The French Senate approved a bill Wednesday to criminalize some pro-life websites.
According to the Guardian, the law, proposed by the country’s Socialist government, will ban websites that “exert psychological or moral pressure” on a pregnant woman not to have an abortion.
Supporters of the law argue that it will ban websites that publish what they characterize as false information about a medical procedure, while opponents are concerned about the implications free speech and pro-life activism, including pro-life outreach done by churches and other religious communities.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the country’s Senate voted 173-126 to approve the legislation, which was passed by the French National Assembly last week. The legislation will allow for pro-life activists to be prosecuted for “exercising, by any mean, moral and psychological pressures, threats or any act of intimidation against people seeking information on a [voluntary] termination of pregnancy.”
Those found to be in violation of the law will face up to two years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
Grégor Puppinck, the director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, told the Free Beacon that the law could have grave implications for the Catholic Church, whose Catechism calls abortion a “moral evil.”
“This law may prohibit the church from publishing its position on abortion. If you teach that it is a sin, then teaching itself would be sufficient for prosecution,” Puppinck said.
Puppinck added in a written statement that the legislation “deeply reduces freedom of speech” and allows for the government “to legally harass opponents [of] abortion.”
The Free Beacon noted that the legislation passed by the Senate must be reconciled with the legislation passed by the National Assembly before it is considered by French President François Hollande.
Pro-life activists plan to challenge the legislation in French — and possibly EU — courts.