The French Parliament, with a final vote in the National Assembly, has definitively approved the draft law submitted by a number of members of the Socialist majority, that intends to penalize web sites, defined as of “disinformation”, on abortion.
The text provides for the extension of the criminal offense of “attempt of hindrance to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy” also to internet sites that give in reality news on the consequences of abortion. The offense of hindrance to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy was created in 1993 and is sanctioned with a penalty that can reach up to 2 years of prison and 30,000 euro fine.
The reaction of Catholic Associations
The decision of the Parliament has caused controversy by a party of the right and by numerous Catholic associations. Already in the past, the bill had raised the complaint of the French Episcopal Conference, which did not fail to emphasize the crucial contribution of these sites in offering an alternative of life to abortion. In particular, the Archbishop of Marseilles, Mons. Georges Pontier, speaking on behalf of the Catholics of France, sent a letter directly to President Francois Hollande, in which he stressed the value of all those associations that also online, try to compensate for the lack of adequate public counselling centres.
Pro-life sites considered as an obstacle to the freedom of choice
Practically the law considers an obstacle to the free individual choice also all pro-life web portals, that from today onwards may be guilty of the so-called “delit d’entrave” provided for by the French legislature for over 20 years (1993), which provides, in the case of infringement, penalties of up to 30 thousand euros and imprisonment from 1 to 2 years. A brake, according to the promoters of the measure, to be removed in the name of freedom of decision-making. What has not been considered, however, is the important role that these portals have within the scope of listening and dialog considering that, in many cases, women facing choices that are so serious, find there help and advice.