Date of incident: October 6, 2016
Category: Government Restrictions
Attack against: Morals
Area of case: Governmental
Laurence Rossignol, minister of families, children, and women’s rights, has announced that the French government intends to introduce legislation to ban pro-life websites it judges to be 'extremist'. She plans an amendment to the current “Equality and Citizenship” law, which will impose penalties on owners of pro-life sites of 30,000 euro fine (£26,517/ $33,600) and two years in prison.
Ms. Rossignol objects to pro-life websites such as the popular site ivg.net. that seek to present mothers with alternatives to abortion and list the physiological and psychological harm caused by abortion. Ivg.net gives access to a crisis phone line for women facing unexpected pregnancies, stating “You are pregnant and considering abortion? Don’t be alone!” and promising that they will have access to someone who “listens, understands your feelings, and gives you time to talk.” The pro-life site also describes different abortion techniques, lists the health risks and presents testimony from women expressing grief and regret over killing their children through abortion.
Marie Philippe, a spokeswoman for ivg.net, explains the purpose of their website:
"The site provides help for women who suffer from an abortion who finally find a place here to express their pain, ideologically denied in our country. These women receive support and the opportunity to be recognized and understood in their pain. We offer help and support to every woman who in her heart would keep her child and undergoes outside pressure. We are shocked by the number of testimonies of women who were obliged to abort under the pressure and constraint of their community."
Ms. Rossignol doesn't want French women to have access to this type of information which she characterises as "fanatic":
"A woman facing an unwanted pregnancy is sometimes vulnerable. The sites we are talking about take advantage of the complexity of situations and emotions to get them to renounce abortion. These people are a minority. They are fanatics. So you have to limit their impact on society, and I do not know what the future holds.”
An example of the standard by which France judges "anti-abortion extremism" is the 2013 case of retired pediatrician and pro-life activist Xavier Dor, who was branded "extremely violent" for entering an abortion facility and handing a woman knitted booties. He was fined 10,000 euros (£8839).
Ivg.net considers Minister Rossignol's legislation a "media ideology assault,” and rejects her claim that they "force women to choose one way or another but simply allows them to make a truly free and informed decision. Their spokesman added:
“Abortion was designed for women’s liberation and not to be an additional enslavement. So we do not seek to fight against some ideology, whether pro- or anti-abortion. Our concern is to prevent and relieve the suffering we come across daily.”