On October 13th, French socialist deputies proposed a bill “to widen the offence of forming an obstacle to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy through the online dissemination of “false information” on abortion”.
Created by a 1993 law, the offence of ‘obstacle’ sanctions both preventing and attempting to prevent an abortion, by interfering with access to facilities where abortions take place, or by making threats to facility staff or the women presenting for abortions.
The unique article of the proposed legislation extends the offence to the diffusion or transmission “by any means, in particular by means of communication with the public by electronic methods or communication to the public online, of allegations, distorted indications, or presentations that are likely to mislead, with an aim to dissuade women of having abortions” or “to put psychological pressure” on the women informing themselves on abortion, or those attending with them.
Any political official should aim for a fall in abortions. Yet the French Government has actually gone in the direction of trying to increase the facilitation and promotion of abortion: full repayment in 2012, anonymity, quotas in hospitals, suppression of the concept of ‘distress’ in 2014, suppression of time for consideration in 2015. After having created “neutral” websites, having created a “neutral” free number, , the government is now trying to remain the master of information on abortion, whilst it sanctions those who try to save women from that experience.
Claire de La Hougue, Doctor of Laws and lawyer at the bar of Strasbourg, emphasises that the French Government disseminates a “partial information: neither the website, nor the booklet of information given to the women who plan to follow through with an abortion, say a word on the possibility of keeping the child, nor on the existing support for parents“.
Madeleine de Jessey, a French politician of the opposition Sens Commun, denounces this promotion of the ‘right’ of abortion as a violation of the fundamental right of each woman to choose life: “The Ayatollahs of the IVG, far from having liberated women, subject them to pressures and propaganda which gradually dispossess them of any real freedom of choice”.
Abortion is a serious subject which relates to everyone: women, family, doctors, those accompanying pregnant mothers, and the wider political sphere. The Jerome Lejeune Foundation maintains that “[this] is a collective and political challenge, which can thus be the object of debate”, and will justly contest the proposed legislation.