France makes it official: fines and prison sentences for pro-lifers who practice free speech online

By Dave Andrusko

Laurence Rossignol

Laurence Rossignol

It had all the signs of a done-deal last December–and it got done today.

By a show of hands, French lawmakers passed a law this morning (in the loaded description of Politico.eu ] “sanctioning websites that aim to dissuade women from terminating a pregnancy by using ‘misleading claims’ on abortion.”

A fine of up to two years in prison and a fine up $37,000 were already on the books. The new law extends the target to online websites.

By “misleading” they mean websites which “emphasize the negative psychological and physical impacts that abortions can have on women.” Of course for standing up for free speech, opponents are labeled “right-wing politicians and Catholic organizations.”

During the debate in December it became clear that offering alternatives to abortion will not only not be tolerated, it will be criminalized. “Freedom of expression should not be confused with manipulating minds,” said Laurence Rossignol, the socialist family minister in a statement straight out of George Orwell’s “1984.”

Reporting today for Politic.eu. Natalie Huet explained

Health Minister Marisol Touraine has argued the bill was made necessary by recent attacks against the right to abortion, and a “cultural backdrop that tends to make women feel guilty when they consider terminating a pregnancy.”

It gets worse.

Huet interviewed Alain Bensoussan, whom she described as “a lawyer specializing in digital law.” So to what does Monsieur Bensoussan liken websites that provide pro-life alternatives?

Bensoussan drew a parallel with legislation sanctioning websites showing child pornography or encouraging jihadist militancy.

This is the same nation, by the way, that banned an affirming portrait of children with Down syndrome. As Michael Cook explained, on November 10, 2016 , the highest court in France for administrative procedures, the Conseil d’État (Council of State).

reaffirmed a 2014 decision by a broadcasting tribunal to ban a TV advertisement depicting Down syndrome children as loving, quirky, independent kids whose parents adore them.

“The law stipulates that only advertising messages or ‘messages of general interest’ be shown during commercial breaks. The Council determined that this film does not constitute a ‘message of general interest’,” Conseil d’État declared. Rather, it is “likely to disturb women who have had recourse to a medical termination of pregnancy and thus is inappropriate for airing during commercial breaks.”

Mr. Cook concluded

With this judgement, the French legal system has endorsed abortion and eugenics and has undercut the rights of disabled citizens. If Down syndrome children are denied an opportunity to say that they are just as happy – or happier – than the rest of us, then the glorious slogan of liberté, égalité, fraternité is just meaningless bombast.

Even more sinister, though, are the implications for the future of public debate. Ultimately the best argument for traditional moral teachings is that they lead to human flourishing, that they make us happy. When being happy becomes a hate crime …

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