiles would “disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices” — in other words, because seeing them happy would upset women who had aborted their own Down syndrome children.

EDIT: This post has been updated with a more precise translation of the relevant portions of the law.

Most Popular

Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More
Politics & Policy

On Painting Air Force One

And so it has come to this. Two oil tankers were just attacked in the Gulf of Oman, presumably by Iran. The United States and China are facing off in a confrontation that is about far more than trade. The southern border remains anarchic and uncontrolled. And Congress is asking: “Can I get the icon in ... Read More